Would you do it again?
I.E., Are you a short haired or long haired Gwyneth?
|Claire Zulkey||Jul 2, 2019|
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A mom I know, with kids ages 5 and 8, posted a question online wondering how many moms out there would have kids all over again knowing what they know now: “There are some women who seem to be made to be moms and I feel like there is something wrong that I am not one of them. I get no joy from being a sheepdog and herding them around a store. I hate the constant noise and mess to clean up and random shrieks in the car. It isn't even their fault: they are kids. I understand they need to learn, but I just wish I would have given more consideration to the fact that none of this is in my wheelhouse. I guess I enjoy them more as they get older and the mom skills needed are more emotional support (and chauffeur) rather then the infant/toddler grind. But still. I just feel broken and stupid so much of the time. I wish I could change my perspective.”
As you can imagine this spurred some brutally honest responses:
“I would do again, and I'm even contemplating a second, but HOLY SHIT do I feel you on all of this. I also do not feel that I am one of those ‘made to be a mom’ moms, but then again, those people often make me want to rip my ears off because they are so boring and...I just can't have another conversation about diaper brands. I love my kid, but parenting sucks because it is a shittttty (literally!) job, and saying so doesn't make me love my kid any less. I've made that separation in my mind and it has helped. TL;DR -- I also feel broken and stupid.”
“I’m always pretty happy to go to work on Monday morning, if that says anything. I’m good at momming part time with the help of a nanny.”
“I wouldn’t. That’s the honest truth. I mean, I can’t imagine a world without my precise, individual kid in it, but I know now that I would have been just fine without a kid in the abstract. That said, it really does get exponentially easier as kids become more independent. I’m sure I’m in for some thrills during the teen years, but... I think I’m better-equipped to handle that stuff than the little-kid stuff. It turns out that I’m not wild about little kids. Or babies. 🤷🏻♀️”
“I sometimes feel like a faker-mom, or like my mom-gene is broken and not like other people's. My son is 7, and yes, if I could go back I would do it again... but I also have only one child and zero desire for another. To the point that when I see my cousin with her eight-week-old third child I actively feel relieved that I don't have to do what she's doing, and find it hard to comprehend her choice to have another. I definitely enjoy parenting an elementary kid more than I did a toddler. Sometimes I secretly worry that I'm selfish/lazy/etc. I know it's not ‘bad’ to not want a lot of kids--or to have been on the fence about having one at all, which I was--but society sure makes us feel that way, doesn't it?”
“I would, but I think that's easier to say as someone with only 1 kid who is 11, as opposed to two kids 5 and 8. There are some tough years in there, and while each year brings new and different trials and tribulations, it is so much easier parenting someone you can talk to and reason with, and actually enjoy doing things with. And whom you can force to do laundry, make coffee, cook dinner, etc.”
“Oh boy. I think about this a lot. A LOT A LOT. I feel broken and wrong in a lot of ways. I tell my kids every day how much I love them and rationally I do but I don’t *feel* like I do. I don’t know it it’s the Prozac or if that’s just who I am. You aren’t alone.”
“I wouldn’t. I specifically remember feeling very bad for thinking NOOOOOO when people would see me with my new baby and exclaim, ‘Don’t you just looooove being a mom?!’ And of course they never actually meant it as a question. That said, the horror of baby, toddler, constant everything faded enough for me to have a 2nd, but I think I felt like—at that point—the damage had already been done, and I’d rather have them have a sibling than not (if it worked out.) I do enjoy them much more as they become actual people with personalities who can reason and understand humor, sarcasm, etc. and don’t require me for every damn thing. In addition to literal kid-related stuff, I’m not fond of holding the bag of emotional, household, and organizational labor aspects that seem to be part of the mom package.”
“I've been seriously dating my husband since 1999, and we didn't have our only child until 2011. I didn't think we were going to have kids, ever, in large part because I didn't want them. My pregnancy wasn't the most planned, and while I'm sure I would have been happy staying on the path we were on, I don't regret having her. That said, I assumed I wasn't going to do it so I didn't think through the financial consequences or try to anticipate what it would mean for my marriage / mind. I was stupidly naive about things like emotional labor and how little time I'd have for myself, and how tired I would be when I got that time. I love my kid, but I also feel like I had to trade away some essential parts of who I am to raise her, and I don't know that my husband ever feels that way.”
