I’m not really sure how else to put this, but Janine Kovac, you are my worst nightmare. Your claim — that women who know they want kids but don’t have them yet because they feel unready are cowardly and selfish — is the most pernicious of attacks. But I suspect you’re already aware of this.
As someone who has known my entire life that I seriously, absolutely do not want to be anyone’s mother, and as someone who has to defend that decision more than I want to admit, I would like to thank you for being another person (a woman, no less) who purports to know me better than I know myself.
I wish there was a way to make you understand how completely exhausted I am by this conversation, and yet every time it comes up, I’m ready to go back in for the fight, even at the risk of sounding like a broken record. I’m not going to have a child because it will make people like you feel better about who I am, both as a woman and a human being. Believe it or not, I believe that I have, and will continue to have, value as an individual, regardless of my (presumed) ability to give birth. I have worked hard for the life I live as a journalist, a friend, a colleague, an activist and a Jew, and for the space, energy and time I have to cultivate all of those roles. To you, these beliefs are “short-sighted” simply because my future does not include a willingness to give birth to or raise another human being. Excuse me, but I think that the fact that I’m not interested in doing something I know I’ll regret later shows a more complicated long-term vision.
This essay is in response to Elissa Strauss’ “Why I Don’t Post Photos of My Baby on Facebook.”
I used to get a kick out of the stereotypically prideful mother, the one who shows wallet-sized photos of her children to anyone within eyeshot. It seemed she was desperately seeking praise for perfectly coordinated outfits and candid smiles peering out from the generic background of a department store photo shoot. That will never be me, I thought. Ever.
And then I became a mom. While I have not subjected my toddler to a photography session at the local mall, I certainly fit into a more current stereotype: the Social Media Mom. Like many proud parents in this age of over-sharing, I regularly post pictures of my daughter on Facebook and Instagram. A lot of pictures. From her first messy bites of avocado as an infant to the precious tears she cried because the library was closed a few weeks ago, I post it all.
Superficially, I do this because it’s an easy way to share photos with family and friends we don’t see on a regular basis. But I also recognize that my entire Facebook network doesn’t need to bear witness to every mundane activity and milestone.
So why do it? Why post photos of my daughter eating a sandwich or swinging at the park when they only generate a handful of “likes” and a couple of comments from the same five relatives?
The Babble parenting website has come out with its list of “100 Moms Who Are Changing The World” list, and as might be expected, there are Jewish women on it. After all, Jewish mothers can be quite formidable.
Jewish women did not make an appearance in all 10 categories on the list - activism, charity, creative, education, entrepreneurial, executive, green, health/science, inspirational, and politics – but they are disproportionately represented when taking into consideration the number of Jewish women in the general population. Perhaps we should even take it as a sign that the tribe was represented by exactly 12 Jews.
Fashion designer Donna Karan was on the list for her philanthropic work for cancer treatment through her Urban Zen Foundation, emergency housing in Haiti through Shelterbox, and cancer research and HIV/AIDS awareness through Seventh on Sale and Super Saturday.
Yesterday, The Sisterhood — inspired by the new television show “$#*! My Dad Says” — asked our readers and Facecbook fans to send in their mother’s (or grandmother’s, step-mother’s or mother-in-law’s) favorite sayings. They chimed in with these gems. Some are attributed; others were sent in anonymously.
• “With every generation an improvement.”
– Rose Magder
• “Even a fish wouldn’t get caught if he didn’t open his mouth.”
• “You don’t marry the man you can live with — you marry the man you can’t live without.”
–Hattie Seligman, z”l
• “If he had two brains he’d be a half-wit.”
Dumped by his girlfriend, 28-year-old struggling comedy writer Justin Halpern packed up his life in Los Angeles and returned back to San Diego to live with his parents. And it was there at home that he discovered comedy gold: his Jewish septuagenarian father. Justin began transcribing the daily musings of his father, Sam, whose sayings Justin describes as a mixture between Socrates and Lenny Bruce, for a Twitter feed. The Twitter feed, full of profanity-laden gems, quickly became a viral success. ”Before long, the Twitter account turned into a bestselling book, and now it is the basis for a new TV show”$#*! My Dad Says,” starring William Shatner as Sam.
But we think Jewish mothers are pretty funny, too. And so we at The Sisterhood are asking our readers to send in “$#*! Their Moms Say.” Send us some of the words of wisdom — precious or silly — bestowed upon you by your mothers. The subject matter can be anything, as long as the voice is theirs. You can email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post them in the comments section below.
To get started here are a few from the Sisterhood friends and family: