Who broke motherhood?

Broken Doll Face and Head on Black Background

When one of my sons was four years old, he made a decision. He told me, “I’m never going to work as much as Daddy! He works too hard.”

My son did eventually become a lawyer like his father, but he avoided big firm law, choosing a job with lower pay but much better hours as well as the opportunity to serve the public. He’s quite willing to work hard, but he doesn’t want to be available to the office and to clients 24/7/365.

I thought of him when I read that the US birth rate has dropped to its lowest level in 30 years and may be heading down farther.

The pressure on mothers to parent “naturally” was supposed to force them back into the home; instead they’re rejecting mothering.

I wonder if we have made motherhood look too hard.

According to NPR:

The birthrate fell for nearly every group of women of reproductive age in the U.S. in 2017, reflecting a sharp drop that saw the fewest newborns since 1987, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There were 3,853,472 births in the U.S. in 2017 — “down 2 percent from 2016 and the lowest number in 30 years,” the CDC said.

That reflects a drop in nearly every age group:

Broken out by age, the 2017 birthrate fell for teenagers by 7 percent, to 18.8 births per 1,000, a record low. That figure is for women from 15 to 19 years old. For that same group, the birthrate has fallen by 55 percent since 2007 and by 70 percent since the most recent peak in 1991, the CDC said.

Women in their 40s were the only group to see a higher birthrate last year. Between the ages of 40 and 44, there were 11.6 births per 1,000 women, up 2 percent from 2016, according to the CDC’s provisional data.

Birthrates fell by 4 percent both for women from 20 to 24 years old and for women of ages 25 to 29.

For women in their 30s — a group that had recently seen years of rising birthrates — the rate fell slightly in 2017. The drop included a 2 percent fall among women in their early 30s, a group that still maintained the highest birthrate of any age group, at 100.3 births per 1,000 women.

Why is this happening?

Some claim it reflects long term demographic shifts common to all industrialized countries.

Others claim that it is the fault of the patriarchy: the lack of maternity leave forces women to choose between being good mothers or good workers, sure that they can’t be both.

Still others insist that it represents a rebuke to the patriarchy. Women no longer buckle under the societal pressure to have children and are childless by choice.

I fear we may have “broken” motherhood.

I’ve written repeatedly about my belief that the political and legal emancipation of (some) women in the 20th Century was a watershed moment in history. For the first time women were able to assert the exact same rights as men. They went from being property to property owners. They went from being economic chattel to economic engines. They were finally able to express themselves in the political, technological and artistic realms.

And that made some people very, very unhappy.

No major social change occurs without backlash and we are currently living through the backlash. On the Right there has been a rise of religious fundamentalism that insists that God wants women to be subjected to men, immured in the home and occupied only in the raising of children, often many, many children. On the Left there has been a rise of secular “religion,” the worship of Nature. Women (though not men) are pressured to raise their children the way Nature intended. And Nature supposedly intended them to give birth with excruciating pain (epidurals are “bad”); breastfeed each child exclusively for years (formula is “bad”); and literally “wear” babies on their bodies (a mother who considers her own needs is very “bad”).

Being a mother was always hard, but now the pressure on new mothers is extraordinary. How extraordinary? Consider a tweet posted several days ago by Carole Dobrich.

Dobrich is a lactation professional:

Carole is the Senior Lactation Consultant and co-director at the Herzl Family Practice Centre – Goldfarb Breastfeeding Clinic where she works with a team of IBCLCs and family physicians trained in lactation… Carole is the past president of the association québécoise des consultantes en lactation diplômées de l’IBLCE (2004 – 2008) and is the current president of INFACT Quebec and is actively involved in breastfeeding advocacy work in Quebec, Canada and internationally.

She chose to share a slide from a recent conference:

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The slide claims:

Children will never achieve their full genetic potential by starting post partum life with ingesting a pediatric fast-food prepared from the milk of an alien species.

That’s just gratuitous cruelty masquerading as breastfeeding promotion. It’s using guilt to force women back into a very constricted and constricting definition of motherhood.

