Mothers Are The New Sheep

February 20, 2007

I became a mother because everyone else was doing it. No, really – I kept seeing all those flashy strollers and cool diaper bags and hip pregnancy clothes and I said to myself, girlfrennn! We have got to get us some of that! I’d been, like, totally ambivalent about having kids for, like, forever, but then when I saw that it was cool? And that everybody else was doing it? And that it meant more shopping? I was totally on board.

Gwyneth was doing it. So were Kate and Jennifer and Sarah and Gwen and Britney, back before she lost her mind, back when she was still hot. They were all getting pregnant and wearing skinny jeans slung below their bouncing bellies (totally sexy, omg, did you see them? Slinky little tank tops stretched over those smooth round tummies, belly-buttons poking cheekily through the filmy fabric? Hott!), slouching around with their decaf lattes and bags of super-cute baby clothes slung over their arms. Some of them already had their babies, and wore them on their hips, all fat and pink and decked out in the super-cutest little Burberry newsboy caps, like the sweetest little accessories that you ever saw. Kate, with her baby in one arm and that big white Birkin on the other? That was cool. And did you see when Gwyneth had Apple at the Live8 concert with those earphones pulled down over her little blond head, and Gwyneth had her hair all long and loose and neo-hippie-like and wore those big aviator sunglasses and was, like, totally rocking out with her adorable little blond baby and made motherhood look so cool? I loooooved that. I wanted to be that.

So I decided to have a baby.

Okay, so maybe I was already pregnant by then, but when I look back at it now I can totally see that I became pregnant because that’s what was hot. And that’s, like, totally cool. I got in on the trend at the very beginning. I saw the signs: Babies Are The New Uggs. Get Them Before They’re Out.

I was marketed into motherhood. I became a mamanista.

That’s what I’m told, anyway. That motherhood is, like, the new black and that all us mothers have just been, like, totally sucked in because the media and the marketers made it look just so tempting, like something that we had to have, like a totally hot new bag except with no waiting list (okay, nine-month waiting list! But still! Waaaay shorter than the Birkin list, omg!)

(Wait. Are we the same Gen-X/Y post-consumer performance artist hipster parents who are trying to make terminally un-hip parenthood cool? The ones who are exhibiting their babies as counter-culture artwork on their blahgs and Babbling about how to wrap their own baby slings out of vintage rock tees recycled from Goodwill?… Is that, like, the same thing or is it totally different? I’m, like, soooo confused.)

But here’s the thing about becoming a mamanista: it’s all fine and cool and hotttt and we all love the pretty shiny things that come with babies – even the babies themselves! – until we realize that motherhood isn’t as shiny and pretty as Sarah Jessica Parker makes it look and that even a Bugaboo Cameleon and a Burberry diaper bag don’t make up for all of the sleepless nights and the sagging, sucked-dry boobies and the spit-up stains on your vintage Diane von Furstenburg wrap dress and the fact that your swollen post-partum feet will never fit into Choos again. And then we get buyers remorse. That’s what they tell me, anyway. Mamanistas will regret – do regret – having babies, because babies are so less cool than you thought they would be.

They can tell, see, because of what we say on our blogs, because of how we’re quoted in the media. They can tell because some of us, sometimes, have said that motherhood can, sometimes, be boring. Frustrating. Messy. They can tell because sometimes, some of us, admit to having a drink. Or two. Or ten. They can tell because we’re obviously desperately trying to hang on to our selfish, urban-hipster-doofus-culture-victim lifestyles. They can tell that we’re miserable, and that we’re ruining our children.

So they’re issuing public warnings now: Don’t Have Children Because It’s Trendy. Don’t Get Pregnant Because Bridget Moynihan Did. Don’t Turf Your Birth Control So That You Can Buy A Bugaboo.

Got that? Don’t do it, because you’ll regret it. No matter how much you end up loving – adoring – your children, no matter how incalculably precious you find those moments of snuggling/kissing/playing with/gazing at/thinking about your babies, no matter how inexplicably fulfilled you feel by this overwhelming, life-changing, soul-expanding thing called motherhood, you will regret it, because nothing – nothing - makes up for cellulite and baby puke on your Tory Burch wedges and you’ll only have yourself to blame when you find yourself, some dark night, in a strip-mall beauty-salon-slash-tattoo-parlour begging a nineteen year old to shave your head and tattoo the words BABY’S BITCH on your pubes.

