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Mack Truck of Love
January 3, 2011 5:12 PM   Subscribe

Let's talk parenting taboos (SLTedTalk)

Taboo #1: You can't say you didn't fall in love with your baby in the first minute.
Taboo #2: You can't talk about how lonely having a baby can be.
Taboo #3: You can't talk about your miscarriage.
Taboo #4: You can't say that your average happiness has declined.
posted by joannemerriam (89 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I can. My happiness declines 3.12 milliglads per fortnight.
posted by hexatron at 5:16 PM on January 3, 2011 [26 favorites]


Well I do 2 and 3, and 1 and 4 don't apply so I guess I am only half taboo ("Banned in part of Boston!")

To the extent this is true its a function of people not deep, honest relationships not parenting.
posted by shothotbot at 5:18 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can. My happiness declines 3.12 milliglads per fortnight.

I think you mean millihedons.
posted by Xezlec at 5:26 PM on January 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


hexatron: My happiness declines 3.12 milliglads per fortnight.

To be fair, you can then recover at least 2.48 mgl per hogshead of alcohol consumed. Alternatively, the happiness loss also dissipates at a rate of 0.97 mgl per furlong from the nearest soiled diaper.
posted by Nomyte at 5:27 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


People say #1 all the time. Postpartum depression, hello.
posted by DU at 5:32 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Babies should be measured in courics, not pounds.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:33 PM on January 3, 2011


Taboo #1: You can't say you didn't fall in love with your baby in the first minute.
Taboo #2: You can't talk about how lonely having a baby can be.
Taboo #3: You can't talk about your miscarriage.
Taboo #4: You can't say that your average happiness has declined.


What? Back in the day when I had a young child, these things were staples of heart to heart conversation. Usually tempered with "but it's worth it" and such, but still.
posted by jokeefe at 5:38 PM on January 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I like these folks. They seem smart, funny and like they are good parents. I am not sure, however, these topics are all that taboo or that they may not be victims of unrealistic expectations.

Citing a parenting magazine as indicative of the experience of being a parent is like citing an issue of Playboy as an authority on female anatomy.
posted by Verdant at 5:42 PM on January 3, 2011 [26 favorites]


These seem to exist the way that you can't usually talk about anything unpleasant. The Western culture is very much about putting a positive spin on things. If you talked about any of those things, they'd think you were some kind of Debbie Downer.

And that's not just with having a baby. That's with everything. Jobs, family, relationships. Women are often pushed to be cheerful and sunny and vibrant about everything to everyone. I imagine that's why any of these things are taboo. And I'm sure a lot of moms want to fit in to the mom culture of fawning over their young.
posted by anniecat at 5:44 PM on January 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


Taboo: Noun. Something that everyone does while getting titilated by claiming that no one does it.

"I didn't fall in love my child right away": About 2,760,000 results (0.34 seconds)

"I can't talk about how lonely having a baby can be": About 41,200,000 results (0.35 seconds)

"I can't talk about my miscarriage" About 15,300,000 results (0.40 seconds)

"I can't say that my average happiness has declined": About 2,520,000 results (0.10 seconds)
posted by alms at 5:49 PM on January 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Certainly can't talk about your abortion.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 5:52 PM on January 3, 2011 [20 favorites]


When you are up to your elbows in poop and wailing daily there are no taboos.
posted by gomichild at 5:54 PM on January 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


Why is your baby covered in red crusty skin and why does it have a stupid name?
posted by biffa at 5:55 PM on January 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


Nothing builds web traffic by claiming you're breaking taboos. How bold and daring of Rufus and Alisa. God, I'm glad I had kids before the internets told me I was doing it all wrong.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:55 PM on January 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


What? Back in the day when I had a young child, these things were staples of heart to heart conversation. Usually tempered with "but it's worth it" and such, but still.

That's just the thing. No one's allowed to admit that it wasn't worth it. On average, there have got to be a decent number of people for whom raising a child just really wasn't worth it, a mistake they regret. Society would absolutely savage anyone who said such a thing.

I don't remember the last time I heard someone say that their newborn baby looked "generic" or "the same as other babies." Maybe it's because I'm a guy, but I haven't heard about miscarriages much either. They tend to be discussed in hushed voices.