As psychologist Susan Franzblau has written:

The idea that women are evolutionarily prepared to mother … is consistent with a long historical tradition of using essentialist discourse to predetermine and control women’s reproductive tasks and children’s rearing needs. Evolutionary and biological theories have been embedded in a history of misogynist discourse… Women’s “natural” function … is to reproduce and provide continual care for infants and young children. If the treatment of women differs from the treatment of men, such treatment could be justified in terms of its biological and evolutionary purposes…

It is not a coincidence that natural mothering neatly dovetails with religious fundamentalism:

Organizations such as the Christian Family Movement (established by the Catholic laity …) became the founders of the La Leche League in 1956… According to one natural childbirth advocate of the time, “childbirth is fundamentally a spiritual as well as a physical achievement …” Breastfeeding was heralded as an extension of this spiritual connection. Out of concern that recently instituted bottle-feeding and drug-assisted births would break family bonds, these religious advocates of breastfeeding prescribed a regimen that included suckling on demand day and night with no pacifier substitute … Any work that competed with the infant’s need for continuity of maternal care was out of the question. One La La Leche League International group leader said that she was “pretty negative to people who just want to dump their kids of and go to work eight hours a day.”

The pressure on mothers to parent “naturally” was supposed to force them back into the home; and for many women the artificially imposed guilt about “what children need” left women competing with each other about who suffered more for her children instead competing with men for economic equality in the workplace.

But now a new generation of women face this false choice and they are choosing differently. Having seen how their mothers and older sisters suffered to meet the ever more elaborate “requirements” for contemporary mothers they are choosing to forgo childbearing altogether. They don’t want to work as long and as hard on mothering as parenting experts prescribe. They don’t want to endure the guilt of failing to meet the arbitrary standards of good mothering. They like children but they don’t want the apparently crushing responsibility that comes with bearing them. Mothering is broken and as a result, they want no part of it.

Who broke mothering?

Advocates of natural childbirth, exclusive and extended breastfeeding, and attachment parenting broke it. Our country is going to pay a terrible price as a result. If the birth rate remains below replacement level our society will age dramatically, our social welfare programs like Social Security will fall apart and there will be no one to take care of us when we grow old.

But, hey, even though there will be far fewer children, at least they’ll be breastfed, right?

  • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

    People aren’t having kids because of poverty and the belief that any child born now will have a miserable existence ( poor labor laws, no social safety net, gutted public education, over priced health care, lousy food, lousy environment, no cheap housing etc etc ).

    White upper class Americans have made children a luxury or a status symbol with their endless chanting “don’t breed it if you can’t feed it”

    • Who?

      Exactly-trust in society has broken down to the point where people have no faith in their future. That plus reliable contraception equals fewer babies.

  • HailieJade

    Can confirm. I have never had children and I’m getting my tubes tied in 3 weeks’ time; This right here is the main reason. Motherhood, but especially this modern “natural” motherhood, holds absolutely no appeal for me.

  • Allie

    Hopefully, more and more women will embrace the #shitmom philosophy. It’s not that I aspire to be a bad mom (and I don’t think I am). It’s just that I refuse to buy into any more BS. I have seen enough anecdotal evidence all around me that proves there is no one right way to be a mom, and people need to just chill, do what works for them, and have some compassion for each other.

    • Mimc

      I’m a proud “good enough” mom. We should form a club.

  • Cat

    I assumed it was mostly about finances/house prices, but I definitely see the point that natural parenting advocacy makes motherhood look like hell. I have friends who are in despair because their two year-olds have got into the habit of breastfeeding hourly at night, but google for solutions and you’ll have to dodge the 10,000 lactivists telling you that co-sleeping and using mum as a human dummy is essential for toddler development.

    More generally, as a lurker on various parenting forums, I’ve noticed an increasing trend towards mothers being castigated for wanting a half-hour break from their babies (‘”I couldn’t do that. They’re only little for such a short tiiiime!”), whilst preferring that your partner doesn’t sod off for an extended stag weekend leaving you with twelve children including a newborn is generally derided as pathetic and controlling. But then, in many ways, I think we’re going backwards.

