I Don’t Want No More Babies and Other Taboo Stuff You’re Not Supposed to Say or Think When You’re a
As cisgender mothers, there is a ton of stuff we just plain feel guilty about. It’s all rooted in good old fashioned sexism - part and parcel with how we are supposed to love our children in opposition to loving ourselves and be self sacrificial at all costs and turns.
This is impossible. Like it’s physically impossible to care for someone without support or at the very least some time to care for yourself as well. I think I have used the mask on the plane metaphor before…if you don’t put on your mask before you put on, in this case, your child’s, you could actual pass out while trying to secure their mask. So, in this case, the mother must put on her mask first.
It is critical to take care of ourselves as parents and/or activists in order to take care of kids and/or communities.
And while in my world that is a given, boy it sure is hard to live up to. People - even other parents, family members, friends - guilt us as parents about all sorts of stuff: stuff I had to unlearn to feel guilty about when I was a non-mom, or never felt guilt about in the first place!
1. I feel guilty for sleeping in.
As though I should be with Adli every waking moment and I’m a bad person for missing out on whatever silly-ness is happening outside my bedroom door.
2. My partner said to me in the early days of Adli’s coming: You shower every day! New moms don’t shower like this!
I was like, seriously? It was not just getting away for 10 minutes either; warm water helps with breast milk flow and potential engorgement. It still was about Adli when I was in the shower!
3. I feel guilty about not wanting more kids.
I think about how Adli will be an only child of queer parents and how another sibling will normalize his existence in so many ways. And then I’m like, but I want to buy expensive shoes and go on vacations and give Adli lots of everything. Further, society gives this false impression based on sexism that no matter the sacrifice of a mother, in the end, we always enjoy every aspect of motherhood. I’m sorry, Adli is awesome but the first 3 months were scary and kinda sucked. And then the next 3 months were sleepless and intense. So I’m not trying to hear that with a second child. Even though the world says I should be the sublime mother at every turn. This is not a reality. It’s ok to be a mom and hate the work involved. It’s ok to not love being a mom sometimes.
4. I feel like a bad mom if I am having a conversation with another mom and Adli falls and hits his head.
Pretty self-explanatory. But parents get such limited moments with small children that it becomes a luxury to complete a thought or sentence.
5. It’s taboo to want time away from your kids as a cis or Trans parent but not so much as a cisgender dad.
Since my partner and I don’t get much support to get away, sometimes it reinforces that we should always be with Adli. People will actually say to me that I chose to have a kid so wanting time alone is a luxury. Cisgendered men do not get this guilt trip when they are away from their kids: they work important jobs and it is natural that they would take time away to watch the game and have a beer without a kid in tow.
6. I’m just as important as my baby.
Cis women (and I imagine trans parents,) have had to assert that our lives are just as important as that of our children. One example of this is the pro-life movement; pro-life activists believe the life of the fetus is valued over a woman’s choice to become a mother.
7. I feel guilty about not feeling guilty.
I love my job. I want go to work most days and sometimes I want to go to work so I don’t have to do all the work required of momhood: the constant cleaning, the boring repeat episodes of baby Einstein. Being a mom can be challenging on the heart but not always on the brain!
8. I can’t support other people as much anymore, and I feel bad about that.
It just doesn’t make sense to try and get childcare so you can provide childcare for another persons’ little one. So I feel crappy that I can’t support more. But is my need to support about my willingness to do so or my learned behaviour that I must always support others, even when it’s at a cost to myself. Hmmm….
There are countless other things that you just aren’t suppose to do when it comes to kids, including: smoke while pregnant, call someone’s kid ugly or give them candy after 6pm but as cisgender moms we don’t get to say or do these things aloud for fear that we will be seen as a callous, uncaring mom. When in fact we are just humans. And often cis dads and single people say this stuff (or can anyways) without the judgment reserved for cisgender mothers.
So the next time you end a conversation with a mom with something like ‘Well, it’s all worth it, right?’ or ‘But, motherhood is just the most rewarding job for you, isn’t it?’ Don’t. And, ask the parent you are speaking with if they want a glass of wine and to talk instead!