As for the loneliness? It doesn't surprise me, because it seems like everyone seems to think that a mother that just gave birth needs to be left alone to rest. Obviously she's not going to be up and partying, but what's wrong with friends and family coming over to chat or take care of things? Instead, new mothers seem to get put into this virtual quarantine.
posted by explosion at 5:58 PM on January 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


Let's not, because it would just turn out to be stupid.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:04 PM on January 3, 2011


Certainly can't talk about your abortion.

I'm now picturing someone inviting their neighbors over for the weirdest slideshow/video montage of all time.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:07 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seems like a couple of deeply self-absorbed dotcom types are harboring a lot of guilt about being deeply self-absorbed dotcom types. The wife and I talk about these things all the time with our peers, and even family. I mean, look: you can say whatever you damn well please about having children. But you can't really expect to spend 20 minutes complaining about a decision that you made—that took a considerable amount of time and effort to stick to, might I add—and expect people not to judge you in some way.

If you bought all the photo spreads in parenting magazines and all the cooing in the TV commercials—and that's what you used to justify having a kid—then maybe you aren't as smart as you think you are. And maybe you can't talk about these things because you have other self-absorbed, shallow people as friends. Or maybe they just don't have kids and can't relate.

And regarding the "mom culture of fawning over their young"; I can't find this anywhere. Every blog my wife reads and sends me links from on being a mom is either neutral to Deuce-esque on the fawn-o-meter. Every dad blog I read is like they took an article from Esquire and replaced "Lamborghini Diablo" with "baby".

Sorry to unload on these two, but they just rub me the wrong way. Most people peddling "revelations" about child rearing do.

The real taboo is their website (current top feature story, "How To Become A Popular Blogger!!!11eleven"). Holy. Shit. Shoehorn a blink tag in there and it's 1997 all over again.
posted by littlerobothead at 6:10 PM on January 3, 2011 [16 favorites]


Everybody I know with children has talked about all of these, except those who were lucky enough not to have miscarriages. I have read first-person features in mainstream magazines about each of these topics. These folks need to get out more or something--something lots of people talk about isn't a "taboo" subject in my view.

I've actually had conversations 1, 2, and 4 today.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:10 PM on January 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


As a parent of three young kids, there's something about this that rubs me the wrong way. It's almost like they're saying "if you realise before becoming a parent that parenting makes you less happy than you thought it would, you'll be happier more often".
posted by stinkycheese at 6:11 PM on January 3, 2011


or what littlerobothead said.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:13 PM on January 3, 2011


Do people stop talking about these things with you once you become pregnant or something? Because my friends who've spawned tell me this stuff all the time.

And, I mean, I don't really want kids, but it might be worth having one just to get them to shut up about it.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:13 PM on January 3, 2011


The miscarriage one I found weird. I've talked to my neighbors about the miscarriage they had a couple of years ago, and just yesterday I was talking about it with my mother, grandmother and pregnant sister in law in normal lunchtime conversation.
posted by Omon Ra at 6:16 PM on January 3, 2011


Oh, Rufus Griscom. So he's just keeping on keeping on the "tee hee, let's pretend this incredibly common topic is super-taboo!" thing he started with Nerve.com, then?

Wake me up when we get somewhere interesting.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:20 PM on January 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


This video is extremely annoying because they're clearly talking to and about people I don't know and have never spent much time around. I'm glad that some people might get something out of these, but...really?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:21 PM on January 3, 2011


Citing a parenting magazine as indicative of the experience of being a parent

It's a total straw man to make their stupid Babble.com thing look oh, so daring. SLTTTRAA (Single Link TED Talk That's Really An Ad).
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:22 PM on January 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ah, I figured out what's really annoying me here: They never thought of these things until they went through it. And now, it's suddenly important information that the world needs to know. That comes across as really shallow and being completely oblivious to that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:24 PM on January 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


People complaining about how children have reduced their happiness are fucking whiners, and are looking at things entirely the wrong way. Obviously, the presence of children will profoundly affect your life, but it's funny how people in poorer societies (Nepa??) often score higher on the "happiness index" than do their richer counterparts.

And what is with this narcissistic obsession with "happiness", anyway? Happiness takes a lot of work. And besides, during life we will all be challenged. There will be highs and there will be lows, and then we will die.