    • crazy mama, PhD

      I won’t say that parenting forums are the worst place on the internet because that’s a high bar indeed, but they are truly toxic. And all the worse, I think, because it’s not immediately obvious just how toxic they are. I’ll always remember the post on a BabyCenter birth board (before I knew to stay the heck away from such things) that turned into women bragging about how fast they could get out of the bathroom if their (otherwise safe) baby started crying. Or the thread where a mom was freaking out that she’d unintentionally let her baby cry for three whole minutes before he fell asleep—and she was getting chided for it!

      • AnnaPDE

        Well I hope someone is still keeping track of that kid to keep the wider community safe — after all he’s been irreparably and severely damaged by those 3 minutes and therefore 100% sure to commit at least massacre before he turns 15.

      • seenthelight

        It always took my babies ten to fifteen minutes to cry it out. They’re probably going to grow up to be psychopaths. /S

      • Cat

        I remember going on some BabyCenter pregnancy boards when I was in the first trimester and laughing at how early the competitive mommy martyrdom started. Pretty much every conversation on there went something like:

        OP: “OMG, I’m so worried, I’m 8 weeks and I accidentally had a shower/ ate a carrot/ walked across the room without thinking, and now I’m so scared that I might have hurt the baby! Will he be ok?”

        Smug mommy martyr: “Hopefully it’ll be ok just this once, hun, but I honestly couldn’t have done that. It was really tough spending my whole pregnancy in a plastic bubble eating nothing but kale and air, but nothing is too big a sacrifice for my precious lil bean! I’d never have forgiven myself if something had happened just because I selfishly wanted to eat/ breathe/ not stink so badly that the neighbours complained to the council!”

        Etc

    • Bugsy

      “I’ve noticed an increasing trend towards mothers being castigated for wanting a half-hour break from their babies (‘”I couldn’t do that. They’re only little for such a short tiiiime!”), ”

      I used to post frequently here but am more of a lurker now. That being said, the natural mama in my life who caused me to reach out to this site 3 years ago used to lament the time she spent away from her 3 or 4-year-old: “I have been away from him for a total of 30 minutes all year! He needs me so much right now.” It made me feel like an absolute failure that I needed even a short weekly break from my baby.

      • That’s messed up. Kids need a lot from you, and they will not take care of you. (Of course.) You need to take care of yourself. Breaks are essential!

        • seenthelight

          It’s also healthy to never presume that you know best. Skepticism over your own knowledge and abilities is a good thing! For me, that means knowing that not only can other people effectively care for my children, but that my children also benefit from a different adult voice in their lives. I can’t be everything to them, nor do I presume that it would be ideal, even if I could. What makes me perfect? The ability to bear children? Riiiiight.

          • Kelly

            I am eternally grateful for some of the other mothers who have been able to mother my kids in my absence or when I am about to lose it. One time, a friend was able to finally get the reason why my child kept clinging to me and crying when we were at church. It was a behavior that developed out of thin air and it was driving me insane. Sometimes, I need someone else to talk to them in a way that I can’t and she was able to gently find out what was going on and we were able to fix it quickly. My method wasn’t working at all and making the behavior worse. It did make me feel a bit guilty at the time since couldn’t get to the root of the problem but at the same time, I was grateful that my daughter had another person to go to when she needed help or assurance.

          • Bugsy

            Exactly this. We’re in the process of buying a house right around the corner from our townhouse. My 5-year-old has been acting out a lot recently, and it was after a friend baby-sat him last week that she pulled me aside and said “I think it’s the move that’s triggering his anxieties, causing him to act out.” I had a heart-to-heart with him that very day, and it’s been like night and day ever since. I am so thankful for the village around me helping me to raise both of my boys.

      • Cat

        A weekly break sounds like an excellent idea for both of you, so don’t feel guilty!

        My two-year old seriously wouldn’t tolerate my 24/7 presence. She’s reached the stage where she likes to walk a few paces apart from me in safe public spaces and, when I took her to her noisy toddler music group, she insisted on sitting on the other side of the circle to me (and then grinned at me wickedly the whole way through). I actually find this the most exciting phase of parenting so far – I love that she’s experimenting with independence, safe in the knowledge that I’ll still be there when she decides that she doesn’t want to be a grown-up anymore.

