Last week’s July 24 issue of New York Magazine promised to be a good read. The cover was seductive, provocative, stung like salt water in the eyes. I blinked, stared at a beautiful, glamorous photograph of a smiling young mother lifting her baby high up in the air, happy. But inside feeling otherwise, thought bubbles radiating from her head, “I never wanted this baby,” “I know my husband is cheating on me,” “Anyone else in a sexless marriage?” Ouch, I thought...
This striking juxtaposition of word and image introduces us to an article on “The Mommy Diaries” inspired by the confessions of New York mothers blogging on UrbanBaby.com. Emily Nussbaum writes, “If you’re a mother of a certain type – upscale and analytical – you have likely heard of the site…it’s a place where a lot of New York mothers dump their most toxic feelings…On UrbanBaby women openly confess to an ambivalence about parenting that no one is allowed to admit in the sunlight."
Now, I know from my own mother and grandmother’s example, raising children is no walk in the park – they sacrificed to educate and nurture us. But as Nussbaum reflects, “the true and hidden subject of much of the site…is…less about babies themselves than what babies have done to these women’s relationships.” Entering the world, the vocation of motherhood in this day and age presents huge opportunity costs; women are feeling the pressure! And venting about it.
The modern-day married woman is in serious trouble if she’s got to have-her-cake-and-eat-it-too- --or else… Maybe it’s because I’m engaged that I’m beginning to experience the ways marriage and children will truly change and transform me. I’m not in denial about it; I’m in awe of it. Nervous as all heck, but excited for the adventure of discovering the wife-to-be and mother inside of me alongside my husband-to-be.
In their 2006 essay on “Life Without Children,” The National Marriage Project at Rutgers University writes, “In American society, there is a popular tradition of paying tribute to the work and sacrifice of parents—and especially the steadfast heroism of American mothers. This tradition is waning. Indeed, if the popular culture were the only source of knowledge about American parenthood, one would quickly conclude that being a parent is one of the least esteemed and most undesirable roles in the society…The percentage of households with children has declined from half of all households in 1960 to less than one-third today—the lowest percentage in the nation’s history."
What would our lives be without children?