Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Motherhood Musings a Day Late

I am child-free. I am not childless and I believe there is a distinct difference.

I have also been known to leave the house on Mother's Day. For the past 3 years, while out and about, getting my coffee, a newspaper, crack, what have you, people say to me, "Happy Mother's Day!" and it perplexes me. Not all women in their thirties who happen to be sporting a wedding band are mothers.

As I may have mentioned, I have worked some retail in my teacher-y life, so I understand the whole "automated response" phenomenon all too well. Customer says, "Where are your scarves?" and you say, "Certainly! Enjoy your day and thank you for shopping at Ann Taylor." Retail really messes with your synapses. I would come home from a long day at Ann and when the phone rang, I would pick it up and say, "Thank you for calling Ann Taylor, how may I help you?" My poor mother. She could never understand how she kept calling Ann Taylor by mistake.

So I get that people who work with the public probably see dozens of mothers out that day and just add the "Happy Mother's Day" thing to their standard greeting.

But Schietto Sister and I were chatting about this a while ago and she pointed out that women who had recently miscarried or were struggling with infertility might find this really upsetting. And I agree, which is why I meant to post this yesterday, sort of as a PSA . . . but, the road to hell and all that. So, next year, be careful not to blurt it out randomly to any woman who appears to be of childbearing age.


Last week, a fellow doctoral student said something to me about my kids and I was very confused. "Kids?" I said. "I don't have kids. That I know of." He's a super great guy and has a killer Irish accent, so he can get away with a lot. He was shocked, "Aw, really? I had you pegged a dead-ringer for a mom."

I'm not insulted. I'm just confused. What does this mean? Could it have something to do with my completely-wasted-on-me-child-bearing hips? Do I look that tired and frazzled? It was finals week! Everybody looks really tired and frazzled - it doesn't mean we're all mothers. I also try really hard to not have a soccer mom haircut. (No offense to soccer moms, I just don't want to be one. Or look like one.) I don't wear mom jeans!! I DON'T! I don't drive a mini-van, either. And believe me, he didn't mistake me for a mom because of my patient, loving and maternal demeanor. I'm mystified.


Blogger Antique Mommy said...

I so appreciate this post. Even though I have a kid now, I hate Mother's Day. (I remember what it was like to be infertile.) It dismisses those who suffer from infertility, miscarriage or someone whose mother has died. So insensitive. Actually, I hate all the Hallmark holidays. So contrived and forced and I don't suffer that very well.

May 15, 2006 5:09 PM  
Blogger ColoradoCastaway said...

I think Maybe you got this one all wrong. I'm just guessing here but I'd bet he found you so intoxicatingly beautiful to behold that he just naturally assumed that you were a MILF and he wanted you.....Bad!!!! LOL, He He :)

ps the word verification on this one was like writing a frickin' essay

May 15, 2006 5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard a touching and heartwarming testimony of a woman who had been childless and not by choice. As she told her story, my eyes filled with tears. She is an incredibly strong woman and one that I admire. She no longer goes out on MD and she stays home from church (her hubby is a minister)to avoid the reminders of her loss and I can't blame her because the reminders are EVERYWHERE!

I do not have children of my own - and because of my age and other factors, probably will not. Not sure how I feel about that yet - but I do appreciate your post on this and the reminder to be a little more sensitive about the stereotyping.

Thanks -

May 16, 2006 8:16 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Almost all kids love their mothers, right? I'm guessing that the great guy with the killer Irish accent loves his mother, too, and has very fond memories of her loving attention.

So, in an odd kind of way, he was trying to give you a compliment. You're probably one of those people who kids wish would be their parents - you know, all cool and down-with-that and all.

Yes? :)

May 16, 2006 11:26 AM  
Blogger liberalbanana said...

HA - the Mom Jeans ad is hilarious!!!

The cashier in our cafeteria at work said Happy Mother's Day to me when I bought some fries last Friday and I was doubly perplexed. One, I DEFINITELY do not look like a mom. And two, I'm not even married! (Not that it's a requirement, but if someone's making assumptions it might lead them to the wrong conclusion if you're wearing a ring!) So weird.

I get pissed when people just assume that everyone celebrates Christian holidays. This year when people said, "Happy Easter!" to me I'd say, "I don't celebrate, but thanks anyway!"

May 16, 2006 12:19 PM  
Anonymous heather said...

here in Switzerland one of the supermarkets gave out bars of chocolate to all the women on the Saturday before Mothers' Day with the phrase 'Schoenen Muttertag'. It didn't worry me unduly - I was getting free stuff, but I was slightly nonplussed - but I can imagine it being terribly distressing for some women (and their partners).

May 16, 2006 12:52 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

Aww, Sara you are too sweet! I'm guessing since one of my husband's other nicknames for me is "word nerd," that no, I couldn't be all cool and down-with-that, even if I tried. But I appreciate the thought!

May 16, 2006 8:15 PM  
Blogger Schietto Sister said...

I AM a mom and don't have a mom haircut. Yes, I drive a minivan, but I listen to cool music while doing so. Not all people who are frumpy looking are moms; not all moms are frumpy looking! I think that most people don't take the extra few seconds to think outside of themselves and really think about what they are saying. Maybe we just need a little more genuine communication instead of rote greetings.

May 18, 2006 11:30 AM  

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