Sure, I get to leave the dishes in the sink and the dirty laundry in the hamper today. And it's great that "some people" (you know who you are!) are going to make me dinner tonight, but on the tenth anniversary of being able to celebrate Mother's Day as a mother myself, I've been thinking of some things about babies and children and motherhood for which I am eternally grateful:
1. The Pill. It's the 50th anniversary of this amazing medical feat and, in many ways, my life as it is today is a direct result of that miracle. Yes, I think The Pill was a miracle. For me, it wasn't about being a wild teen or crazy college co-ed who was sowing wild oats and didn't want to be bothered with responsibility. Ask anyone who knew me in my teen years and they would roll on the floor laughing (their A's off) at the thought that my name would be used in a sentence with either the word "wild" or "crazy." Unless I was talking about Steve Martin. But I digress.
The word "dating" didn't get a lot of use when it came to describing my life then, either. But I did start dating in college and, though I don't know how I'm ever going to explain this to PunditGirl, I got married the first time when I was 19. Not a good choice for many reasons. But I am thankful every day that in that short, two-year marriage I did not get pregnant. If I'd had a baby at that point in my life, I can only imagine how much harder it would have been to get out of a truly bad situation and what that would have meant for my life -- and my child's life going forward.
2. Roe v. Wade. I came of age in the era just after the Supreme Court ruled that women had a Constitutional right to have an abortion. Don't think that I wasn't also grateful for that knowledge every day during my first marriage, even when I was on The Pill, that if I had still gotten pregnant (hey, no birth control works 100 percent of the time), that I had the right not to bring a child into the world when I was in the midst of an abusive relationship. Today, as a woman of a certain age (as I was called recently on Twitter!) looking back, I'm not sure if I ever would have exercised my right to end a pregnancy, but I certainly felt much more in control of my destiny knowing that I had that right.
3. The Women of Newsweek (and so many like them). When some brave, young women filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against Newsweek for not allowing women to be reporters, I was an impressionable 12-year-old (not so much older than PunditGirl is now. YIKES!) I was reminded about their brave act recently when I was asked to moderate a panel with some current Newsweek journalists who wrote about that lawsuit. Without those "women's libbers" forging the way for me while I was still pondering pre-algebra and just how long I was going to have to wear those darn braces (trust me, they weren't the fashion statement then as they are today), my ability to major in political science and dream of taking over Tom Brokaw's job one day wouldn't even have been on the table. While not directly related to motherhood, their desire for professional lives and their commitment to fight for that was all the proof I needed that it was okay to think about motherhood later. Which was a very good thing for me.
4. Women online. My sisters on Twitter, Facebook, personal blogs and group blogs were there for me after I became what CNN recently called an "older mother." Being in the 'burbs with a baby, I felt pretty alone. I'd been in the workplace for over 20 years as a reporter then as a lawyer before I became PunditGirl's mom. Most of the women I knew were still in the office 60 hours a week. I found myself without a job shortly after we returned from China with our new daughter and I didn't know any other moms of young children. And I was woefully unschooled then in the ways of play groups and Gymboree. When I started my mom journey, I was unprepared for a lot of things and there were plenty of times when I wished that there was a Xanax in the house, especially when our three-year-old screamed with night terrors and I was afraid someone would hear her and call the police, thinking that only a child who was being beaten could make noises like that.
Thank goodness for the wonderful, amazing women I've met online who became my lifeline. All of a sudden, just by reading their stories, I knew I wasn't the only one. And then I met some. And then I met some more. And they became my friends and they helped me in many ways. (I purposely left out site links to my amazing sisters in social media because inevitably I would have forgotten someone and would not want to hurt anyone's feelings, especially on Mother's Day).
Aside from being grateful for these things, I will continue to fight to keep access to effective birth control, abortion and equal pay for equal work so that one ten-year-old girl I know won't have to worry about them quite as much as I did. I'm hoping she'll find her own way in the world of women and friendship!
5. And, of course, last, but not least, I'm grateful for "some people."
Because Without them, well, I can't even imagine that life.
Photo by PunditMom, all rights reserved
Joanne Bamberger, aka PunditMom, is an author and political analyst living in the shadow of the nation's capitol. Her book about political motherhood in the age of social media wil be published this fall by Bright Sky Press.