The only thing that's worth anything in this life is the quality of our connection to and bonds with other people. It's the only thing that will last from generation to generation.

I'm not saying that people who have kids lead more fulfilling lives than those who do not.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:26 PM on January 3, 2011 [12 favorites]




Taboo: Noun. Something that everyone does while getting titilated by claiming that no one does it.

"I didn't fall in love my child right away": About 2,760,000 results (0.34 seconds)

"I can't talk about how lonely having a baby can be": About 41,200,000 results (0.35 seconds)

"I can't talk about my miscarriage" About 15,300,000 results (0.40 seconds)

"I can't say that my average happiness has declined": About 2,520,000 results (0.10 seconds)



Wow, so when you google six to eleven common words you get millions of results.

I wonder what would happen if we googled those exact phrases....

Information No results found for "I didn't fall in love with my child right away"

"how lonely having a baby can be" 559 results, almost all of which are links to or discussions of this article

"can't talk about my miscarriage" 1 result

"average happiness has declined" 1860 results, almost all of which are links to or discussions of this article

I see your completely useless Google research, and raise you my more on point useless Google research.
posted by flarbuse at 6:26 PM on January 3, 2011 [30 favorites]


People complain about parenting, sure.
But people never say they regret it. Everyone is always careful to add that proviso "but it was so worth it" or "best thing to ever happen to me" or "most important thing in my life". You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who'd admit publicly just how worse off they are, overall.
In fact, just implying that having kids is wrong for some people can get you tarred and feathered, easily.
posted by nightchrome at 6:44 PM on January 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Certainly can't talk about your abortion.
A friend of mine had me make these.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:45 PM on January 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


People complain about parenting, sure.
But people never say they regret it.


And yet, someone said that very thing to me today! OH MY GOD I MAY VANISH IN A PUFF OF PARADOX
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:51 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


But people never say they regret it. Everyone is always careful to add that proviso "but it was so worth it" or "best thing to ever happen to me" or "most important thing in my life". You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who'd admit publicly just how worse off they are, overall.

It seems at least one person had a best-seller in France making just this claim.
posted by escabeche at 6:53 PM on January 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


If you Google "my miscarriage," "I hate being a mom," "parenting sucks" and other supposedly-taboo topics here, you will find approximately kabillions of articles and blog posts, some from very mainstream publications, about these very experiences.

Penelope Trunk and Ayelet Waldman are both horrified that y'all have forgotten about them. Jesus, Penelope live-Tweeted her miscarriage! What does a girl have to do to get people to pay attention?
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:54 PM on January 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Jesus, Penelope live-Tweeted her miscarriage! What does a girl have to do to get people to pay attention?

Funny you mention her- just today she posted this.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:07 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I got a parenting taboo for you right here - this nye I was meant to go party but my lil dude was sick so I had to stay home and I was pissed off about it cause I'd spent money and time and effort on the whole costume and cupcakes extravaganza. I got slammed for being annoyed at this.

You roll with it, stay home and look after Junior (who mysteriously comes good when it's too late for your plans) but you can't ever say how damn disappointed you are to be missing out on your one night out.

Your only recourse is to collect pictures of the little one in funny hats crying. That album cheers me right up.
posted by Raunchy 60s Humour at 7:17 PM on January 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


What the hell was that kid's name? Zepherachlim?
posted by Brocktoon at 7:25 PM on January 3, 2011


God forbid these people ever encounter Louis CK.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:34 PM on January 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


@Rhaomi Hell yes. I could have saved time and just said "Louis CK FTW" for my entire comment.
posted by littlerobothead at 7:46 PM on January 3, 2011


Well shucks, I guess that just proves everybody is totally okay with it now.
Who knew?
posted by nightchrome at 7:57 PM on January 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Thank you for that Louis CK link, Rhaomi. I think I'm sterile now.
posted by NoraReed at 8:02 PM on January 3, 2011


Fucking everyone has got a TED Talk now. You thought your neighbors were annoying, wait till you hear their TED Talk!
posted by grobstein at 8:13 PM on January 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


People have different experiences having children. And peple without children have different experiences as well.
posted by wv kay in ga at 8:15 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's just the thing. No one's allowed to admit that it wasn't worth it. On average, there have got to be a decent number of people for whom raising a child just really wasn't worth it, a mistake they regret. Society would absolutely savage anyone who said such a thing.