So, if you have ever at any point in your life been ambivalent about having children, if you never played with dolls or doodled the names of your future children in your schoolbooks, and if you now find yourself inexplicably drawn to Starck-designed strollers or Oilily diaper bags or Cookie Magazine or, or have noticed that you discuss with some authority the relative merits of Chuck Taylor sneakers over ballet flats for attending Saturday afternoon family dance parties or kiddie salons, or find yourself surfing Celebrity-Baby when you should be doing your taxes or planning your charitable giving, consider yourself warned: you may be, or be on the verge of becoming, a mamanista, and so may be in danger of spontaneously combusting from the combined effects of sleeplessness, boredom and frustrated fabulousness. For which the only remedy is to not have children – or, travel back in time and not have children – and save your money for an accessory dog and that Birkin bag.

Because that’s all that you really wanted to begin with, wasn’t it?


Thank you all, beyond much, for your reassuring comments on my last post. I still feel like a bad mother, but at least I know that I am in the best possible company.

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    Alex Elliot February 22, 2007 at 12:38 am

    I love the idea of the tattoo! That’s what I’m going to be doing this Friday night!

    Super-Mommy February 22, 2007 at 2:11 am

    Love it! I was caught up in the mamanista mania in the beginning, now I am just freakin tired and covered in baby spitup. Oh and I haven’t had my eyebrows waxed in like a year…

    But I kinda want to know how to make a sling out of an old t-shirt, just because it sounds much better than dropping the 50 bucks on one.

    urban-urchin February 22, 2007 at 2:15 am


    Veronica Mitchell February 22, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    You mocked this so much better than I could. I would probably spit on somebody and stalk off growling about the death of western civilization.

    My decision to give my children life does not have to be justified to ANYONE, least of all some snob who thinks women live by fashion.

    Gwen February 22, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    And see, I’d already clawed my way out of post partum depression by the time the beautiful hep cats started to breed, so I just looked at their picture perfect existences in People and snickered because I knew what life was really like once they got back behind the gates of their mansions.

    Isn’t the point of marketing and advertising to convince us that spending money on whatever it is will make us happier? It’s not just babies and mothers–anyone watch that little sporting contest awhile back called The Super Bowl? When is Janina going to write another poorly composed article that warns men that drinking Budweiser will not magically make large breasted chicks appear to lap dance for them?

    Kate February 22, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    Ahh, yes, foiled again by that hip new maternity line by Liz Lange. I guess that’s how baby #2 came along. Damn her.

    Heather February 22, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    I must say…I’m a totally shocked mommy over here. I never imagined you were the type to get suckered into mommyhood…I need to do some thinking.

    AdventureDad February 23, 2007 at 5:33 am

    You’re too funny. It’s true what you write. I would like to change the word motherhood to fatherhood though. I see a huge change in how fathers act with their kids and their involvement. It’s cool to be a father with the Baby Björn strapped on, stroller loaded, and having coffe with your child next to you. At least it is over here. I see so many fathers who take 6 months off to be with their baby. They have a magical glow in their face as they walk around town with their loved little one.

    It’s trendy and cool plus it’s good for the kids. And the fathers feel like superstars. And the women can work. Everybody wins.

    Nice weekend


    Nancy February 23, 2007 at 10:17 am

    How did they know that I had kids just to buy the cute wittle itty bitty outfits? Because I think a station wagon screams “HOT MAMA” like nothing else? Because I’d much rather save my hard-earned money for college tuition than for exotic vacations?

    They’ve found me out, dammit.

    And you, HBM, are brilliant as always.

    ewe are here February 23, 2007 at 10:27 am

    This is a great post! Truly!

    Lydia February 24, 2007 at 7:46 am

    Once again, great post!
    I somehow managed to miss the whole trend thing… especially since “cute maternity tops” and “my pregnant body” did not go together.

    The article was certainly interesting, what a shame that woman (obviously) regretted her choices!

    Rock the Cradle February 24, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Baa I say. Or maybe just bah.

    I tore myself away from Celebrity Baby to read this? ;)

    How dare you be all self-actualized and wise and everything! You’re a mother, for crying out loud. Stop making us all look bad.

    love, ya, grrl. Keep it up.

    c4cara February 25, 2007 at 5:00 am

    And see, I went and read the link and grrrrrr.
    Reminds me of the article in a magazine over here about women who had chosen not to have children, and were complaining about how they suffered great pressure and unkindness from others because of it (which might have been true) but ONE of them said ‘Anyway, having kids is just a lifestyle choice, like how you decide weather to buy a boat or house or something. People just have to live with those choices!’…
    And I just screamed ‘Oh My GOD Who ARE YOU!’ and I wonder if people don’t give her a hard time for some other reason…..
    Amazing post. Very funny.

    Gidge February 25, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    I only had the twins immediately after the first one because I wanted both a double and a triple stroller.
    Because strollers ROCK.

    Everyone knows that.

    suburban kamikaze March 14, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    And I thought the whole “hipster parent” concept was meant ironically. You mean we really are hip? Jesus, what does that say for the state of cool?

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