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Because we are driving them crazy.
This woman, Chrissy Teigen, had a baby ten days ago. She is famous — I guess she is a model or something — so when she went out to dinner with her husband, John Legend (?), lots of people took pictures of her.
So then this happened:
You just had a baby stay at home
Dumb. No normal woman would want to leave her baby so soon
Years of infertility struggle finally had a baby and peaces out after a week
Maybe it’s just rich people but I have two children, I had them at a young age also. I don’t think I let anyone watch my child without me til a month or two.
That spotlight pull be strong. One week. Who wants to leave a one week old baby to go to a bar?
And so on. These are comments on social media, in response to a woman who committed the outrageous and vile act of . . . going out to dinner with her husband. She didn’t fly off to Antigua and leave her baby in a box on the floor at the airport. She didn’t accidentally forget her at the hospital. She didn’t turn the kid over to the first maternal-looking dog she could find so as to lead a “Babies Bore Me” rally at the local Bad Mother Sodality.
She just. Went out. To dinner. And then presumably went back home and hung out with her baby, as women do.
My friend Laura Broussard, who has a knack for getting to the point, said:
America: where we shred you for going on a two-hour dinner date at a week postpartum but give no sh*ts if you have to go back to work 40 hours a week at a week postpartum. Seriously. It’s a couple hours. A healthy nine-day old baby is probably sleeping at this time. If my healthy nine-day old is sleeping well and my friend called and said, “Can I pick you up and take you out for calzones down the street before you start trying to lose the baby weight?” I would say OK JUST LET ME FIND MY DRY SHAMPOO. (Because ain’t no paparazzi care about my look while I’m grubbing at Rotolo’s.)
Leave. Mothers. Alone. Stop picking picking picking at them. You want to know why American mothers are all crazy? This is why they’re all crazy. Because there’s nothing they can do that won’t get them yelled at by strangers. If you think that doesn’t make people crazy, then try it some time — and add in all the normal hormones and stresses and insecurities of motherhood.
I invite you to carry a baby for nine months, give birth, and spend a scant week healing up and dealing with the exhaustion and wackiness that every mother deals with, and find it in yourself to shrug off criticism — yes, even if you’re a rich mom, even if you’re a mom with lots of help, even if you’re a mom who can fit into slinky pants right away, and even if you’re a mom who is married to someone named John Legend. This is the stuff that makes people crazy, and there is no way to avoid it.
Teigen dealt with the criticism with humor and grace. I didn’t do as well when I had just given birth and decided to get back to work after a short time, because I could do it sitting down, and because we needed the money. As soon as I said something people didn’t like, I got a rousing chorus of “YOU’RE A BAD MOTHER TO BE WORKING.” Not that they wanted to help pay my mortgage, or anything. Not that they had anything good to say about WIC, or mandatory maternity leave laws. It was enough that I was a woman who had publicly admitted to giving birth. Suddenly, any misstep I made could be magnified by a thousand because [fill in the blank] isn’t supposed to be how mothers act.
How about we let the lady eat? Or at least stop using motherhood as another stick to beat women over the head with. And yes, I’m speaking to women at least as much as I am to men.
First person to say, “Hey, fatherhood is hard, too!” gets a hundred lashes with a pair of maternity compression hose.
Angry Mob photo by Hans Splinter via Flickr (Creative Commons)