    • Allie

      Eek! Parachute in and suggest what worked for me when I was DONE having my body used as a human dummy. She finally started sleeping through the night after waking every 2 hours on the dot from 5.5 months to almost 22 months. At that point, I knew I had to do something. She wanted “mum mum” every time she saw me and I just couldn’t do it any longer. Our relationship was practically co-dependent (in a dysfunctional way). So, I applied a combination of garlic oil and lemon juice to my nipples. She only tasted it once and smelled it the rest of the week and she never nursed again. She ran around yelling “yucky, yucky, yucky” for a few weeks, and that was it. I never looked back and was happy with the decision, although there was one heartbreaking incident about a month later – she’d had a bad day, and hurt herself, and cried “I want yucky!” That was hard, but I was glad to be done. Moms have a right to our bodies, and she is absolutely fine. I refuse to believe that using my nipples as a pacifier is “essential for toddler development.”

      • Melaniexxxx

        really, learning to cope without you in instances such as small hurts or bad days is ACTUALLY essential for child development

  • Megan

    I think it’s economic and political. The family practice residents I teach, millenial age, usually say they don’t want kids because they can’t afford them and that they “don’t want to bring kids into this messed up world.” Personally, I think income stagnation and wealth inequality has created this problem.

    Myself, I had children to add to my life, like CSN116, mentioned below, and it sounds like our parenting philosophy is similar. I understand where people who don’t want kids are coming from though. Kids are expensive and right now wages are stagnant. Many millenials (and those of us in GenX) are saddled with huge student debt. Adding a child to the mix is scary.

    • CSN0116

      I’ve taken a big risk, enrolling in the Public Service Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Program. So far it’s paying off. I purposefully went to work at a private university that qualifies for NFP status and turned down offers at public institutions. I then consolidated all my school debt (90% of it was federal), file married separate on my taxes so that only my income can be considered but all of my kids factor into the equation, go income-based repayment, make bare minimum payments, and I’m halfway through the payback period. If all goes as planned, I will truck through the next 50% of my payments, obey the program’s rules, and have almost all of my debt forgiven, because I have been intentionally contributing so little to the outstanding balance.

      My institution also gives free college tuition to me and my immediate family, including my children, both at it and about 100 other colleges and universities with which it collaborates. The kids have to get in on their own merit, but then it’s a free-ride. I stand to save about $750,000 to $1,000,000 in college tuition for them, depending on where they go – which is an amount of money we could have never saved in 18 years.

      I’m rolling the dice, but I have my whole life 😉

      • Megan

        I’ve often joked with my husband that we’d be better off financially if he became a janitor at our local university when our kids become high school aged rather than staying at his current job just to get the tuition benefits. (Not knocking on janitors here.). I get a very (very) small discount at another university affiliated with our program but now that it would be taxed as income, it wouldn’t even be worth it. I’ll probably die before I pay off my student loans. Only good news is that they die with me.

        • seenthelight

          Do they? I thought student loans were the rate type of debt that outlives a person 🙁

          • kilda

            federal student loans are forgiven upon your death; your estate and your surviving spouse are not liable for them. This is why you should never consolidate your student loans together with your spouse’s – in that case the suriviving spouse is liable. Private student loans probably do outlive you.

      • kilda

        just a heads up – when the time period is over and the debt is forgiven, the IRS will issue you a form counting that forgiven debt as “income” and you are taxed on it. There are ways around it, in some situations, but it can be a nasty surprise.

        • CSN0116

          Yes, I’m aware! Thank you though, many are not.

    • Megan

      I’ll just add that the new reality is that most young adults/families are faced with saving for retirement, paying off student debt and saving for any children’s college simultaneously. That is hard to juggle. There are not many good paying jobs with pensions these days and student loans are basically required for many. (Never mind the cost of caring for aging parents on top of this.)

