Posted by: Hannah | 03/03/2014

in which Mama Bear gets mad

I am a mom of boys.

My bathrooms often have a faint odour of “Eau de Pee”, because little boys are bad at aiming but dearly want to pee standing up.

I know the names of all the Skylanders and far too much about their individual special abilities.

Dinner last night ended in uproarious laughter when one boy farted loudly… which made another laugh until he farted… which caused a third to say “excuse me”, while giggling, because “I farted too. Mine was silent, but deadly.”

Boys, I have always said, are different from girls. I spend my day with two boys and two girls, and they just react differently to things. I realize my sample size is small and correlation does not equal causation, but I’ve seen it and I believe it. So.

But what I don’t believe is that all men are inherently lazy, stupid, or irresponsible just because they are men.

This morning at the bus stop I had to listen to the other two moms complaining at length about their husbands. Now, I have met both of the men in question and here’s the thing – they are controlling, backward, uneducated, chain-smoking yahoos who think a woman’s place is to work outside the home (but only when it won’t interfere with the husband’s leisure time, natch) AND handle all the household tasks alone, too. They make Ralph Cramden look enlightened. They don’t hit their women because they’ve at least taken on board that particular lesson, but they do insult them regularly (online, in one case), treat them like second-class citizens, and dictate to them every facet of their lives. They are, in fact, assholes.

I get that.

What I don’t get it is the need to loudly, continually, and publicly talk about their asshole husbands. In front of the children that they share with said assholes. Oh, and I really don’t get the default position – to wit, rolling one’s eyes heavenward while sighing “men!” like somehow that word explains / excuses every single dickish thing your chosen life partner & co-parent has ever done or will ever do.

And what thoroughly sends me into a rage-spiral is when you do all this pissing and moaning within earshot of four boys aged 6 to 9

My kids are not assholes. My husband is not an asshole. Neither is my father, or my brother, or my little sister’s boyfriend, or 99% of the men I meet in person or online in the run of a week. The principal at my kids’ school? Not an asshole. Their bus drivers? Not assholes. The guy who runs the convenience store and the guy that runs the tailor shop and my favourite cashier at Sobeys and the man who runs our dog’s boarding kennel and all the dads of my dayhome kids? NOT ASSHOLES.

When these women decide to excuse their husbands’ bad behaviour by saying “oh, they’re men, but all men are assholes, what are you going to do”, they are doing several things that infuriate me.

  1. They are insulting all the men in the world who aren’t assholes, including my three sons.
  2. They are absolving their husbands of the need to improve because you know, they just can’t help it. Because penises.
  3. They are absolving themselves of the need to account for their own life choices. Not their fault! PENISES.

These women are miserably unhappy. Their husbands are bad with money, make terrible decisions that impact the whole family, are lousy parents and generally horrible people. But neither of these women is without options. They both have jobs. They both have family nearby who could help with the children. They aren’t trapped. They just have decided that having their little luxuries (beagles! big TVs! twice-a-year trips to DisneyWorld!) are worth being miserable and sour day in and day out.

That’s fine. That’s their choice. It’s not the life I would choose, but I don’t walk in their shoes. But please, ladies, if you’ve made that choice – FUCKING OWN IT.

Stop spending valuable minutes of my life complaining to me about your goddamn husbands. JUST STOP. You’re not going to leave? Ever? Good. Make your peace with that and SHUT UP. Stop badmouthing fifty percent of the human race. 

You married an asshole. Good enough then. Stop to consider that perhaps complaining about that person every waking minute makes you an asshole, too.

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Responses

  1. “Own your choices” should be a required maxim.

    • I’m thinking a line of t-shirts might be appropriate here.

  2. Ah yes. I have lots of feelings about things like these. Also about things like “Girls are the BEST” “Girls can do anything!” etc., not because I don’t think girls can do anything – they certainly can – but often implication is that boys are inferior.

    Only sort of related: feelings of rage when someone I know found out she’s expecting her second boy and is incredibly sad and disappointed.

    • I feel stabby just thinking of your “friend’s” reaction. I was going to type some kind of rant here, but I’ll just leave it at that.

    • YES, the girl power thing drives me nuts. I totally get why it started – and I think it was important, once – but now boys are constantly hearing how they mature slower, should be starting school later, are noisy & farty & bouncy & crazed. AND WHILE THAT MAY BE TRUE, it doesn’t make them inferior, it just makes them different.

