Lots of moms want to be mommy martyrs. It’s like workers who want to be office martyrs. Naturally I’ve never understood this shit. I do what I gotta do, I will go the extra mile when necessary at work and at home, I’d give my life (and almost did) for my kids. But on nearly all the mom internet boards I’ve come across, there’s this palpable striving to be Supermom—or at least the appearance of it, needing that yellow S emblazoned on the front of their shirt like Super(wo)man.
Now, some things are out of our control, capiche? Doesn’t fucking matter one bit. It’s like trying out for the cheerleading squad and losing out to the blonde rich bitch who can’t do gymnastics, but she’s got that je ne sais quoi—translation: being in the right place at the right time for no goddamn reason but she fits in and you don’t (for those of you not fluent in French).
Wanna be a Mommy Martyr? Here Are My** Top 10 Qualifications.
I’d love it if some of you would chime in and add a few of your own qualifications, k? Since I’m not a mommy martyr (MM) I have to go by osmosis on this one. Note that there’s a fine line between Mommy Martyr and Mother Teresa—you don’t wanna go too damn far overboard or you’re immediately disqualified as being a loon or in a cult. Here’s what I mean.
1. You’re Married. There’s no wiggle room here, ladies. If you screw this up, you’ve fucked up your status from the moment the embryo attaches to the uterine wall. Shit, you can’t even relate to a parenting book since they all start out with building a strong marital foundation. So a shotgun wedding is better than nothing but only to the people you meet later on who don’t know about this scandalous indiscretion. Plus, if you’re single and preggo, your kid will probably end up in jail. Bonus: You’re submissive and talk about your wonderful DH all the time. Overboard: Letting him have an affair or hit you—anything that shows the public that things aren’t so rosey.
2. You didn’t have a C-Section. If you’re too posh to push, you shouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place. My great grandma gave birth to twins on her dining room table. Then she probably got up and made supper for the family while nursing with both breasts. C-sections are for weak women in poor health who can’t tolerate pain. If the baby’s at risk during a natural delivery, this is your fault somehow, too, and you need to push that kid out fast. A non-planned C-section is slightly better than a planned one, since everyone from your bank teller to your dental hygienist will be asking if you’re having a C-section—it’s totally their business, too. Bonus: You refused all pain meds and didn’t scream during delivery. It goes without saying that you didn’t shit all over the delivery table either. Overboard: You gave birth at home in your bathtub while your sister sat on the toilet guiding you via a medical book, scissors and gauze. What is the matter with you? No health insurance?
3. You Breastfeed Until the Kid is 3, stopping only to conceive another child. “Breast is best” and woe if you don’t go the extra mile on this one. Formula will cause your child to develop terrible diseases. Obviously. Otherwise what are breasts for? If your DH can suck them, so can your baby. And wear a pin showing a bottle and a big red X through it, for godsake. This’ll keep the nurses from fingerwagging at you if they suspect you’ll cave and use formula. Bonus: You love eking the white stuff out of your boobs so much that you also donate breastmilk to other moms. Overboard: Nursing till the kid is like 5. That’s. Just. Weird.
4. You Have At Least Two Kids. Less than that, and you’ve either got major fertility problems or are too selfish to give #1 a sibling. It’s okay if your first one is really young and you’re pregnant with another. But three kids is the Ideal. With three, your chances of any Me Time are nil, plus you’re more likely to have both genders in the mix. Having just two is acceptable if you have a boy and a girl. But woe to those who have their first two kids of the same gender! You’ll get a lot of “sorry to hear that” BS, as if you’ve just given birth to a monkey or something. No choice but to try for a third. If that child is the same gender, then it’s on to number four, where it’ll have to stop before you start looking like a freak. Bonus: You have a boy, then a girl, then a boy or girl. Overboard: After four kids, people start to raise a brow. By then, you sure as shit should know how to swallow a birth control pill or slip on a condom; no excuses about a “whoops” at this stage, folks. “Accidents” are only allowed in the beginning.
5. You Read A Lot of Parenting Books and Subscribe to some Method. It almost doesn’t matter what method you subscribe to—the Babywise method or John Rosemond or Dr. Spock or Montesorri. The point is, you’re researching, worrying, deliberating, and devoting every thought to your child. You can’t be sitting on your ass reading People Magazine if you want to be a MM. Just don’t be “out there” by being laid back or growing your son’s hair out. Stick with something in the norm. So when other moms talk about their Parenting Method, you’ll at least know what the hell they’re blathering about since you, too, have read every redundant parenting book under the sun. Here’s a secret: it doesn’t matter squat what you try, your kids are gonna be bitter for a few years at some point in their lives and blame it all on you; if you’re too laid back, the kid’s going to say if only they’d had more structure in their lives, and if you’re too strict, the child will move far away at age 18 and never return. Bonus: You agree some with all of the methods so as not to piss anyone off, plus your kids are angels. Overboard: You do some weird thing like take your kids abroad for a year—what kind of structure is that?