“I will say I was surprised a little at how much a lot of the parenting shit bothered me -- the noise and chaos and mess and drudgery. But things got better when I accepted that those things were just not my deal. Really, going back to work full time after 7+ years as a SAHM (I know that's not always an option) and having the money and self-acceptance to order and outsource as much as possible have really helped me to have a better experience -- I LOVE parenting so much right now, and part of that is my kids' ages and part of it is that I stopped trying to be someone I wasn't. I only see them after work and for dinner/bath/bedtime and those hours together are SO GOOD. Quality not quantity -- it's a real thing. Like, I was never a professional daycare provider or housecleaner and never wanted to be. So of course I didn't suddenly love that kind of work just because I love my kids. Like you said -- that stuff -- even the disciplining the kids part -- was just not in my wheelhouse. I'm great at sitting quietly at a computer or with a book. I fucking suck at playing baseball on a 90 degree day in a concrete city park, and making budget-friendly meals from scratch, or whatever the fuck. That's just the truth.”
“I think I just feel bad for my kid sometimes. Like, he didn't ask to be brought into this world and just wants what he wants and I feel like I'm constantly not in the mood to play or give in or be at his beck and call and he doesn't deserve it. The messed up thing is, I feel that I'm accomplishing more in my personal life because I have someone to take care of and despite wondering sometimes if I could have opted out of motherhood if given the chance, I'm afraid I'd be a lost cause, still barely making it financially, drinking a lot, sleeping with a bunch of idiots and living like a sad almost 40 year old with nothing going for herself. I definitely feel you on that thing where some women seem more ‘built’ for it or more natural, but I think that's more about personality and less about being a ‘better’ mom.”
“This is such a hard question because we can never really go back. I think a lot about how every single decision in life has a consequence. I used to obsess about the things I could have, should have, would have done differently and drove myself crazy. I try super hard not to dwell on the what ifs, but if I had a magic wand, we would have one child and be empty nesters in 3 years. That is not to be.”
“I think I would be really, really sad without my kids. I think I would regret it so much if it didn’t ever happen for me for whatever reason and I was childless. At this point, though, if I could choose between my husband or a great nanny and a steady income, I would prob go with the nanny and the money. I know this will change and I will go back to enjoying him more but right now it’s like, I need your income and I need you to do bedtime, that’s it.”
“I’d do it again in a heartbeat and I am in the throes of literal crap with a 1 y.o., 3 y.o., and 5 y.o. I wasn’t going to comment on this thread because who really needs to hear about blissful parents, but I really truly enjoy just about all of it; this surprises me because I am so not a ‘kid’ person. After reading everyone else’s comments, I wonder if it is because I kept working? As hard as going back to work was for me, perhaps it helped me to feel like I still had my own life? Also, I know that this is part of it: before I had kids, I spent ten years working with kids with severe autism. I have had kids bloody my face, bite me, smear feces on me, pull out clumps of my hair and eat it, and probably worse. My perspective is really affected; toilet training my kids was a breeze compared with the years I devoted to that skill with some of my students, and I am grateful every day that my kids can talk (albeit loudly and nonstop) and readily engage in observational learning. Perhaps that explains my weird satisfaction and joy in parenting.”
“I know that I was a decent mother of my kid. Whether that would have made me a good mother of more kids, or of other kids, I don't know. I also hit it lucky with a very easy-going kid. Yes, I would do it again. But with a night nurse and a Baby Bjorn and a better stroller.”
“I really love being a mom, but I think it’s because I mostly dgaf about a lot of the expectations. My kids watch a ton of TV. I don’t schedule them aggressively. We lounge around a lot and I work and we have a nanny. I think if I had to be more in the trenches 24/7, I would feel less good about it. Also I don’t feel like I lost an essential part of myself. For better or worse I am the same asshole I always was.”
And me? I don’t know the answer. I would say “yes” more quickly if I knew I would be better forewarned of the trauma of childbirth and postpartum, that you don’t actually have to like the parts of family life you think you ought to, and that being a woman does not mean you are inherently prepared to be a mother. But also I ended up with two pretty good kids (don’t tell anyone I said that) and despite the drawbacks and emotional and physical exhaustion I think I ended up savvier and more strategic about life and time post-kids. I guess I say “yes” because I’m a person who likes to take on challenges. I knew I wanted a challenge when I had kids, and boy did I get one.