Isn't it just the most basic kindness not to call your child a mistake in public, where they can hear you? Which is what would have to happen for us to identify a significant number of people who felt that way. It really has nothing to do what people are "allowed" to admit or how society might react. And why do half a million internet strangers have to hear about people's every thought and feeling anyway? I mean, I imagine most people who need to share this kind of information do it with one or two people they actually know, rather than on the news or in a magazine in front of god and everybody. I think that's exactly right.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:27 PM on January 3, 2011 [14 favorites]


But people never say they regret it. Everyone is always careful to add that proviso "but it was so worth it" or "best thing to ever happen to me" or "most important thing in my life". You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who'd admit publicly just how worse off they are, overall.

Well, are their kids right there when you're talking about these things? Because I'm sure I'm not the only parent haunted by the vision of their kid tearfully telling a therapist about the day they found out they ruined Mommy's life, or she didn't really want them, or she hated being a Mommy. Even if you regret your kid, you hopefully do not want to mess them up in that way.
posted by emjaybee at 8:27 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I totally agree with Brandon Blatcher.

It's been obvious to me since I was, oh, about fourteen, that childcare is really hard and families are f'ed up. I keep wondering, do these men and women literally never see children until they have their own? That french woman who wrote the book mentions being an only child and buying into the myth of the big happy family. Did she never babysit? Had no cousins? Was the first of her friends to have kids?

And Louis CK comes across the same way, perhaps exacerbated by the fact that his kids are girls. It's like he's never seen a kid in his life, or never knew that female kids do gross things just like male kids. And yeah, it's comedy, but there are moments there that I read as pretty genuine.

It strikes me as bizzarely out of touch. How does this come as a surprise to people?

I've been agonizing over whether having kids is worth it since about fourteen, literally. (Obviousy I mean in my future, not right then) And babysitting, learning more about it, in order to facillitate making that decision. You have to decide this stuff beforehand. That's why there's such a selection bias for people who have kids thinking it's worth it.

And it's also sort of insensitive to people who really do have hard families, like with disabled kids. I mean, these people think their kids are bad? Compared to what?

Of course, I guess it's possible that they got pregnant accidentally.

A caveat: I don't mean to shame people who just want to complain a little bit about how things are hard, or harder than they thought. That's cathartic, and even educational in a way that can help others understand what it's really like. I'm not a everyone-must-be-a-happy-robot nazi. But there's a line where people really regret having kids and it's like...who are you going to blame but yourself? God? Society? Your parents? I keep thinking of the argument that "ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking it."
posted by Nixy at 8:32 PM on January 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cute parents.
posted by kozad at 8:34 PM on January 3, 2011


Of course, I guess it's possible that they got pregnant accidentally.

Well, yeah. Something like a third of births in the US are the result of unintended pregnancies.

Because I'm sure I'm not the only parent haunted by the vision of their kid tearfully telling a therapist about the day they found out they ruined Mommy's life, or she didn't really want them, or she hated being a Mommy. Even if you regret your kid, you hopefully do not want to mess them up in that way.

It's not like they're not going to know if you don't tell them.
posted by enn at 8:46 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


taboo #1: pointing out that your boring, obvious TED talk is little more than mediocre marketing for your humdrum magazine
posted by sid at 9:04 PM on January 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


Well, yeah. Something like a third of births in the US are the result of unintended pregnancies.

That assumption would change my whole argument and make it about 10,000 more contentious and and nuanced and I don't think I want to touch it with a ten-foot pole. I'll just leave it at that.
posted by Nixy at 9:05 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Er, 10,000 times more.
posted by Nixy at 9:06 PM on January 3, 2011


That's a Volvo Truck of Love.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:09 PM on January 3, 2011


Here's something I sometimes feel odd saying: I love being a parent and I love having a baby and I am so much happier now. Seems like all the articles tell me I should be much more miserable than I am.
posted by bq at 9:22 PM on January 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Taboo: Noun. Something that everyone does while getting titilated by claiming that no one does it.

"I didn't fall in love my child right away": About 2,760,000 results (0.34 seconds)

"I can't talk about how lonely having a baby can be": About 41,200,000 results (0.35 seconds)

"I can't talk about my miscarriage" About 15,300,000 results (0.40 seconds)

"I can't say that my average happiness has declined": About 2,520,000 results (0.10 seconds)
Actually #1 has just one result, #2 has only one result #3 has only one result, and so does #4. All of them are this thread.

