I’m kind of a Mother’s Day curmudgeon. I’m one of those grumpy moms who says, when asked what I’d like for Mother’s Day, ‘a day off,’ because, seriously, isn’t spending a day not being a mom the very best way to spend the day on which motherhood is celebrated? The thing is, when I say this, I don’t really mean it. I don’t actually want a day off from being a mom. Sure, I’d love to have a day or an afternoon all to myself in which I get to lay on the sofa and eat chips and watch Buffy reruns (you are shocked, shocked to hear this, I know), but I wouldn’t really want my family to disappear for that day. I’d rather that they just, you know, mostly occupy themselves in some space adjacent to my relaxation space – go to the park, play in the yard, clean their rooms, that kind of thing – and make periodic appearances to give me hugs and tell me how awesome I am as I lay there in all of my chip-munching, Buffy-watching, slothful glory. Which, okay, is kind of like taking the day off from motherhood, but not entirely, because key to this whole scenario is that I still get to enjoy all of the awesome of being a mom (toddler kisses, general adoration) with none of the work.
Motherhood can be scary, you know? Even when you’re not grappling with complicated demons, even when motherhood presents itself to you more or less straightforwardly, it’s scary, because it’s just so loaded, because children are so small and they get sick and they seem so fragile and you always think that you don’t know what you’re doing – what if you don’t breastfeed for the full recommended 6 months? what if you don’t breastfeed at all? what if you don’t hand-blend organic baby food? what if your kid doesn’t get into the ‘good’ preschool? what if she falls out of her crib? what if she falls off her bicycle? what if she falls in front of a moving vehicle? WHAT IF? – because the stakes are so freaking high. But it’s important to remember that it’s scary for everybody, that everybody is at least somewhat scared, some of the time, because that’s motherhood. Fear and love and joy and fear, people. Fear and love and joy and fear, and also hefty doses of snot and fecal matter.
Remember that one time, when I breastfed another woman’s baby? And somebody saw me do it, and thought it was disgusting, and blogged about it, and then everybody argued? Those were some good times. So good, that it seemed a really awesome idea to kick off the new year by looking back at that experience.
It was good, actually, to reconsider the whole experience from the vantage point of a year and some months later, which is about how long it took, give or take some weeks, for my indignation at having my morals questioned and my boobs scrutinized to wane. I revisited the controversy with some of the ladies at Momversation (where I’ve just hopped on board as a panelist), and we talked about what happened, and about why it is that the whole thing made – makes – people so uncomfortable. Here’s the video: