Saturday, February 22, 2014

Standing on my soapbox

Very rarely does an article infuriate me. Even more rarely does this happen at f*cking stupid o'clock on a Saturday morning, when I'm really at my most zen and too sleepy to be easily angered or aroused.

Oh boy am I mad.

I saw a link to this article on my Facebook feed and it sounded like the kind of article I would be interested in, so I hopped over to the website and I read it.

I started out agreeing with the author (and believe me, I do agree with her main point overall), but I found certain statements extremely annoying and well either just stupid or extremely condescending. I still have not made up my mind about which adjective fits the bill better.

Firstly-- full disclosure: I am not a mother. My husband and I feel we aren't ready for a family yet and if and when we do decide to have a baby is our own private concern. I am however, an Indian woman, a daughter, an often-harassed daughter in law, and this subject is particularly relevant to me.

In the fourth paragraph of the article, hyperlinked above, the author compares the decision to become parents to going on a high altitude trek or swimming the Amazon! Really? Yes, of course, at least swimming (and surviving the piranhas) the Amazon is indeed a life changing experience. But come on, the comparison is hardly apt. In fact its not only feeble, its a slap in the face to every couple who has been trying, whether for weeks, months or years, to conceive a child. I wonder if the author has ever tried any of these life altering experiences? I've tried the high altitude trekking, then come back home and life has gone on as usual. No change. Hardly an apt comparison to motherhood.

Then the attack on mommy bloggers. But the fundamental reality is (and I speak as a blogger myself), we all want to show our good side on the web, because we never know who might be reading and/or looking. Of course, they want to upload good shots of their kids as they play and grow. Isn't that the point? Because why would a bunch of random strangers on the internet want to see blurry pictures #epicfail?

As I mentioned earlier, I'm an Indian woman. A 30-something Indian woman. The thought of never seeing their grandkids gives my husband's relations panic attacks and we've developed a brain filter that automatically shuts our brains off when the 'when are you going to have a baby' monologue starts. It probably gives my parents panic attacks too but I've bullied them into silence. Yes, it is going to be hard, probably the most excruciatingly painful thing we will ever do, but I don't think we will regret it. I know for a fact that our parents do not regret having had us, and believe me, we were little hellions! I live in the United States where hired help comes at a super steep price, family support is often non-existent, and mothers live sleep deprived, baby-centric lives till their toddlers well, toddle off to school. Do these moms regret their kids? Hell no.

Now here are the lines that really annoyed me.

" At the end of the day, parenting is merely foisting the responsibility of finding your life’s meaning on to someone else. It’s the reason why parents — especially mothers — have to continue with the narrative of “this is the best thing I’ve ever done.” Besides giving them an excuse to do nothing else with their lives, it also gives them a lofty platform from which to preach."

Oh yeah?

My dear lady, while there are no doubt, several mothers and fathers who try to live vicariously through their children, your article is aimed at my generation. People who aren't getting around to having kids yet or whose kids are still young. We as a generation are holding off having kids for several reasons-- and yes, one of those is that we are not as 'self sacrificing' as our parents were and don't want to give up any experience life has in store for us. We've paraglided, trekked, iPadded, jetsetted and maybe even swum the Amazon to be where we are. We're the women who fought with our families for the right to advanced education. The right to work. The right to marry who we choose. Do you really think we are going to want to 'find our live's meaning' through a defenseless little diapered baby?!

And yes. 'Excuse to do nothing else with their lives?"

You have just slapped the face of every single woman who has had to give up her career for her child. And maybe every woman in general. Who exactly are you to judge that a stay at home mom does nothing with her life? Boy are you one biased person. What about your own mom? Did she give up her career to raise you? What about your mother in law? Would you say that to their faces?

Just because you are a mother who chooses to work does in no way mean you can sit and 'preach' that the rest of the moms out there are useless because all they do is raise their kids! Yes-- all, because raising a child, ensuring it gets adequate nutrition, a good education, good morals, a happy childhood, are nothing. Shunting a kid from school to soccer, from soccer to ballet, from ballet to piano are nothing. Because any old nanny would do that right? Or do you think kids raise themselves, just add water and leave out in the sun?

I think you have a few good points and some good writing in there. Just don't let your biases get the better of you.


  1. I wish people would just stop the bullying with their pen. These people would be the first to jump in defense of all the civil rights cryers, but feel no compunction from attacking others who they view beneath their elitism. But I guess if they don't write something that enrages some group of people they don't get the attention.

  2. I can empathize with the anger, having been ( almost) on both sides of the debate. And like you I did agree with the broader point. In her case, perhaps its just tempting when you find yourself disagreeing with someone ( e.g. aishwarya) because your experience doesn't mimic theirs, to want to say ' they must be wrong'. But in life, after you stop ranting about 'foisting responsibility, living vicariously and doing nothing with life' perhaps you need to stop and acknowledge , to each their own. I hope she gets there. I have to confess I am not even a mother yet, and I am already trying to get there!


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