The grass is always greener.
A little while ago I was hanging out in a bar that was really not my thing.
Trying to recover froma recent break up, I had put on some make-up and some shoes that had an actual heel and had dragged my sorry arse out of the house in an attempt to rejoin society. There was a room full of polished looking yuppie types drinking pretentious beer.
I realised that there wasn’t a single man-tanned dude in the place that interested me.
“Hmmm,” I said to my dear friend, “I think I might die alone and childless.” (I know, freshly single people are a laugh-riot.)
To cheer me up she told me the story of her recent girls only date night.
To clarify my friend and I are both thirty-something friends without babies who have (obviously) other similar aged friends who have in unison popped out a whole bunch of babies. The aforementioned date night was with a group of these recently and not so recently babied up amigas.
My friend was looking forward to a couple of glasses of wine and a nice catch up… instead the baby mommas spent the whole night bitching about how hard it is to be a mother and how they hated it, how their men didn’t understand and how aforementioned friend was so lucky to be single and free and able to do anything she wanted.
Which made me wonder.
Why are we hanging out in bars we hate or frantically trawling the interweb for likely looking men and then finally meeting “the one”, settling down and producing much-longed-for offspring and then bitching about both the man and the offspring to our friends (some of whom are frantically trawling through the interweb and so on)?
Of course, this isn’t a blanket occurrence but it is pretty prevalent. I’ve heard it in various workplaces, on buses, at coffee shops etc.
So, being the curious monkey that I am, I want to know why.
Why? Why? Why?
I, for one, have been thinking about the fact that I might never have babies—mid to late thirties, no likely prospect in sight and I don’t know whether it’s heartening or depressing to hear women’s stories about the “joy of motherhood”.
Is it one-upmanship?
Some of the discussions do remind me of the famous Monty Python skit… “your whole family lived in a shoe-box? …. we dreamed of living in a shoe-box” = “you’re baby doesn’t sleep through the night? … my baby has never slept ever ever.”
New Mom: “Well my boobs are never going to be the same—aren’t you lucky to be single and free and with your original boobs?”
Single Non-mom: “But what about your child?”
New Mom : “I’d rather have the boobs.”
Is it fashionable to dislike your child? Is it uncool to be into motherhood? Are moms trying to make non-moms feel better about their non-mom status by making babying seem horrific?
Single non-mom: “You have a loving relationship and a beautiful child (insert slight tinge of envy).”
New mom: “Oh it’s horrible, the baby never sleeps, I can’t remember when I last had sex and I really want my original boobs back.”
Is it a case of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence“?
If we refer back to the previous example, we can see that new mom is thinking non-mom is going out all the time, wearing fabulous outfits and hooking up with hot Brazilian surfers at cool parties.
Non-mom is thinking of the last time she had sex, which was six months ago with a balding, middle-aged accountant she met at a dire singles night who kept on bitching about his ex-wife and calling her mommy and wanting to wear her shoes during their three minutes of sexual congress .
This means that neither new-mom nor non-mom are getting any and the only real advantage that non-mom has is being able to watch an entire episode of Dexter/ Grey’s Anatomy/ Project runway etc in peace.
(At this point I hear a chorus of new-mom’s saying, “Yes! All we want is to watch a TV program in peace…and possibly our original boobs back!”)
Are people’s expectations of motherhood unrealistic?
Could it also be that the media has created a golden ideal of motherhood which involves glowing laughing women and cute, cuddly babies and lavender-scented bath times and never-ending supplies of four-ply toilet paper and puppies and a catchy theme tune and, possibly, unicorns.
So after pushing out the mini-me, women are stumbling around sleep deprived, disillusioned and bitter, trying to find the coffee and yelling “Who used all the toilet paper and where are my f*$%ing unicorns?!”
Then there’s the judgement on women who decide they don’t want to have children.
There must be something wrong with her—she must be cold or dysfunctional or devoid of human compassion or some such crap.
(I have to admit that I have actually thought these thoughts once upon a time when I was younger and more naive and now I see it going through people’s minds when they ask about my childless, man-less status—you should see their faces when I mention that I also have a cat!)
It seems to me that all women are being set up for a weird lose-lose mentality.
We do it to ourselves and we do it to each other.
No babies by accident = sad, lonely loser, crazy cat lady or wanton strumpet. No babies by choice = selfish cold fish (also see: crazy cat lady or wanton strumpet). Happy mom = unambitious throwback. Miserable mom = ungrateful whinger.
Ladies! Stop the insanity!
The only way I can cope with all of this is to try to adopt a win-win attitude—i.e. if I do have kids then I get the wonderful/terrifying experience of raising a another human being.
If I don’t then I get to very, very occasionally sleep with hot Brazilian surfers, watch entire marathon runs of my favourite TV programs and I also get to keep my original boobs.
I would be really interested to hear the opinions and experiences of moms, new-moms and non-moms… please post in the comments.
p.s. Here is the previously referred to Monty Python skit…
Teresa is a South African living in New Zealand. She has an irrational dislike of cycle shorts and is currently obsessed with mason jars. She has been an actress, an English teacher, worked in media and advertising and has generally done a gazillion different jobs and has an opinion on everything, which she believes has uniquely prepared her to have a whole lot of stuff to write about.
She tries to write as much as possible – which is made harder by the way her cat likes to sit on her keyboard while she’s using it. Read her blog : http://blessedunrestthat.blogspot.co.nz
Editor: Elysha Anderson