Kids • This is what they mean by “the force”
Ask the witches • Hi how do you make mom friends and also leave the house
Q: I’m a brand new mom with a 3-week-old sleeping on my bare chest mid-breastfeeding right now. I’d like to ask the witches for advice on how/where to find new mom friends. I’d love to join one of those support groups for new moms where everybody sits around nursing and bitching, but I have no idea where to find them outside of quirky TV shows. I joined some Facebook groups, but frankly, I’m maybe a bit afraid of strangers on the internet. It’ll be a while before this meatloaf helps me make friends at a park, and I am very bored, and a little angry, cooped up at home and tethered to a breast pump. (I guess I could also use advice on how to leave the house with a newborn because I haven’t done that by myself yet, and it frankly scares me.)
Answers from crowdsourced witch friends:
Did I write this and not remember? It’s nice weather so I recommend starting with taking a walk. Super basic, but it gets you outside and you don’t have to interact with anyone if you don’t want to. Once you’ve mastered a walk, put the kid in the car seat and go through a drive-through Starbucks, McDonalds, etc. it gets easier the more you do it for sure.
I know a lot of people had luck with MeetUp groups for new moms (they have them for more general "Chicago Moms" or plenty of subgroups "Stay at Home Moms" "Moms of Kids with special needs" "moms of infants" etc.) I also think that once the kid is "of age" those silly baby music classes are more for the mothers to connect than the kids to learn to play the maracas at 3 months of age. I took one where so many people had to go nurse afterwards that it became one of the impromptu bitch sessions. For me, the best thing was to just ask for some "set ups." People are always super happy to connect new moms. There are also apps for that now! Peanut is Tinder for mom friends.
I adopted my son at 17 months and was also kind of scared to go anywhere with him at first. Walking up and down the block was how we started. I remember the first day I took him to Potbelly for lunch (two blocks from our house) and what a triumph that felt like, and how "normal" and happy I felt being out with other people around me.
Google new moms group with name of town. I found a group that way and it was exactly as you describes and I found my first mom friends there. It was a lifesaver.
I was lucky enough to live in an area with a lot of babies and new moms so being social at the parks and playgrounds - even at the grocery store - is important. Even if you don’t feel like they’ll be your BFF, try to connect with someone. You just need another mom whose kid is the same age to talk about all the baby stuff other people have forgotten. Also, I recommend local mom groups - on FB and ones that meet in real life.
I was rejected from the first (and only) mom group that I tried to join—they were "at capacity." But I developed a few good friends from taking my kids (starting as infants) to Gymboree. I really hate that clown now, but I did get some much-needed mom interaction.
IIRC, the hospital had one. And also a father's group. But: remember that you do not have to be friends with judgey and competitive mothers.
Le Leche League was my first baby meetup and I didn’t stick with it or get into it, but for a month or so it did the trick.
I went to a nursing support group when both my kids were a few days to a week old. There was a lactation consultant there to help the moms. There was a scale to weigh your baby. But mostly there were a bunch of worn out moms with their boobs hanging out. I only went to the groups once with each kid but there were plenty of moms that you could tell went every week.
I really recommend the Stroller Strides classes through Fit4Mom. I didn’t know how much I needed a daily outing or how great it would be to get a little exercise. I joined at 5 months, but after the 6 week clearance you’re good; I wish I had gone sooner. I definitely sometimes rolled my eyes (the daily question everyone had to answer during warm-up 🙄), but I found my people through trial and error, went to some mom nights out, and got the exercise I needed for my mental health and happiness. Also, no one judges, bats an eye if you have to pull over to breast feed or change a poop diaper, or flinches if your kid is having a major meltdown. It’s all par for the course.
All the mom groups by me are super religious or super crunchy so I never really did find my people. Honestly, I just started leaving the baby at the Y and/or with a babysitter as soon as it was feasible. And as far as leaving the house with the baby, it’s like ripping off a band-aid. It might be painful but you have to just do it. Have VERY low expectations. Be fully prepared to abandon your stroller if you can’t figure out how to fold the goddamned thing back into your trunk and it’s 800 degrees out in an arboretum that for some reason has NO shade and mosquitoes are swarming your sweaty wailing infant. Put a bottle of wine or some cake in the fridge to reward yourself for surviving.
The official MOMS Club in my old neighborhood was/is super active and awesome. You can find a chapter via their website.
