June 17, 2019

To All the Moms I’ve Ignored Before

“Becoming a mother is a process — matrescence, I can’t quite bring myself to call it — and not usually a smooth one. My theory is that, these days, the identity transformation begins the first time you apologize for posting so much about your baby on social media. And it’s complete the first time you find yourself jumping into a new mom’s mentions to give her unsolicited advice.

I’m reminded of this every time I open Instagram and see the feeds of women I’ve followed and admired and laughed with and confessed to for years who have recently become a parents. As I watch them make their own transitions into the role, I feel full of affection and compassion and nostalgia, followed quickly by a vexing, almost irrepressible desire to be consulted.

You know that feeling when you say something and then hear it in your own mother’s voice and half of you screams while the other half is so satisfied, so relieved, to be in this familiar territory? Half of you: despairing; swore you’d never be like this. The other half: gngnghhhhhhh. This is how it is to be one of those moms, one of those internet moms who drove *me* crazy when I had a brand-new baby.

When I had my oldest son five years ago, I was so envious of my husband for, well, for many reasons, but in this albeit very minor case because he could make jokes on social media about taking care of a baby and people would just laugh. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine, if you’re a New Mom, making a joke about not being able to sleep without 30 women jumping into your mentions telling you to buy a $2,000 bassinet or let your baby cry until he passes out or put him down “drowsy but awake” (in other words, screaming while you twist in agony)? And you just sit there trying to breastfeed and make more jokes from a place of total abjection while other women start arguing with each other about sleep training?”

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