Monday, December 24, 2007

Frances Prepares for Santa

Frances took a picture of the note she left for Santa. She wanted to have a memory of it in case Santa takes it with him.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What's with all the Santa hate?

Does everybody hate Santa? Am I the only person who loves playing Santa for my kids and believes that no irreparable harm is being done to my children because they believe in Santa? My 7 year old already, mostly against my wishes, already knows about sex and war and racism. But she still believes in Santa Claus. What's wrong with that?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Rebecca Walker's Baby Love (or, How Pregnancy Can Apparently Short Circuit Your Brain)

I am a sucker for memoirs about pregnancy and motherhood. (I'm also a sucker for books about the lives of the Manhattan elite as detailed in books like the Nannies Diaries and Admissions, but that's another post). Perhaps it's because I found the state of being pregnant and being responsible for someone else's life to be profoundly perspective shifting (and continues to be so). I'm always eager to read about someone else's experience of that shift.

For these reasons, I picked up Rebecca Walker's latest book, Baby Love. In it Walker, daughter of Alice Walker and author of a famous essay in Ms. calling third wave feminism into being, details her pregnancy and the birth of her son. She also details the growing estrangement from her famous mother.

I want to like this book. I really do. There should be many more books about the craziness that is pregnancy (the way you practically inhale whatever food is placed in front of you, when you're not throwing up after smelling someone's too strong perfume; the way you question every life decision you've ever made; the way you want to do nothing but lay on the couch and watch birthing shows on TLC, even though every episode leaves you in a puddle of hysterical tears; the way you are convinced every other day that getting pregnant was a really really bad idea). This books offers up those kind of details, but it also comes to the following maddening conclusions:

--2nd wave feminism's deep ambivalence about motherhood, and the children they mothered, have left a generation of women deeply scarred and lost (this based on Rebecca's incredibly fucked up relationship with Alice)

--women are daughters until they become mothers; in other words, until you have grown a person inside your body, you are developmentally incomplete

--the love you have for a biological child is necessarily different from the love you have for an adopted or stepchild; it is impossible to love them the same way

--your connection to your child is forged and is irrevocable the moment you find out you are pregnant; biology dictates it

There are so many things appallingly wrong with these conclusions that it's hard to know where to begin. I will say this though: it is sad that Rebecca Walker, a woman who is an icon to so many young women, a woman who has made a career asserting the necessity of continuing the fight for gender equality, would write a book basically telling women that they are incomplete if they don't have biological children and are damaged in some way if they don't instantaneously fall madly in love with their unborn child. There are many criticisms to be lodged at the second wave, but surely, if it gave us nothing else, it gaves us the knowledge and the courage to believe that we are so so much more than our wombs.

And on a related note, Walker's brand of earth-mother, power-of-the-womb nonsense begs the question of fatherhood. Perhaps this is my on personal soapbox, resulting from the way Brian and I parent our kids and the decisions we've made about how to organize our family, but it kills me whenever I read an account of new parenthood that focuses only on the mother. I refuse to believe that my husband is the only father who went on his own perspective-shifting journey when he found out he'd be a dad, who has a deep, unshakeable bond with his children, whose idea of father-ing extends well beyond throwing a football and the ocassional disciplinary lecture. Rebecca Walker knows better than this, yet her book gives no indication that she remembers that fact.

In the end, I supposed that Rebecca Walker is allowed to have whatever experience of pregnancy that she has. She can only be the person she is , after all, even if that person is awfully self-absorbed and frustrating.