6. You have No Fertility Issues. A hearty mom must have a strong womb. Infertility means you have something wrong with you. You’re not like a real woman or anything. God’s punishing you so that your horrible genes won’t live on. If it’s your husband’s weak sperm, then you should’ve married a guy with some cojones. Look, you need to get it right on the first try. Or at least by the third try. There’s a formula to the whole thing, what age to marry, what age to start reproducing your first, then your second, then your third. Any weird gap indicates a fucked up situation somewhere in the game plan. So by all means keep it to yourselves if you can’t procreate immediately—any “assistance” in that area means your children are artificial and not natural. And by God, if you have twins, you’ve gotta announce immediately that this was Natural. Otherwise everyone from your store clerk to your next door neighbor’s lawn service dude is going to be asking if you “tried that test tube thing.” Bonus: You get pregnant just before the first try—i.e., you can say, “We were so pleasantly surprised! We were just about to start trying.” Overboard: You get knocked up on your wedding night. People will be counting back the days on a calendar to see if you’ve snuck in the nasty prior to saying “I do.” Wait a couple of months, ok?
7. You Keep a Rigid Chart of Milestones and Your Kids Exceed Those. There are a ton of charts out there proclaiming exactly what your child should be mastering at such-and-such an age. So if your child is supposed to be potty trained by 18 months, you damn well better get cracking on that. Naturally you’ll want to read a ton of books about this first. Milestone Madness means, obviously, you can’t have a child with a disability; after all, your kid started out in your healthy-pollyanna-bombshell-steel-protected womb for nearly 9 months, so you probably did something wrong or have bad genes or allowed a doctor to give your kid shots or whatever it was that caused your kid to have “delays”. Bad, bad, bad. Stick to The Chart and smack those kids into submission—otherwise you may have a child who isn’t running until 8 months or so. You can’t post that on your blog (all MM’s have blogs, of course, BUT not all blogging moms are MMs). All these formulas are complicated but it’s the most you should have to think—no MM should be too smart. Bonus: Your baby is eating steak by 3 months old, potty trained by 1 year, and in a top preschool by age 2. And you MUST advise other moms how they should improve their child’s milestones when you see them lagging behind. Which is often. Overboard: You sure the fuck don’t want your kid to be like 10 and graduating college, or playing Mozart by age 4—he won’t have any friends and it would put you in the category of Too Fucking Weird. You don’t want Weird. You want Normal But Superior.
8. You don’t ever: Raise your voice, Spank, Drink alcohol or use Profane Language. Okay, a couple exceptions here. You can raise your voice, but only at a referee of a game who tries you call your child out for a penalty. You can spank only if it’s done for religious reasons. You can take a baby sip of the wine at church during communion or eat a host dipped in it—this means you’re drinking blood, not wine, so it’s all good. There are no fucking times when you can use bullshit profanity, not motherfucking anytime, any place, anywhere—and you damn well better never say it even if you’re alone with your fingers stuck in a running paper shredder. Because, you have your perfect DH, your kids are angels, you’re a sahm, and you are Calm and Serene. You can’t be a MM if you blow your top. Bonus: You’re still sane. Overboard: You really can’t not make your child’s teacher feel like shit if your kid is getting B’s instead of A’s in school. Raising your voice in this scenario is not only not forbidden, it’s downright necessary.
9. Go to Church. Duh. Bonus: You teach a bible class and your husband’s a trustee. Overboard; You shouldn’t be talking about God 24-7, or be spiritual, or love nature too much, or join anything outside the mainstream. Remember the Salem Witch Trials? Women have been killed for liking flowers too much, so watch your step—the 10 commandments don’t include caring about the environment, for godsake.
10. You’re a SAHM with no Me Time. If you married right, your DH can easily support your brood with his job in IT or finance or medicine. Working outside the home implies you need more income. Plus “why have kids if you let someone else raise them.” No one can do it better than Mommy and if you work outside the home you’re a selfish bitch who cares only about herself. You don’t need “me time” either—that flew the coop the moment a pink line appeared on the pee stick. So shout it to the goddamn world! You can’t be a martyr of any kind without suffering. It just has to be the Right Kind of suffering. So put on your stonewashed Mom jeans, and tell everyone you can how much you’re sacrificing for the fam. Bonus: You always make your children’s lunches rather than rely on school food. You also have a hot meal on the table for DH every night. Overboard: You don’t have a million mom friends because you’re too much into your family. Think like high school. You want to be in the best Mom Clique in town!
Scoring: 10 of 10 = you can die today and fly straight up to Supermom heaven. 7-10 = not perfect but close enough. 4 – 6 = Someone should call CPS. 0-3 = Have a hysterectomy. Now.
**Disclaimer: Shit! My score is a 1 out of 10.
P.S. Update 9/2012: this is my favorite post of this entire blog. I’ve gotten a shitload of visitors to it but no comments! I guess nT one wants to throw a pebble in this pond.