      • demodocus

        The one advantage of one’s parents dying young. sigh

        • Megan

          That sucks. I’m sorry.

          • demodocus

            Thanks. It’s bitter-sweet; Mom’s life insurance paid for the IVF and the 3 years’ worth of deep-freeze for the extra embryos. We couldn’t have afforded it otherwise. Dad died when I was expecting my younger child.

    • mostlyclueless

      Yes, I strongly agree with this. I’m deeply concerned about how my children will navigate the economic inequality that seems to define this generation in America. Will they be part of the lucky minority who can afford a college education, comfortable home, retirement savings, and health care?

      How did we get to a place where that list sounds tantamount to asking for a unicorn and a winning lotto ticket?

      • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

        How did we get here?

        short answer: teabagging libertarian baby boomers who enjoyed all the benefits of excellent social safety net but don’t want to pay taxes.

    • FormerPhysicist

      Yep. But also financial and cultural. This SAHM just says “solid plan” when my girl announces she’s never having children. Husband is horrified when she says that.

  • CSN0116

    My family represents a unique exception to this trend. I had twins at 22 and started grad school when they were five-months-old. I had baby #3 while in grad school. I was pregnant with baby #4 when I defended my dissertation and started my tenure-track assistant professor job. I had baby #5 about two years into that job. Five babies from age 22 to 28, middle-class, doctoral educated, full-time student and/or employee the whole time.

    Here’s what’s up for my husband and I, and it fits Dr. Amy’s thesis perfectly:

    1. We were having children to add to our lives, not to run them, or even substantially alter them. The children were only ever seen as an addition and we stuck to that, keeping each other guilt-free while doing it. We pursued, dreamed, and achieved while establishing our family. Big for us was never co-sleeping (we never even shared a room with our babies), strict bedtimes and structure, and fussing it out and crying it out if/when needed.

    2. We don’t feel bad about saying no. There are things we can’t give our children and there are things we could but choose not to. We never cared about the “best,” because we both understood how subjective that is. We give them what is proven to matter (access to health care, a safe neighborhood, good schools, a stable marriage, etc.), and the rest gets discussed between us. A lot of stuff is vetoed.

    3. We rely heavily on our families for support and guidance as parents, not books or the internet. And we have passed up bigger gigs that would take us away from them. Neither of us come from stellar parents, but we could still appreciate how these people, overall, knew what to do and how to do it. Anything big was deferred to our kids’ doctor, but nearly everything else came through family and what we felt was right.

    4. We make parenting easy (as easy as it can be). No breastfeeding for me (I never wanted to), disposable diapers, store-bought foods, one extracurricular per child per season, etc. Anything else was never even considered. Why complicate the uncomplicated? We never wanted to.

    We are happy. We were never sleep deprived. Occasionally overwhelmed, mostly due to the number of kids we have. We’re not broke. We’re still a married couple. We get joy from our children and have nothing to prove. We parent like we “don’t give a fuck” and it’s awesome. It has benefited us and the children greatly. No regrets.

    • mostlyclueless

      “We were never sleep deprived.”

      Pardon me while I quietly die of jealousy.

      Respectfully,
      Internet Commenter Who Hasn’t Slept in Almost 2 Years

      • CSN0116

        LOL! Dude, it’s no joke that EFF babies sleep longer. My full-term newborns only woke once a night from birth and slept 12 hours by 6-9 weeks of age, even the reflux kid. My pre-term twins woke twice a night but were also STTN by 8-10 weeks. We have hardcore nap and bedtime routines and it just… works.

        I hope you sleep soon! Sleep deprivation, which I’ve incurred at other points in my life for other reasons, SUCKSSSSS.

        • Megan

          Sadly, that has not been my experience with my FF children. I haven’t slept in 4 years.

          • CSN0116

            🙁

          • Roadstergal

            Upvoting for sympathy. 🙁

          • Megan

            On the bright side, I now really feel grateful for a 4-5 hour stretch of sleep and when I am sleep deprived I don’t have the energy to be too uptight and anxious as a parent. Silver lining.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            When our first was born, after the first month, my wife and I agreed, if we could just get 2 hours of sleep in a row, life would be so much better.

