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Louise Sloan Headshot

My Sick New Fashion Accessory

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"Sick" is the new "rad"-- as in, "Girl, those new shoes are sick!" I love it as a slammin' new slang word, but it does introduce some confusion. For example, we can probably all agree that single moms and lesbian moms are, like, totally sick. But does that mean we think they're bitchin', or that they make us want to blow chunks?

Well, the readers of Babytalk magazine apparently haven't gotten the memo about lesbian chic (hello, 1993?), because their vote on this matter is, "blow chunks." Seems Babytalk senior editor Patty Onderko wrote a piece about her sleepless nights as the soon-to-be mom of twins. Classic baby magazine piece, right? And it was indeed that classic article in all respects. Except that instead of mentioning how all that tossing and turning was torturing her hapless husband, Onderko described how her wakefulness and whining was affecting Emily, her wife.

BabyTalk has reportedly been inundated with nasty letters as a result, including one from a woman who said she literally "threw up in [her] mouth" when she read the article, which includes such raw lesbian images as, "12:50 a.m.: Worry about how much damage I'm doing to my babies by sleeping on my back. Turn to my left side. My back is killing me, so I pull pillows back onto the bed and wedge one underneath my belly and another behind my back. It doesn't help at all." Shocking!

Now, Patty and Emily don't look like radicals ready to firebomb the American family--at least according to the photo introducing Onderko's blog. They're a cute, mainstream professional couple (Patty works for Babytalk, for crying out loud, not Bitch), with a stable home (they'd been together six years before conceiving) and two bouncing baby boys on the way, and Patty wrote totally relatable story about sleep deprivation--why the regurgitation? (Guess I better ask James Dobson.)

More importantly, where does this leave me? As a single lesbian mom, currently without a date for Valentines' Day, I wonder about the corollary to the old "if a tree falls in a forest" riddle. If a lesbian mom is left stranded, all alone with her child on a desert island, does she still make you want to spew?

I'll admit I've been thinking a lot about barf, lately. And fashion. Since it's Fashion Week 2008 here in New York, I can divulge the truth, which is that I decided to have a baby as a single mom because I wanted the latest (sickest!) fashion accessory.

OK, not really, but that's what I've been accused of by some of the folks outraged at the idea of my recent book, Knock Yourself Up, a cross between memoir and reporting that offers a glimpse into the growing trend of older, financially independent single women choosing to have children on their own. According to these critics, single moms like me and the nearly 50 women I interviewed are a bunch of consummately selfish, overprivileged brats who are thoughtlessly pushing out babies because we want them as lifestyle accessories, like an espresso machine or a designer handbag.

Well, it's true that I get positive attention for myself when I have my cute baby in tow, and I'll admit I've occasionally coordinated outfits (as the upchuck-inspiring Onderko seems to have done in the photo illustrating her Babytalk article, which pictures her holding the twins: note the matching stripes and color scheme--sinister!). But I was considering that "accessory" charge recently when my 19-month-old son, Scott, threw up on me in the middle of the night (again). Folks, ain't nothing made by Prada that's gonna puke on you. I thought about it more two nights later, hugging the toilet at 2 a.m., retching my guts out while Scott--a couple years away from developing empathy--screamed his little lungs out, his mouth two inches from my ear. Yeah, we're talking glamour, here. High freaking style. And as a male friend of mind pointed out, "you don't have to send designer shoes to college."

This baby-as-fashion-accessory charge is also leveled at a lot of Hollywood moms these days, especially the ones (like Jessica Alba and Nicole Ritchie) who don't marry the dads. I can't claim to know their motivations, but I do know they can't win for losing, on this one. I'm guessing those two pregnancies were accidental, in which case, in this socio-economic bracket, abortion's the more common way to handle it--wouldn't that have been popular with their conservative critics! Then there's carrying the child and giving it up for adoption. Can you even imagine the accusations of selfishness that would be hurled at a rich celeb for giving up a child? Never mind the impossibility of keeping the child's identity private. But I digress.

If you leap deftly over the patrons of the many catalogs offering mother-daughter outfits (child-as-fashion-accessory alert!), and if you dodge the millions of parents who've had kids mainly because "it's what everyone does," you can get to a select group of people who do sometimes, in fact, have kids as lifestyle accessories. No, I am not talking single moms by choice. These accessory hounds are rich, straight, married couples, the kind who get their weddings featured in the New York Times "Vows" column and need the 2.5 kids and the golden retriever to complete their social resume. As with celeb single moms, these folks can afford to outsource almost all of the parenting by hiring a live-in nanny or two, plus supplementary babysitters, a cook, a housekeeper, a dog walker, and however many other staffers they need to keep the hands-on nurturing to a minimum.

Still, it's not so simple--I bet even star mommies and trophy wives get ralphed on, at least sometimes. And even if you're a couple of high-society kid-haters who've procreated for show, you're still the parents--the most important people in your children's lives. Regardless of their original childbearing motivations, I'll wager that this reality ends up inspiring even the most selfish to take a stab at being an adequate parent.

But back to barfing. Scott and I are feeling a lot better this week, thanks. To celebrate, he and I made a big batch of muffins the other night. I stole a glance at him as he stood on a sturdy kitchen chair, joyfully throwing fistfuls of chopped pecans into the batter. He looked so cute, his moss-green eyes matching the green-painted wooden chair, which also brought out the green dinosaurs and jungle leaves on his tiny animal-themed apron... Oops, I guess it is all about accessorizing. But frankly, ladies, if you don't have access to a good washing machine, you might want to go for the Jimmy Choos instead of the child.

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