Rabenmutter


When I was studying German, one of the words I learned that stuck out the most for me was “Rabenmutter”. The literal translation of this would be “raven mother”, but what it really means is “bad mother”. I wonder what it says about German culture that it has a specific term for a woman’s supposed lack of parenting skills. Hmmm.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about motherhood and mothers recently. It’s hard not to when you’re a thirty-something, childless woman on Facebook. None of my close friends have babies yet (or are even married) but I have plenty of acquaintances on Facebook who are diligently popping out sprog after sprog, and posting pictures of their offspring online. I should be happy for them, I suppose, but the whole thing just depresses me. I don’t like to be reminded that I am getting older, and that my childbearing years are limited.

My second youngest cat got spayed yesterday (not the latest addition to the family…the cat with the ulcerated eyes…he’s a boy) and is currently recovering on the sofa. The operation went well but the people at the free spay/neuter program I took her to managed to fuck up her vaccinations! Whereas they gave her the correct feline leukaemia one, they also gave her a dog vaccination for distemper instead of the cat one. I fucking hate incompetence in the workplace! Luckily my cat does not seem to have suffered any adverse effects because of this.

I never cease to be amazed by animals’ resilience. My cat has just had major abdominal surgery (“ovariohysterectomy” is the correct term, I believe) and yet she was frolicking about the house last night, playing with her brother, the new kitten, like nothing had happened. When I just went to check on her, she was lying on the floor beside a dismembered cockroach, for the demise of which I can only assume she is responsible. After the same operation, a human female would still be lying in hospital in agony, complaining and feeling sorry for herself. My mother is a midwife, and she used to always scoff (somewhat unfairly, I suppose) at the woman who couldn’t deal with the pain of childbirth. Apparently the more wealthy, middle-class women would always want a natural childbirth, but would be screaming for an epidural at the first contraction.

I admire the way animals just get on with childbirth, and parenting. Last summer, I visited Midwestern Man‘s family for the first time, just after some girl his brother had knocked up had given birth. OK, so I’m a mean, cold-hearted bitch, but I was irritated by the way she paraded about so proudly with the baby. Yeah, I know childbirth is a miracle blah blah blah, and I daresay I’d be pretty happy and amazed, too, if I had just had a child, but, God, why must we mythologize motherhood so much? It’s just a natural thing. Why can’t people just shut the fuck up about it and get on with the job of raising the kid?

I also hate that I’m supposed to be wildly enthusiastic about other women’s babies just because I’m a woman. I do like children at around todder age, when they start to have personalities, but, God, babies are so boring! I looked at Midwestern’s Man’s niece, and made all the socially acceptable cooing noises, but I found it hard to muster up any enthusiasm at all for a little bundle of pink, who only woke up to scream, shit and eat.

Another target of my wrath is “mommy bloggers”. On more occasions than I care to remember, I’ve clicked innocently on a link to a blog somewhere only to find myself staring at a picture of some ugly baby’s food-smeared face, and its mother’s inane commentary beneath. I can’t decide whether such women are worthy of my contempt or my pity. I despise them because it just seems like sheer arrogance on their part to assume that the moronic antics of their progeny are of interest to the world. You could argue and say “Well, don’t you think that your self-indulgent ramblings on this blog are of interest to the world, too?! You must do because you post them on your blog every day!”. To that, I would answer, “No, I do not”. I blog because it’s therapeutic to do so, but every time I do, I worry about how self-absorbed and pathetic it is to write about the things I do. “Mommy Bloggers”, on the other hand, just seem so fucking smug about the “achievement” of having pushed something the size of a bag of sugar out of their vagina.

I also find it quite depressing that feminists in bygone ages made so many sacrifices just so certain women could be at stay-at-home mothers. Now, I know that motherhood is a very difficult job, which requires a great number of skills to do well…but, quite frankly, I don’t think it’s cool at all to devote your life entirely to your children. I don’t understand why anyone would want to be a stay-at-home mother unless they could also work from home at the same time. In many ways, my ideal life would be to stay at home with the kids and to write professionally as well.

But to “just” be a stay-at-home mother?! To sacrifice my dreams and my ambitions 100% for my children? To depend on my husband financially forever? No way! I’m sorry if this comment offends anyone, but this just seems like an awfully empty existence. This is why I sometimes wonder whether I should pity these “mommy bloggers”. Maybe what I take as arrogance and smugness on their part is actually a desperate attempt to validate their existence, give some meaning to their life?

If this rant makes it sound like I don’t wants kids of my own, well, that’s not true. I would, someday, like to have children but not yet. There is definitely a part of me which is terrified of having children, and perhaps this is why I have such an intense (and irrational, too, I suppose) reaction to women who write exclusively about their kids. Last night when I was in bed, I was pondering why I feel such anger towards these women, and I had the second biggest insight of my life. The first one was around six years ago when I realized that I despise and am disgusted by weak men because my own father was weak and never stood up to my mother’s emotional abuse (of both me and him). Ever since then, I have a totally irrational urge to destroy weak men psychologially and emotionally. Last night, I realized that I’m probably afraid of having kids (and emotional commitment) because I’m petrified of being engulfed. The main form of “love” I knew growing up was my mother’s, and it wasn’t love at all – it was a form of emotional engulfment, which threatend to swallowed me alive.