If you don't include quotation marks in the query you're just searching for pages that contain those words, in any order, anywhere on the page.

I mean for query #1, here's the 4th result (#3 is this thread, btw)
It's no good to fall in love with the oven if you are made of dough. I didn't have a cute mold, but I had fun with the frosting. ..... I will do everything to protect my child pictures as I protecting my child too. I can tell you right away that there is never ever going to be "Mila's Daydreams
It's two different topics, neither related to the original query.

---

Also TED has completely jumped the shark. I would argue that it jumped the shark a while ago, but seriously.
posted by delmoi at 9:28 PM on January 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh, and I don't mean to say those things aren't talked about, but simply quoting search result numbers is completely meaningless.
posted by delmoi at 9:31 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did she never babysit? Had no cousins? Was the first of her friends to have kids?

Those circumstances could happen to anyone. I was too close in age to babysit my younger siblings, and my first part-time job was working for my uncle's catering business as a dishwasher.

I had younger siblings and cousins though, and got a pretty clear picture of how much work it is to raise a child. But when I first suggested that I didn't want to do that particular kind of work, everyone said I was wrong, that I'd change my mind, that it was all worth it anyway, and that I wouldn't be a 'real' grownup until I'd had a baby.

I wouldn't call this stuff taboo anymore. But it's not a common topic of conversation with people who haven't had kids yet - a lot of parents wait until you've had your own kids before they bare their soul about how it's worked out for them. It's barely been a decade since blogs were written and read by a wide audience who don't have tech connections, how else were people supposed to learn about the dark side if no-one would tell them?
posted by harriet vane at 10:26 PM on January 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Rufus Griscom reminds me of Don Music, only less insightful.
posted by fartknocker at 10:53 PM on January 3, 2011


So their pre-baby "research" did not include talking to an actual parent?
posted by madajb at 11:07 PM on January 3, 2011


. Did she never babysit? Had no cousins? Was the first of her friends to have kids?

This is not an impossible circumstance.
I never babysat when I was a kid.
My nearest cousin with a child is about 5000 miles away. I have never met the new addition to the family. I did not meet the next youngest until he was about 9.
The first of my close friends had a child approximately one month before I did.

I didn't really have much of a clue what I was getting into, but I sure knew it wasn't going to be anything like a parenting magazine. heh.
posted by madajb at 11:31 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


explosion: "No one's allowed to admit that it wasn't worth it. [...] Society would absolutely savage anyone who said such a thing."

And rightfully so. Society needs those children for the war machine production lines advancement of civilization.
posted by brokkr at 12:42 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


ZPG — almost gone, but not forgotten?
posted by cenoxo at 3:23 AM on January 4, 2011


A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift (1729) — For Preventing The Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being A Burden to Their Parents or Country, and For Making Them Beneficial to The Public:
I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom a very great additional grievance; and, therefore, whoever could find out a fair, cheap, and easy method of making these children sound, useful members of the commonwealth, would deserve so well of the public as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.
Soylent Green: the franchise opportunity of the Millennium.
posted by cenoxo at 3:50 AM on January 4, 2011


Parenting adds greatly to my happiness. Every time I see a frazzled parent struggling with a screaming brat, or a drained-looking mother or father trying to negotiate a crowded bus or shop with a stroller, I just get a little glow of genuine, unsullied joy that these things will never be part of my life. I think the only thing that makes me happier is hearing a parent telling me about all the joy I'm missing by having chosen not to shackle my entire life and income to offspring for at least twenty years. That routine always lightens my darkest mood.
posted by Decani at 4:13 AM on January 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


So their pre-baby "research" did not include talking to an actual parent?

A lot of parents don't want to tell you the gory details until *after* pregnancy has started. Or they make light of it and follow up with a story about how Junior said the cutest thing the other day. I dunno why, maybe they're sleep deprived after a 4am wakeup from the baby. Or they're not happy with their choice and want someone else to do it so they feel validated. Or it doesn't occur to them that people need to know this stuff before they make a life-altering decision.

