Not long after I had my baby boy last year, a friend added me to a Mum’s group on Facebook – the kind of closed group where people ask questions and share advice about parenting.
Tonight, I left the group. I can no longer deal with the completely ignorant, trivial, outrageously stupid comments. It’s infuriating. And I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the intention of the group.
I’m honestly surprised I remained a part of it for so long. Sure, there have been a few helpful posts from time to time, but not often enough to justify seeing absolute dribble pop up in my timeline more often than desired.
Perhaps something went wrong when I had my baby. I didn’t change as a person. I didn’t grind my life to a halt and spend every moment obsessing about my child. I didn’t become paranoid about germs and noise pollution.
I am still the same person.
In fact, I might even be a bit better. A tad wiser. And even less interested in being diplomatic.
Because, after having a child, here’s one thing I know more than anything else: having a child does not make you intelligent or productive or logical or accomplished or attractive. If you didn’t have it before you were a parent, you aren’t going to have it after becoming one.
And contrary to what the world will have you believe, we are not all born equal. I am not the same as you or him or her and certainly not them. We are the product of our environment, our genes, our choices, our experiences, our opinions, our attitude and so much more. Some people are better than others. That’s not even up for debate. It’s the bloody truth. And if you disagree, if you’re offended, you should probably stop reading now.
This is only going to get worse.
Tonight’s post, the one that raised my blood pressure and quickly prompted me to hit ‘leave group’, was from a mum expressing concern that the childcare centre she was considering enrolling her son in had a male carer and that was a major turn off to her. Because, you know, male carers in childcare centres must automatically be child molesters.
I was actually a little disgusted by her view. I read through the comments on the post and some people thought she was being overly paranoid and others agreed with her. And then I thought; I wonder what people would have said if she expressed concern about an Asian carer at the childcare centre? Or an Indian one? Or a homosexual carer?
And then I thought; what kind of men does this woman have in her life? Because all of the men in mine are wonderful and decent and exceptional, and dare I say it, sometimes much better people than their female counterparts.
And then I thought; how did we get to a point where it’s ok to validly and publicly assume that the actions of a few horrible men can define an entire gender and generation?
And then I thought; I bet she watches A Current Affair every night. That or Today Tonight. Because if you’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer or you’re more ignorant than informed, it’s the exact type of deluded paranoia that these pathetic programs rely on to keep their ratings afloat.
And now, typing away furiously, I think; why just men? Women can be violent and abusive. What about that?
So that was it for me.
That and the fact I’m not actually interested in half the shit these mothers talk about. Parenting isn’t actually that complicated. Your child is not a robot designed to mimic your life and embody your hopes and dreams. Your job as a parent is to equip your child for the world, to the best of your abilities – to encourage them, to help them grow – physically, emotionally, mentally – to guide them, to give them the tools to be the best person they can possibly be, and hopefully use that in a way that helps others.
No one talks about that in this group. The focus is on more important things, like, you know, how to get your child to sleep in later, so you can sleep in later, and how to buy a house in the right zone so you can get the best education for your child without having to pay for it, and where to stay in Bali, and ‘oh, where was that café again, the one where I can sip my decaf-skim-latte-and-let-my-kids-run-wild?’, and how to give solids to your child, and why weet-bix are evil, and ‘where can I buy a realistic looking doll that doesn’t look too doll-like but is still a doll?’
There’s a lot of that going on.
It’s all funny memes and quotes about motherhood that are supposed to make an ordinary woman who has never done anything significant with her life feel better about her decision to bear children and cries of ‘I’m boooooooored, what can I do today?’
Bored? Bored? I haven’t been bored a day in my life.
And now, thankfully, I won’t get infuriated half as often either.
The mums I know – the ones I’ve made friends with and met along the way – are all amazing women. So I console myself with the hope that the ones that grate me so much are far and few between. Because I don’t want my son growing up in a world where he thinks that being a male child care worker, or a male anything, is weird or uncomfortable or unmanly.
I don’t want him to believe that what he sees on television and in advertising is a true depiction of what it means to be a man. Newsflash; not every man loves his shed and only knows how to navigate a remote control and enjoys beer and is stupid/embarrassing to his family.
For all our efforts in telling girls they can be anything they want (and they can), and for all the trail-blazing in helping them get there, we have somehow left behind a few huge gaping holes for our boys.
The holes are everywhere. On our TV screens and in our iPhones and in our schools and coming out of the mouths of women.
To the woman concerned about her son being in a centre with a male childcare worker, I only want to know your answer to this:
If you think so poorly of men, how can you ever hope to raise a good man?