        • demodocus

          my bf’d kid and my ff’d kid both started sleeping through the night by 2 months old. I definitely appreciated that unearned privilege. Depression induced insomnia is troublesome enough.

          • Mimc

            I’ve just started sleeping properly last week after 3 months of PPD induced insomnia. My baby slept great but I couldn’t. The combination of anti-depressants and meditation seems to be working.

        • AnnaPDE

          Somewhat kid dependent unfortunately.
          Mr Combo Fed could down 150ml for going to sleep, then semi-wake for another 100ml not quite an hour after that, and still wake for 2 full sized bottles during the rest of the 10-11 hour sleep.
          Sure, lack of routine and proper feeding are things that mess sleep up, but some kids are just working at a too high turnover rate for their max buffer capacity to last a whole night.

      • demodocus

        *hugs*

      • Quende

        I feel your pain. Chronic sleep deprivation has driven me into something that I now, in hindsight, recognize as probably an episode of postpartum depression. My son was almost exclusively formula fed, slept in his crib in his own room, had a regular sleep routine, etc. etc., but from 6 months he stared having wild dreams and kept waking up five or more times per night, no matter what we did. It lasted “only” for half a year, but it took me about three more months to fully recover from that. I can’t imagine living like this for two years. I hope your sleep gets better soon!

        • mostlyclueless

          Thanks, I’m embarrassed to admit the situation improved considerably when I let Mr. Almost 2yo start having bottles at night again. After 6 months of screaming at every bedtime and in the middle of the night I was desperate, and now he sits up, asks for milk, and then goes back to sleep. I have read all the blogs, and know I am setting him up for a lifetime of poor dental hygiene, poor sleep hygiene, and probably obesity, but it is literally the only thing that works.

          I think maybe the hardest part of having a bad sleeper is all the parents of normal sleepers, who are like, “oh, did you try blackout curtains?” or “hmm my kids sleep well because I have a consistent routine, hint hint” FUCK. YOUR. SELVES.

          • Quende

            Well, you do what you have to do. Sometimes it really becomes a simple matter of survival 🙂 My nephew also had his midnight bottle of milk well into toddlerhood and I’m relieved to report that he seems to have escaped any and all of the dire consequences you’ve listed (he’s in his twenties now). My sister kept recommending this strategy to me and seemed unable to grasp the fact that we’ve tried it, of course we did, but it. just. did. not. work. 😀 I try to be sympathetic to clueless people who want to help, but oh boy, can it be exasperating.

            The blackout curtains work well for us now, when the kid is almost two, but the previous summer he still kept waking up at the crack of dawn. Like a hen in a henhouse, he just knew the sun was up outside – and so was he.

          • Allie

            I don’t buy the dental hygiene, sleep hygiene and obesity BS. The reality is that stuff is mostly genetic. Do the best you can and, indeed, feel free to flip the bird at all the self-satisfied people who lucked out on the sleep genes.

  • Clarene Wong

    I’m pretty sure it’s because fewer people can afford children. The cost of housing alone has caused a crisis in most large cities, where the majority of people live.

  • Nick Sanders

    Semi-OT: This came up in my Facebook feed recently. I’m not quite a fan of the way the article is written, but I tend to like my news a bit drier and more clinical than the average person. I am, however, a fan of what this young lady is doing.
    https://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2018/05/for_a_19-year-old_campaign_man.html

  • Pamela Carson

    I went to the Goldfarb Breastfeeding Clinic where Dobrich works for supply problems and my baby’s lip tie. The doctors I saw were fine, but the LC was simply awful. I was in tears at every appointment, clearly suffering from depression and a huge lack of confidence in being a new mom. To assert her superiority she told me to forget all the techniques I was taught and had been practicing – to get rid of the breastfeeding pillow “garbage” and use her “sitting up” feeding position instead. This was the first punch to my confidence as a new breastfeeding mom. She told me to breastfeed, formula feed then pump for 15 mins. every 2-3 hours. I tried to do this for several weeks but I was beyond exhausted and my supply never went up. When I’d return for follow-ups she’d basically tell me to breastfeed harder (“Keep her on the breast for up to an hour”) and pump throughout the night. I struggled with pumping after feeding because my baby didn’t want to be put down and she would cry the whole time when I was pumping. But to this LC it was more important that I pump than comfort my baby. For a while I blamed myself for my supply problems – if I had only been able to follow the strict regimen I would have been able to exclusively breastfeed, but now I’m angry that I listened to that nonsense and spent so much time at the breast pump instead of with my baby.