After pregnancy, they're full of horror stories. And no matter how pro-choice people are, it's still a bit awkward to say "well, I had the abortion because I found out that eventually I'd eat food that my kid had chewed then spat out on the floor and not see anything wrong with that".
posted by harriet vane at 4:48 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, what has happened with TED talks? They used to be interesting, relevant, vibing the future and now I get silliness that in no way has impact beyond a surface chuckle o annoyed sigh.

I am, in theory, one of their target audience and have broke all but one of the taboos. Welcome to the club now, fucking suck it up. You are committed and you can be as gallows humored as you like, but you have responsibilities now and that means fulfilling your responsibilities to that life changing, life sucking, resource draining bundle of joy that will put you in long term care at the right time. Idiots.
posted by jadepearl at 5:22 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


But they are so cool. And evolved. Surely any offspring of such a wonderful, attractive couple would immediately realize their station in life and go forth to be the coolest kid evar.

Pure marketing. I will never see Ted Talks in the same way.
posted by readery at 5:29 AM on January 4, 2011


Jesus, Penelope live-Tweeted her miscarriage! What does a girl have to do to get people to pay attention?

Funny you mention her- just today she posted this.


Every now and then, a post like that gives me a tiny glimpse into the passionate, inchoate deliria of other people's lives. My response is predictable these days- close the window and go back to bed.
posted by malusmoriendumest at 5:31 AM on January 4, 2011


Isolation? Yeah. Have a kid with special needs. Quote from a family member, "[they have tests], so you don't have to have another one of those."

And oddly enough, in talking with a friend of mine who miscarried, we discovered a lot of commonality in how people reacted to our circumstances. Generally, people don't know how to react to an atypical pregnancy/birth. They do know how to react to a typical birth.
posted by plinth at 6:31 AM on January 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


The only thing that's worth anything in this life is the quality of our connection to and bonds with other people. It's the only thing that will last from generation to generation.

Some of us build the civilisation and contribute the advances to knowledge and technology upon which those future generations will stand. (And hopefully not all of those people will share the above sentiment. Hopefully among their number will be enough who build upon our civilisation, as many of us have built on the civilisation of those who preceded us.)

To suggest that the only worthwhile pursuit is making friends and babies, is repugnant to me.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:42 AM on January 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


He looks a lot like [not dad] doesn't he/she?
posted by MuffinMan at 6:43 AM on January 4, 2011


But there's a line where people really regret having kids and it's like...who are you going to blame but yourself? God? Society? Your parents? I keep thinking of the argument that "ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking it."

I think there is some weight in the contention that you were brought up by society to live a certain way (go to school, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids, repeat) and that your society pushed you into doing something that was really very wrong for you.

The fact that having a child (or buying a house, or whatever) might be very wrong for you is not going to slacken the constant pressure - from everyone from Hollywood to your own family to the stories you read as a kid growing up - to do things the way they are done. And constant assurances that it'll be fine! You'll love it!

Kids is one where there aren't take-backs, and the whole game is set up so you'll wind up with them, intentionally or not.

I think in this kind of situation, it's quite legitimate to cry foul at the game itself, even though personal culpability is clearly also involved. You can blame society as well as yourself - the game looks pretty clearly rigged to me.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:57 AM on January 4, 2011


Current headlines on Babble.com:

How to become a Popular Blogger, 36 insider tips from Babble's top 50

Bye Bye Holidays, Hello Clean Eating: How to lose weight the natural way

10 Tips for Brightening up Your Kid's Room

12 Months of Cute Celebrity Kids

10 Things to Know about your body before giving birth

Full of Flavor, Not Fat! 15 Hearty and Healthy meals for your family

Let Your Baby Sleep Outside? Surprising parenting wisdom from Scandinavia

I also like how there's categories for pregnancy, baby, toddler, kid and mom, but not dad or teenager or young adult.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:59 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


"And on the way back, the two of us thought that it would be nice to see an exhibition on Belgian surrealists. Once inside the museum, the children began to be awful." Laure said that the exhibition was "bullshit." Cecil began to scream, so Yves took him outside."

If you tried to make me look at Belgian surrealist so-called art, I'd start screaming too. Good on the little bastards.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 7:29 AM on January 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obviously she's not going to be up and partying, but what's wrong with friends and family coming over to chat or take care of things? Instead, new mothers seem to get put into this virtual quarantine.