I have read a lot about people who are afraid of this engulfment in various self-help books, but I never thought that I was one of them. I thought I was the victim of such people actually, as I was always the one chasing men in the past, inwardly screaming “Love me! Love me!”. While I knew this was just a form of commitment phobia (but in reverse), I didn’t quite realize until now just how afraid of emotional closeness I am. When I think of having children, I think of them swallowing up everything about me, destroying my identity.

God, I really wonder what the benefit is of all this self-knowledge? Knowing myself better doesn’t seem to help me change; it just gives me one more thing to worry about. Great. Now I’m even more worried I’ll fuck my children up, if I ever have any.

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9 thoughts on “Rabenmutter

  1. Xul September 26, 2009 at 10:39 pm Reply

    Ya know what? I fucking love your writing because you write with seemingly such ease so much of what I feel. I think we both had/have the same sort of parents.

    • petrichoric September 28, 2009 at 1:05 pm Reply

      Why, thank you for the compliment! Yes, it seems that there are a lot of us out there with fucked-up parents…

  2. LazyBuddhist September 27, 2009 at 12:55 am Reply

    Dang girl, slow those fingers down! You’re making the rest of us NaBloPoMos who can barely cough up a haiku look like total slackers.

    Anyway, I don’t do babies well myself. If someone brings one of those squalling creatures into the office (my friends don’t have babies), I really can’t bring myself to even fake cooing about it. My comment is usually, “oh, it’s a baby” and then walk away. While I recognize that is a rather cold thing to say, for some reason the mothers seem to take it as a compliment, so it works for me. So, I’m also with you on my complete lack of interest in mommy bloggers. I mean, seriously, besides other mommies who may want to commiserate or compare, who the fuck cares? And I’m also with you on the stay-at-home mom thing. I had a colleague who had to go into the work place after her divorce and kept talking about how wonderful it had been to be a stay-at-home mom. I really didn’t get it. I had an unfortunate habit of looking at her as if she had three heads whenever she went on about her good old days of staying at home. Eventually, she stopped talking about it, much to my relief.

    Damn, I only commented on your posting, and I’m already tired.

    • petrichoric September 28, 2009 at 1:08 pm Reply

      Hi, Lazy Buddhist. Don’t worry, I didn’t write such a long post every single day of NaBloPoMo. In fact, I was positively lazy for the last few days. As regards your “Oh, it’s a baby comment”, maybe I should try that. If I say that, I would at least be fulfilling my social obligations to make some comment on the baby, but I could get away quickly!

  3. phdygtry September 27, 2009 at 10:33 pm Reply

    As for mommy blogs, yes they can be on the boring, disgusting side. But I try to remember that some people blog as a more public version of picture albums. So I just look away. Yawn. Or sometimes I ooh and ahh. Babies are very special but man, are they a lot of work.

    So as a mom, I understand the pride and joy of motherhood. I also understand how blood suckingly boring it can be to stay at home. Not the kids so much as all that goes with it — the housework, the chopping of the veggies, the diapers, the wiping down of the high chair, the picking up the millionth baby toy, the chasing, the watching over to prevent head injuries, the late nights, the wet beds, the worry, the repetition, the boredom. If I could have had a maid to do all the work, and all I did was lay on the floor and let them crawl all over me? I might have enjoyed that. For about two weeks. And then I would have been bored and restless instead of bored and exhausted.

    I think it’s good that you explore the darker side of your nature, the unpleasantness of your upbringing, the underpinnings of your emotional self. It will come in handy some day. Better to figure out now than when you are a mom and it starts showing through your childrearing.

    One last thing. There well be a reason rabenmutter is a german word. My mother in law is of german heritage. Hard, hard.

  4. petrichoric September 28, 2009 at 1:13 pm Reply

    Ouch! Sorry to hear about your mother-in-law!

    Yes, I suppose you’re right about the mommy bloggers. I suppose a lot of them just do make their blogs into a more public version of a photo album…but still! I just find the cloying cuteness of their baby pictures really off-putting.

    I can well imagine that the kids themselves are not the worst part of staying at home. In my case, I don’t have any kids (although surely seven pets count as one child?!) but I am at home all the time, either working or – as is more the case these days – trying to drum up some business. It’s not so much the job that gets to me, as it is the constant isolation, not being part of something.

  5. pandabox33 September 28, 2009 at 2:34 pm Reply

    At least you can go to other blogs, just click away from mommy bloggers. I work mith mommies and their incessant ramblings about their kids, evcen the ones that are grown-up. Argh. I feel like mommyhood is a select club and it seems so boring I wonder why I want to have kids.
    Gonna puke now. 🙂

    • petrichoric September 28, 2009 at 2:49 pm Reply

      Maybe when you have kids, you will suddenly be filled with a strange and intense desire to talk about your babies, too, and your blog will be filled with pictures of them. God, I do hope not!

  6. Miss moxie November 9, 2011 at 3:10 am Reply

    I have recently found your blog, and like some creepy stalker, I have been diligently reading every post. In order. I continually find myself amazed by the way you tap directly into my mind and express how I feel so succinctly. You have a gift. I find myself irritated with acquaintances on Facebook who coo about their children as if they actually did something. The only thing they have managed to do is spread their legs. Twice. I am glad that I am not alone in this sentiment. Or the self doubt which follows such a sentiment You should read “the awakening” by Kate Chopin if you have never done so. And if you enjoy the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez (a personal favorite), then look up Jonathan Carroll.

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