This is the opposite of the advice this mom wants to hear, but I would say: It can be very isolating to have a baby. And it can make even the simplest things more difficult. So if you haven't yet found the Central Perk for moms or even made it to Walgreens because you are too sweaty and drippy, do not beat yourself up about it. You are keeping yourself and another person alive. I spent a lot of time feeling sad & guilty that I wasn't at mom & baby yoga because I had to hold my baby to sleep, and you can't do that during downward dog. I also had about 20 min between feeding, pooping and pumping sessions, and I just wanted to use that time to allow myself to poop. So at some point I just surrendered to being housebound. Are you angry you are at home or angry that you are not out? Because once I stopped being angry that I was not out, I felt a lot better. I reminded myself this was survival mode and not forever. I watched a lot of TV. I let people come to me. And my routines got very, very small. I walked around my sidewalk. I sat in my front lawn. But I'd take that front lawn over being with a newborn in a car who hated driving while stuck in traffic.
Check out The Baby Cafe and if there’s one near you, go. It’ll be the perfect outing, they might even feed you, and everyone else will be lactating and feeding a baby too. Look at your local hospitals and see if they have a new parent connection group. Sign up for an early childhood family education class if one is offered near you. Try out the local mom’s groups. I HAD to get out and make new mom friends and a few months in I would have told you there was NO way these women were going to be long-term figures in my life but nearly 9 years later two of them are dear friends and it’s extra special that our kids have been friends from infancy. I’ll say a thing about finding your coven; it may take extra time and effort to weed out the witches from the rest. Cast as wide a net as you can because you never know where you’re going to find success.
I will say that you should just try the walk thing sooner rather than later. The longer you wait the harder it gets to get over the hump and just get out of the house. Also, I was so panicky with my first when he’d start crying in a cafe or shop. I would just abandon my meal and run outside with him. My second can be screaming her head off and I *might* pay attention to her after, like, ten minutes. It gets easier and people don’t notice brand new baby cries as much as the mom does.
I had a few friends pregnant at the same time as me, so didn't make *new* mum friends till my son was a year old or something. And then it was just at the park. But I also continued to hang out with friends without kids, which I highly recommend. Sometimes you need mum friends who "get it," sometimes you need to talk about grownup stuff.
The midwife who ran our birth prep class ended up connecting all of our families via email not too long after our babies were born. We would meet once a week at our different homes to just hang out and nurse our kids and change diapers and eat snacks. It was a lifeline. Truthfully I had to come to terms with the fact that the other three moms were not people I would typically gravitate towards. I’d often say to myself “the only thing we have in common is our babies.” But you know what, it’s a lot to have in common! Especially in the early years. The other three moms stay home and I’m back to work, so we don’t see each other as much anymore. But to have some human connection in those first months was a godsend and I’m forever grateful to my midwife for connecting us so early.
My advice is to just be you and drop jokes about how much you hate your kid and see who laughs at it. That's the winner right there. Buy them a coffee. Once I had a few mom's I liked okay, I organized a weekly meet-up for a walk/talk.
If you have a question you need kicked out to a bunch of witchy moms, you can reply right to this email or put it on Twitter.
Y R Spouses • Mm hmm.
Health • Witch with an itch
These are the battery operated bedroom aids my friends have been recommending lately to witches in need. I’m not including photos (for those of you who may be reading at work or on public transportation) but for your information I’m arranging these recommendations from tiny to not so tiny.
“The Dame Eva as a totally hands-free experience and is a powerful little thing. My husband and I tried it while home alone on afternoon and I successfully used it hands-free. And by "successfully," I mean that I got off during P in V, which has been a challenge in middle age.
The LayaSpot: “$49, waterproof, 3 speeds,and cute. I recommend it as a non-inserting, solo-or-duo, comfy to hold, and not expensive vibe.”
Many witches recommend Lelos: “I have the Lelo Lily that has lasted me close to a decade.” “I have the Lelo Mona, and I am a fan. It is pricey but it’s also lasted me 10ish years: sooooo worth it.”
“My libido took a hit from my SSRI meds, and years ago my husband bought’us’ (me) this JimmyJane and it's been a game-changer. Good for partner and solo stuff. But not cheap.”
“Maud is so great.” (It is on backorder, however.)
“This Wallbangers vibrator is the one I was recently gifted. It does the job nicely. He very advanced in his thinking about sex. He’s not at all intimidated by the pink cock in my drawer—I count myself lucky ‘cause I know this is not the case for every dude out there.”
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Claire Zulkey @Zulkey"How much rage is accurate?" That's the question I explore in this week's fun-filled issue of @TheEvilWitches. This is the free one so if you think this issue resembles you, subscribe via @SubstackInc! https://t.co/O0K5M17244