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The Writing Mother

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Sunday, February 12, 2006
The Mommy Club - A B4B Entry
Moms are never at a loss for words when they talk to other moms. Diapers, bowel movements, vaccinations, new words, bad words, and eating habits; all tried and true topics of conversations. In fact, total strangers can suddenly find themselves being thrust into the most intimate conversations about what wonders lie inside a child’s diaper.

Recently a friend of mine accused me of being a snob; of looking down on those who did not have children. She stomped her foot and insisted that I felt she wasn’t nearly as worldly or as experienced as she was, simply because I had a child and she didn’t. And she insisted that there was an unspoken club that mothers didn’t want to admit to - some Phi Beta Placenta sorority that probably had its own decoder ring and secret handshake.

And I had to admit that she was right.

The mommy club does exist. If you herd 72 women into a room, they will, by nature, break off into small bands of the “Have Reared" and the “Have Not Reared” tribes. There are several core beliefs that separate the two bands. Let me lay them out for you:

A child is not a dog. Everyone from Oprah to your next door neighbour wants to empathize with you about your childrearing woes. Unfortunately there is no comparison between owning a dog and raising a child. The “I went through the same thing with my dog,” response will likely provoke the raised-eyebrow-forced-smile-head-nod and will separate you from the mommy herd immediately like a limping wildebeast. You cannot put your child out on the porch in the winter while you clean up the pee on the floor, nor can you tie him up in the back yard while you run to the store for milk.

Parenting is not an absolute. As card carrying mommies, we know how liquid life is, how the rules seem to change from day to day. How the blueprints we drew before having children, don’t fit the foundation we are now laying. They are often in direct contradiction.

A side-effect of a first-time pregnancy seems to be the belief that you actually know what you are getting into. I know well the look that crosses a pregnant woman’s face when talk about what my life was like before hand, and what her life may be like once the you-know-what has actually hit the diaper. It’s the “oh sure, that may be what it was like for you because you are a bad/unprepared/unrealistic/overbearing/uncontrolled mother. It will be different for me” look. This is why the first tenant of motherhood should be Never Give Advice To a Pregnant Woman. We are thinking of voting it in at our next AGM.

The number one priority spot is now eternally taken. It is something that the moms can’t explain to the non-moms. No matter what is happening and what is going on around you, your thoughts will be on how this will affect your children or on what they are doing. There isn't really a time in our lives when you can say "but think about your child." Um, yeah, we already have. It isn’t possible to just forget that they exist, or put them out of your mind for a night out. They are there, in your mind, you can hear their voices, see their smiles. That may be why we can’t focus on what you are saying about the horrible mom you saw in the supermarket the other day and what you would be doing differently.

Yes, we know our child is crying. We’ve all seen the looks you give us in the supermarket, on the airplane, at the mall, when our child is crying or screaming, or exhibiting passive resistance by flinging himself limply on the ground. And, really, we don’t much care that your shopping experience is being ruined, or that you think I should just “spank his butt”. Chances are that as frustrating as it is for you, it is exponentially more frustrating for us. This is after all, our child. And if you want peacefulness and calm, go to a spa. Or stay at home.
  The Writing Mother
  posted at 4:15 PM

At 3:45 PM, Blogger Beth said...

I'm one of the first-time pregnancy snobs who glares at unruly todlers in the line at the store, but I'm excited about my future education and to be able to join Phi Beta Placenta!


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