Not to speak for all parents, but you want to know a little secret? A lot of new parents are quite happy to put themselves in a virtual quarantine when their children are born because they're actually kind of sick of socializing with you, especially once they see it brought into sharp relief how petty, self-centered, un-empathetic and inconsiderate many of you are when it comes to considering the actual challenges and difficulties faced by new parents. And for some, parenting actually provides a welcome escape from some of the more oppressive obligations of contemporary social existence--the demand for near-constant availability, for example. It's not always about you, you know.

As a parent myself, I'm positively thrilled for the opportunity not to have to center my life so much around catering to the needs of the random people who float in and out of my social sphere as time goes by. It's nice to focus on building and developing a permanent relationship for a change, because my experience has tended to show me that, over time, even my closest social relations are likely not going to be around forever. My son, on the other hand, will always be a part of my life.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:02 AM on January 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


Wait, parenting is an escape from "the demand for near-constant availability?"
posted by echo target at 8:26 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Am I a reactionary for feeling like there's something disturbingly shallow and self-regarding in discussing the existence of another person as though it were some consumer choice you made to accessorize your own life? Like, ugh, never should have bought that Dell, nobody told me it would turn out to be such a lemon, or, I'm glad I saw that Panera ad before lunch; their salad is just as good as it looks in the pictures?

Pretty magazine spreads are a horrible reason to create a new person, just as puke and sleepless nights are not really a valid reason to subsequently regret the existence of that person. I love my daughter and she makes me unbelievably happy day-to-day, but I realize that's neither her purpose nor her obligation, because she is a separate human being, not some purse I bought. By all means, let's share openly and feel free to vent our feelings, but I don't mind there being a little residual shame around the act of saying openly that I regret my child's existence. Sometimes, taboos are there to help our better feelings prevail.
posted by Bardolph at 8:47 AM on January 4, 2011 [14 favorites]


Wait, parenting is an escape from "the demand for near-constant availability?"

Well, yes--at least, it can represent an escape from those kinds of expectations coming from one's more demanding friends and acquaintances. Retreating into one's family can be healthy sometimes, helping one maintain one's independence among their peer groups. Granted, too much retreat into family life can also rob one of one's sense of independence, but ultimately, when it's your kids demanding your time, you know they're probably going to be part of your life for the long haul. Your current friend-cloud isn't necessarily going to matter to you in the same way a couple of years from now. It's a more long-term kind of satisfaction, for those who find it satisfying (not to suggest that everyone necessarily does or should).
posted by saulgoodman at 9:41 AM on January 4, 2011


Wait, parenting is an escape from "the demand for near-constant availability?"

Ha! Good point, echo target. Few people will understand what "near-constant availability" means until they become parents. However, at least in my case, being a parent means being constantly available to people I really like.
posted by fartknocker at 9:52 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ted became HuffPo while I wasn't looking?
posted by coolguymichael at 11:30 AM on January 4, 2011


Which child to eat first when society collapses. Man, that really pisses people off, especially if you do it at church.
posted by staggering termagant at 12:13 PM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


They're a really cute couple. She looks like she'd always be well coiffed and extremely pretty. In fact, she even looks really pretty like five minutes after giving birth. Did they hire a professional photographer?

I don't know, actually, I like to hear about this kind of stuff, even as a childless person. I never bothered having kids because I never gave a lot of thought about it. I also didn't think my spouse cared about it because he never said anything, so I didn't want to be the one responsible for bringing more burden into our lives.

I've been wondering about a lot of taboos surrounding the whole parenthood stuff, but I think specifically about women and pregnancy. I'm pretty ashamed to say that there was a lot of stuff about pregnancy and how it changes the body, and its risks that I didn't know about because I was told that pregnancy is when your body is at its healthiest. And I only learned recently that there are huge risks, which I never figured out until my classmate ended up with gestational diabetes and another ended up with hypothyroidism. I also recently learned about instances of prolapsed uteruses.

I wonder if moms are often forced to swallow emotions they have about their post-pregnancy bodies or their own fears about how their body will change during pregnancy. I would guess that no one is really allowed to talk about their bodies and feelings about their bodies unless it's positive ("vessel for humanity") stuff, or else you tend to get angry looks or dismissed as shallow or in possession of some kind of disorder. Being open about your fears about your body or aging or anything at all is often seen as rude and potentially hurtful to others in your company.

