Sunday, April 05, 2009

A (More or Less) Mommy Wars Reading List

Just for fun, I want to make sure no one misses Katha Pollitt’s recent piece on Michelle Obama. I have to admit I’ve developed quite a crush on the first lady, partly due to David Brooks’ fear that she could bench press him (likely one-handed even), but frankly she had me at telling a young girl, who aspired to be a first lady one day, “it doesn’t pay very well.” Pollitt highlights even so much more to love.

Then I’m sure everyone has read the Atlantic breast-isn’t-really-best-fest, which was well done even though I had mixed feelings about it, followed up by Debra Dickerson’s inane right-on (right on the heels of dismissing the youngest generation of feminists as poll dancing drunkards – what has gotten into her lately?). I didn’t write about it because I didn't have much to add except my own story and a snoring rendition of humans are mammals and their milk is designed perfectly to nourish their young – it’s a good thing – still, the vast majority of reasonably intelligent, healthy Americans alive today managed to grow on evaporated milk and corn syrup – wah wah wah wah.

So I decided I’d rather just let it be until I read this great take by Judith Warner - sensible, thoughtful, perchance inspiring, definitely worth reading. With that I’ll return to my regularly scheduled programming of worrying about my own boobs and leaving the sisterhood alone to worry about their own, free from my judgment, (no doubt) wisdom and helpful hints.

Last but not least I would like to vent… no! Talk. I would like to talk about this most vile internet phenomenon which I will call the children-haters. Before I get myself into trouble, let me say that I know many people in real life who are child free by choice or by circumstance and none of them are repugnant children-haters. I don’t know where the internet finds these people. But you might have read in the comments from my last post that someone is horrified to see that I basically told a Mother Jones columnist to “off herself.” Which I kinda did, along with about a hundred other people – but don’t feel sorry for her! She’s smart enough to know that the surest way to inspire people to suggest you go fuck yourself is to refer to their children as nothing more important than carbon-emitting “monsters.” Certainly she was inflammatory on purpose. I gave her just what she was hoping for – an angry reaction and a link.

The post drew a lot of crazy parents who claim their children will cure cancer and end global warming, and a lot of crazy non-parents who feel the goal of civilization should be to end civilization, but there was one sane comment that’s worth repeating (trust me you won’t want to read through all of the nonsense to find it). The suggestion is that the U.S. might adopt a policy whereby tax breaks are only given for up to two children. The theory being an acknowledgement that people need public support to do a good job of raising their kids; yet everyone having more than two children, particularly in a wealthy (or really I should say, grossly wasteful) country like the U.S., is not sustainable and should be discouraged (or at least not publicly subsidized). It’s an interesting idea, but when I envision it in practice it seems it could be elitist – inadvertently punishing poor people for having the audacity to reproduce, which we already do enough in this country.

On the other hand, it's mind boggling the degree to which people feel disgruntled about the child "tax write off" factor. I mean all year long I educate, feed, house, clothe my kids, not to mention I purchase a boatload of useless junk for them to play with and destroy. At tax time, apparently I'm supposed to feel like I'm really cashing in on these guys -- you'd think it would make me want to have another, all the money I'm making. Well I don't know about you, but my reaction is more along the lines of whoop-de-doo. If we actually had policies in the U.S. that helped mothers, financially speaking, well then I suppose someone could complain, but trust me, for the most part, we're on our own out here. Some even complain about having to pay taxes for public schools. If you can't comprehend why educating children benefits the entire population, then you're a good example of how our under-funded schools fail.

So wait, I promised we were just going to talk and I accidentally vented there at the end. Sorry about that, but really I wanted to explain to anyone who might read that previous comment that I'm not in the habit of telling people to just die already and get it over with - I was only trying to help her embrace the mantra "let change begin with me." I meant well -- mostly.


Chris Mancini said...

I found your post through the good blogs and it was a great read. Very insightful.

Anonymous said...

Your breastfeeding story cracked me up!