Can I tell you a little secret? Here it is: having children didn't change me at all. I mean, yes, having children drastically changed my life, mostly when it came to having money and going to social events (less of both, friends, far less of both), but popping out kids didn't reconfigure the fibers of my soul. The people who find this hardest to believe, it turns out, is the men in my life. I love them all, but some of their reactions have inspired me to reiterate, with passion, the things men need to stop saying about moms.
I don't have a solid working theory on why, in my personal experience, men are more apt to believe in the transformative power of motherhood or the idea that motherhood is, in and of itself, a universal state of being. Of course, given the centuries of societies around the globe conflating "womanhood" and "motherhood" (not to say the two can't be linked, but the idea that they're inevitably linked is ridiculous), I can't really blame them for coming to these crazy conclusions. However, I can call them out on it. Just because a particular message has been regurgitated so often that it become internalized, even subconsciously, doesn't mean that you can't look inward and reverse a fictitious and, honestly, hurtful way of thinking.
Yes, of course, #notallmen. I, mean, I get it and if I'm being fair, I must say that some women do this, too. However, today I just want to address the lads out there who've had a little too much of the Patriarchy Kool Aid.
"That's Your Job..."
The idea that moms are the de facto primary caregivers (or solely responsible for domestic chores and duties) does a whole lot of harmful things to both men and women. It foists on women a particular paradigm of what a mother "should be" in such a way that a) can make her feel guilty for not conforming within those parameters b) limits her ability to figure out her own version of motherhood that would better benefit everyone in the family unit because she's so busy handling everything on her own. This affects men in that the demarcation that keeps women in also keeps men out. When child-rearing is a "mother's job," it limits the ways men feel empowered to take a role in the lives of their own children, which is heartbreaking.
"She's A Mom, You Can't Date Her"
Look, I'm not telling you to get into any situation that you're not comfortable with. Dating a woman with a child is usually very different from dating someone without kids and the truth of the matter is that you're never going to be the number one person in her life. However, while the logistics of future family goals and lifestyle differences can certainly be completely valid reasons not to pursue a relationship with a single mother, the fact that single mothers are stigmatized is often in and of itself a factor. Single mothers are seen as undateable to the point that some men will write them off as an option without even considering the logistics. Men need to rethink the sexist origins of stereotypes against single moms before they decide if it's the logistics that don't work for them or the unspoken social stigma.
"I Can't Have Sex With Her. She's A Mom!"
Okay. We get it. You have a Madonna-Whore complex. It's common, but that doesn't keep it from being really obnoxious. I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but moms like sex at about the same rate as most other women (and yes, this includes your mom). So please get over whatever issues you have about "nice girls" and "sluts" and move past this de-sexualization.
I just hate this word so much I want to purge it forever from the English language. Damn you, American Pie, for making this one so damn popular. Why do I hate it? Well, it's basically just a kinkier version of having a Madonna-Whore complex, right? Like, moms aren't supposed to be sexy, but when you see a mother whom you have deemed stereotypically attractive she becomes this hypersexual, non-person, fetish trophy. Let's not, everyone.
"But You're A Mom Now..."
Look, motherhood sure can change some people, but I don't personally know of any instance when the person you were before you had kids completely vanishes. Just because someone is a mom doesn't mean they aren't still them, as in "a person with thoughts, feelings, dreams, and a personality that exists independent of having a child."
"I Thought Moms Were Supposed To..."
You know there 43.5 million mothers in the U.S. alone, right? Do you really expect tens of millions of women to all do the same thing? Really? How would that even work? Yeah, as a group we have our quirks (I mean, I write about mom quirks quite a bit so I'm not blind to generalities) but there's no such thing as a "supposed to" unless you follow it up with "love, nurture, and protect their children."
"If I Were That Kid's Mom..."
Nope. Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. Everyone needs to stop this one. You aren't that child's mom, you don't know that child, and based on that one little peek you're randomly getting into their lives, you don't get to make grand pronouncements about how you would be handling everything so much better. You have no idea, so back the hell up on this one.
Anything At All About Their Vaginas
I mean, I hate that I even need to bring this up, but here we are. Like, do y'all really need me to tell you that speculating (or making unfounded, unscientific claims) about the elasticity or tightness of a woman's vagina under any circumstances is not only super sexist but massively creepy? Never mind that postpartum vaginal recovery varies tremendously from woman to woman so, again, there are absolutely no universals anyway.
Disparaging All Other Moms By Comparing Them To Their Own Mother
Because nothing says, "I have weird issues with all women but especially mothers" like saying the the only person capable of handling parenting well is the woman who raised you and no other woman can possibly compare to her.