I was listening to a drive time radio show once when the female host was being rude about women who schedule C-sections (she assumed it's all because they're being vain and self-centered). She made it seem like the increasing popularity of it was among upper middle class women on Blackberries worrying about their vaginas getting stretched out.
posted by anniecat at 1:29 PM on January 4, 2011


A lot of parents don't want to tell you the gory details until *after* pregnancy has started. Or they make light of it and follow up with a story about how Junior said the cutest thing the other day.

Hmmm. I'm beginning to realize why I have a reputation for being a little too honest amongst my peer group. heh.

On the plus side though, people don't quite have the same "post pregnancy euphoria" expectations of dads as much as they do of moms.
posted by madajb at 3:57 PM on January 4, 2011


I was at the gym today and several people people, older men and women, were talking to one of the male trainers, whose wife is pregnant for the second time. They were all laughing about how his next full night of sleep will be in twenty years, assuming he has enough cash left for a decent mattress. It was laughing and good natured and loud in a frigging gym. So who the hell are these people that are surprised that having kids isn't picture postcard of unending bliss?! Jesus.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:01 PM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


So who the hell are these people that are surprised that having kids isn't picture postcard of unending bliss?! Jesus.

Yeah, I mean damn, almost everybody knows what meconium is by now. And we've all seen babies crowning on the Discovery channel. There are few secrets left in the inner sanctums of parenthood.

The personal costs of parenthood are generally well understood (I'd argue the benefits sometimes less so). We can all appreciate the potential parenthood/career trade-offs. We've all got friends who's kids drive them crazy, etc. But not all kids drive their parents crazy.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:38 PM on January 4, 2011


Ted talks; the new after dinner slide show.

How do I get one?
posted by msalt at 10:34 PM on January 4, 2011


meconium: poop = kimchee: cabbage
posted by msalt at 10:35 PM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was listening to a drive time radio show once when the female host was being rude about women who schedule C-sections (she assumed it's all because they're being vain and self-centered).

As an observer, body issues definitely seem to be a Big Thing, and understandably so too, but it has a large dark side. For one example, one mother I know who retained the face and figure of a model seems to be under permanent exclusion from the mom club on grounds of, well, it kind of smells like it's because she clearly didn't pay The Price Women Must Pay To Be Moms.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:43 PM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reading over this thread, I'm truly surprised at how 'obvious' these two's points are... Am I the only one who never hears a single bad thing about having kids from parents, who even talk about all the poop and sleepless nights with the "hardest job you'll ever love" veneer?

Maybe it's because I come from a big Catholic family, but when I was still with my long-term girlfriend, at least once per visit I'd hear "When YOU start having kids... etc" (not if, when), and well, I'm a bright and enlightened child of the Internet Age too, but I can see how others in the exact same situation might think "hey, babies sound fun! Sure, I've heard scary terms like 'post-partum depression', but these are my FRIENDS and FAMILY! And they absolutely won't stop telling me how amazing it is, and how 'it all changes when you see your baby for the first time!' "

Further, judging by this thread I guess I'm the only one who sees every tv show and movie featuring the arrival of The Baby as a holy revelation: the line that divides Boy and Man: happy-go-lucky Jim Halpert was just a directionless prankster until he knocked up Pam, and now aren't they just adorable constantly, in fact, it's so important that every other character and plot element in the show froze in time to focus on their transformation as a couple, and his transformation into a man. Real Men raise babies and start families, and not making this your main goal in life makes you an inhuman drone like Dwight.

Look, I hate ads dressed up as not-ads too, and this is hardly one of the better TED talks I've seen, but really, are the points they're making so obvious that it's repetitive to the point of offensive that they're making a talk of it? Or is it (appropriately enough) like wearing condoms: something that SHOULD be common knowledge, but isn't because of social 'taboo' and lack of education?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:55 AM on January 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


...but really, are the points they're making so obvious that it's repetitive to the point of offensive that they're making a talk of it?

I suspect it's a personal thing. To some it's a surprise, to others, no. Different social or class circles maybe? I don't know? But pretty much everyone I've known has been familiar with the idea that having kids is hard and takes up a lot of energy, time and resources.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:04 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


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