      As for your friend… well. Yeah. Have I mourned the girl I never had? Sure. I had some lovely old-timey names picked out. But as I tell my boys regularly, I wouldn’t trade ’em for a million girls, nor was I disappointed (WTF?) that they were boys. I just sometimes wonder about that girl.

      NOT ENOUGH TO GET PREGNANT AGAIN, MICHAEL, STAY BACK.

  3. Like Nicole I struggle with the girls are the best! GRRRLLL power! thing because, well, I WAS a girl and I HAVE a girl, but I also have a boy and so far no one has bothered to mention BOY power or how boys are so awesome within his earshot and it depresses me. Why does it have to be one or the other?

    Also, I know very few assholes (thank god) and you know, some are men, but some are women too so, yeah. Own your life choices bus stop moms.

    • Anyone can be an asshole. I can be an asshole sometimes. So can my husband. The difference is the state is transient and fleeting, and also, neither one of us puts up with assholishness for long.

      Our community centre has free exercise classes for girls, but not for boys. Ask me sometime how I feel about THAT.

      • Yes, Oldest’s elementary school has a running club for girls. No equivalent or any other club for boys. Feeling super hostile again. Off to view calming manatee pictures.

  4. Yeah! What you said! And what they said! Asshole neighbours. Sigh. Asshole winter.

    • It’s true that I probably wouldn’t have stewed about this all morning if we weren’t starting the fifth month of fucking winter.

  5. I’m always uncomfortable when the gender of the unborn baby is discussed with the women I care for – people make jokes about how the baby is hard to find on the CTG trace “because he’s a naughty boy” or “she’s a little diva”. It’s only light-hearted banter to keep things relaxed at a tense moment, but it starts the gendered treatment so young. I’ve yet to dress a newly-born baby girl in anything except pink (boys often get yellow or beige instead of blue).

    • Now, this is interesting – and I know exactly what you mean. The gendered talk starts so young (although this is the first I considered it actually happening in utero, WOW.)

      • I’m guilty of not doing as much to avoid it as I feel I ought – asking “do you know if it’s a boy or a girl” or my pet peeve “do you know what you’re having?” (hint: it’s a BABY) is such an easy way of starting a conversation when you enter a room and meet another new woman. Also I am aware that it’s not the time or place for my somewhat radical worldview to be aired.

  6. I love this: “That’s fine. That’s their choice. It’s not the life I would choose, but I don’t walk in their shoes. But please, ladies, if you’ve made that choice – FUCKING OWN IT.”

    Preach it, sister! But I also love that you said, “Because penises.” Nope, penises are not a valid reason for this behavior–from the males or females in this scenario.

  7. Laughing because I read the line “other two moms complaining at length about their husbands” as “other two moms complaining about the length of their husbands”. I got really confused as the paragraph went on…..

  8. YES THIS.

    I have gone on this exact same rant before, and it’s the reason why I can’t watch sitcoms anymore. Because the plot of almost every sitcom is:

    Guy is asshole.
    Wife/girlfriend gets mad.
    Man apologizes.
    Woman accepts apology.

    This is the plot of EVERY SITCOM, including The Big Bang Theory and other supposedly more enlightened shows.

    And all of them conspire to convince women like these that all men are assholes, so their guy isn’t so bad.

    That’s why people watch these shows and laugh. They laugh with relief.

    And I am like, “no.”

    Men are not assholes. YOUR MAN is an asshole.

    Although one woman, upon finding out I was pregnant, went on a rant about how “ALL MEN turn into assholes when you have a baby. ALL OF THEM.”

    And it bothered me, and when I had a baby, I kind of felt that she was right. Because parenthood is inherently unbalanced. The concept of the truly equal marriage is still just a concept. Because when you’re nursing, and you are on mat leave, and your husband works all day, and therefore needs to sleep at night… YOU are the one doing most of the baby care.

    And when it’s two in the morning and your baby is screaming and your husband just moves down to the couch, because he has to go to work in the morning, you think, “what an asshole.” Even though you know that if it were a Saturday night, he would help. Even though you know that he is suffering from sleep deprivation. Even though you know that YOU can spend tomorrow in your pyjamas.

    But even in the times where I have thought “what an asshole”, have I ever blamed it on his penis. I will blame it on his job, on his mental health, or I will simply blame him.

    His penis has nothing to do with it.


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