Monday, May 15, 2006

The Mommy Club

Recently I was near a group of women I dubbed "The Mommy Club." They were all very, very, very into their kids. In fact, they seemed unable to see anyone or anything beyond how it related to their children. They were very disdainful to any mother who didn't demonstrate the same level of complete devotion to their children, and obviously thought there was something horribly wrong with me that I had not seen fit to use the perfectly good ovaries and uterus I'd been given.

One of the members of the mommy club was asked by someone she's just run into that she used to work with, "what are you doing now?" She chirped -and that is the only way to describe it - "I'm a mom!" She said it as if she had accomplished the most amazing thing imaginable. I'm sure it's an incredible thing to have a child - I have no doubt of it - but it is something that billions of women have done. But billions of women were certainly not welcome in their club. The woman she was talking to who was asking what she was doing obviously didn't quite know what to say to that. But, no problem, the mommy club member went on to tell her in great detail about her two children. As well as the husband who was supporting all of them, while arguing with his two ex-wives about supporting the children from those marriages.

It, obviously, had never occurred to her that she is just the ex-wife to be that he'll be arguing with about supporting their kids. Statistically speaking, she will not have the earning power to support them without his financial assistance because she's "being a mom!" instead of building a career or in some other way asserting her own financial rights.

Don't get me wrong - I WANT people to be into their kids. I desperately want people to like being a mom. And I love it when people can stay home and raise their children. If I had had children, I would have wanted to be home with them. But, I could never figure out how to accomplish that and not be putting me and those children at great risk.

I want women to be realistic about their lives, and that of their children. If you put all your financial eggs in one basket - in this case a husband who obviously has some difficulty with relationships - the liklihood you're going to end up in a world of hurt is huge. When you end up hurt, so do your children.

The 2004 per capita divorce rate was 37% - that means that 74% of the US population, since a divorce involves two people, gets divorced every year. Nearly 3/4 of people in the US. The odds of living happily ever after are not in your favor. And the stats are per capita, not by who is married, so the numbers are actually significantly higher than that.

The notion about how you can't go into something expecting it to not last is cute and all, but that's not really for adults. If you're not past that, you're really not mature enough to be considering marriage. Adults come to a marriage with a string of failed relationships behind them. You know from experience your own track record isn't that great. And you're marrying someone with their own history of failure at relationships. Leave the romance for candy and flowers, but be realistic about the finances. What are you going to do if you get divorced? Child support? That's all formulaic in most places and it's not generally enough to really support a child. It will be a supplement but that's it. So, what is it going to supplement?

I realize some people married young and are still with the same person. Both of my brothers fall into that category and they all seem happy and I'm happy for them. If I had married the boy I was interested in when I was 16 I would have been miserable the last few years.

And if you're going to be a card carrying member of the mommy club, try to learn to contain your dislike of the rest of the world. Some of us have chosen to not have children because we didn't think we'd make very good parents. It's not because we don't like children - just the opposite - we like them so much we didn't want to screw them up. Some of us couldn't figure out a way to create a secure, loving environment for a child with some safeguards in case the relationship we had with their father fell apart, and we were realistic enough to know that was likely to happen. Some of us thought being a mom was just more responsibility than we could handle well.

I couldn't help but wonder what the Mommy Club members were teaching their children about acceptance. The only message I could see was "people who don't think like mommy are bad." No wonder we're self destructing from the inside out.

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