  • There’s also the price tag of kids. Some of that plays into increased parental expectations–you need extracurriculars! And financing for a four-year undergraduate education, plus grad school! Other stuff–such as increased medical expenses–is difficult to avoid.

    • demodocus

      It’s pretty scary, what stuff costs. Everyone is telling me how my son needs to go to preschool in the fall, but we don’t quite qualify for reduced prices at the one preschool in town that has a sliding scale. Daycare is pretty scary too.

    • The Kids Aren’t AltRight

      In my experience, daycare is so overwhelmingly expensive that it dwarfs all other costs. The only thing more expensive would be for my husband or me to quit our job.

      • StephanieA

        Definitely. If we needed to pay for daycare, I might as well just not work because the cost would cancel out my income. My sister and her husband are struggling with this; they pay $1500 a month for one child in daycare, if they want more kids (which they do) daycare becomes more expensive than what her husband earns. He doesn’t want to be a stay at home dad but I’m not sure they have a choice.

        • The Kids Aren’t AltRight

          And if people are compelled to give up work to have kids, the cost is higher than just the lost wages while they stay home. There is always a risk that a person won’t be able to get their career back after staying at home and may be permanently in a dead end job. It makes raising kids a much more risky and costly proposition.

        • Kelly

          I have heard of people continuing to work even though their entire paycheck goes to daycare in order to keep up their career. It only works if you can afford to live on essentially one income for everything else though.

      • MaineJen

        My kids went to a home daycare for this reason. It was just too expensive to send them to a regular daycare or preschool. “But Jen, don’t you know how dangerous that is???” Look. Even with a ‘good’ job you’ll barely afford daycare. And what do you get for your money? People getting paid minimum wage or close to it for a job so demanding I wouldn’t dare try it myself. And don’t even think about trying to put a second kid in there. You’ll price yourself right out of the workforce.

        • The Kids Aren’t AltRight

          Yep. Daycare is the number one reason there will probably never be a baby’s not alt right number 2.

        • So there we have both unavoidable costs–you need childminding of some sort, whether provided by you or another–and social pressures contributing to increased costs. “A home daycare, oh noes! Do you even care about your kid?”

        • AnnaPDE

          What’s wrong with home day cares? They’re seen as the more kid-friendly option in some countries.

          • MaineJen

            Nothing IMO…but here, they’re seen as less safe for some reason. Probably because they don’t always have that magical state license rubber-stamp. Ours worked out great, it was a good fit, close to my work and my kids were cared for very lovingly! And word of mouth from me means that our provider now cares for the children of 3 of my colleagues. Every time I mentioned it to my boss, though, it was all “Oh but I always wanted my kids in a center, at least they’re licensed!” You know, that subtle snobbery you can only feel from a 6 digit income married to a doctor who regularly pays off $3000 credit card bills in full and gets a new car every 2 years.

            Not that I’m bitter.

          • Mimc

            The one’s I went to as a kid just left infants in their carseats most of the day. That’s part of why I didn’t consider them for my baby. Plus around here they are about the same price as the centers.

    • Gene

      Agreed. It’s a status symbol of wealth in some circles to have more kids than average. Middles class families may have one or two, but richer families will have 3-5. It’s almost an upside down bell curve. The richest and the poorest have the most kids and the middle has the fewest.

  • Dell

    There is also this huge thing I’ve noticed about how negative a lot of people and articles talk about mothering. Don’t you know, when you have kids your life is over, your marriage will fall apart, you have less happiness than childless adults? You’ll never sleep again, you’ll never have a spare moment, your body is ruined, you’ll be poor and never have anything interesting to add to conversations not about diapers!

    This I’m sure is directly a push back against all the attachment parenting lifestyles. But it scares people, it scares women who want kids. No one ever talks anymore about the joy of kids. Seeing them grow and learn, watching them play and laugh and surprise you over and over again.

    I love being a mother, but no one should look surprised when I tell them that.

    • WonderWoman

      Yes, it’s all true (I mean, the fact that mothering is seen now in a negative way … and actually all those negative things are also true – I find being a mother bitter-sweet for that reason). I would also add that nowadays there are so many things you just don’t want to miss on in your life and having children is seen as an obstacle. So many films to see, concerts to attend, sports to try, etc. Women (and men, too) want to have it all and children can seriously limit your freedom to do what you want to do – and your financial resources. So even if a couple (who wants it all) decides to have a child at all, it’s often going to be an only child.

    • mostlyclueless

      I hated those articles after I had my first. I really did not understand why people acted like parenting is so hard and I thought they were either incompetent or just being dramatic.

      But having 2 kids was 1.5 too many for me. I am exhausted, overwhelmed, and constantly failing someone or something. All the articles about how hard it is make sense to me now.

    • Madtowngirl

      I think this definitely doesn’t help. Honestly, I can’t read those types of posts anymore, now that I have a surprise pregnancy. I’m already terrified of redoing the newborn stage, and seeing such a bleak picture painted for my future is too much right now. I know it’s going to be hard. But it’s this combination of society expecting you to be “mom and no one else” and my first being very difficult that’s bringing way more dread than excitement.

      But yes, I also think these sorts of posts are rooted in a pushback to attachment parenting.

    • Mel

      That’s how I felt about my son’s infant experience. His medical needs made caring for him more complicated and draining than the average newborn – but I was surprised how relatively manageable life was when I was completely sleep deprived. I always worried that chronic sleep deprivation would make me miserable – but honestly, it just made me rather chill.

      I liked him as a small infant and I enjoy him more and more as he gets more “difficult” (e.g., screams when he realizes that I won’t let him play with the remote; unfolds scads of laundry in a few moments; coats himself in layers of tomato sauce when I give himself some pizza; believes I should be able to diaper him while he’s on his side wrapped around a toy….) because now when he cuddles into me or laughs when I come to get him out of his crib or pats my arm at church I know he likes and loves me too.

    • Jessica

      There is a crazy mix of unreasonable expectations all around. For instance, we are told that we will bond instantly with our adorable newborns but also that the sleep deprivation will kill you. That our children need us every second but also that you will go crazy from never being alone. The reality is that if moms had some reasonable breaks from their kids, it wouldn’t have to be miserable. My husband and I have shared this past maternity leave (with my daughter I was just home for four months, with my son we have split the time), and thus makes a huge difference.

      • Megan

        It’s the whole mother-martyrdom thing. You’re supposed to want to kill yourself mothering so you can brag about it.

  • Sarah

    That photo always makes me want chips, dammit.

    In terms of the drops, personally I think it might be a financial thing.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      There is absolutely an economy aspect of it.

    • Anna

      Any picture of chips makes me want chips!!! Even when theyre being compared to poison or child abuse! When I watched Super Size Me I was just thinking, hmm what time is Maccas open till.

  • Madtowngirl

    Ugh, this all rings so true. I think it’s wonderful that we live in an age where women can choose not to be mothers if they don’t want to be. But I know women who wanted to be mothers but have felt that intense pressure to choose between a career and kids, and the career won. It’s their decision to make, but I know a couple are unhappy that they had to make the choice.

    I also find it humorous that some of the Nature worship people I’ve encountered are vocally against religion. Hey, if you don’t want to be religious, that’s 100% fine with me, but then perhaps you may want to examine your cult-like nature worship.

    • PeggySue

      Or your devotion to dietary ideals, or your devotion to perfecting your body, or to exercise, or… I have often thought that running clubs make good alternatives to church. Goals, fellowship, rituals, high holidays, it’s all there. And most of the big races in my town are run on Sundays!