Mama manifesto

As my pregnancy progresses, as we near that powerfully magical 28-week mark when most (most) babies survive their birth, I slowly edge closer to believing we’ll soon have a child — a real live baby — in our arms and in our home.

I am bonding in my own twisted way. When the baby is kicking in an especially energetic manner, I sometimes urge Paul to put his hand against my abdomen so that he can feel it, too. Invariably, the kicking screeches to abrupt halt and Paul feels nothing. Either the baby is calmed by the pressure of Paul’s hand, or he’s fucking with us both. I hope it is the latter. That’s what I mean by twisted.

I don’t talk to the baby, not out loud. I figure if there’s such a thing as telepathy, there is no more direct route than that between my brain and my baby’s, via the cutting-edge fiber optic technology of my spinal column. So instead of talking I think to the baby.

I have begun making promises.

As foolish as it may be to attempt to cut deals with a creature who’s still more gill than lung, I like to think we have an understanding. Here are some of the things I say:
I will not feed you Lunchables, as I believe it is unhealthy at worst and ill-mannered at best to eat sliced dead people. I may, at my sole discretion, cut funny shapes out of real food to encourage nourishment and delight, but then I already do that anyway.

I will be secretly amused when you call your seventh-grade math teacher a bitch, but you are gonna be so grounded for that.

Mostly I’ll know when you’re lying.

I will always take your side but it might not always look that way.

I will dress you in ridiculous getups as long as I possibly can. Coming from a woman who is currently clad in Polarfleece overalls with rainbow-striped knee socks, this is a promise you can depend on.

You will think I’m a dork but your friends will think I’m cool. Trust me on this.

The haircut you like is okay with me, as long as it’s clean and out of your face. However, I cannot speak for your father.

I will turn an elaborately blind eye, much as my parents did, when you delve into Sidney Sheldon at age 10, as long as you have enough sense not to ask me what “fellatio” means. (Look, we have that OED for a reason, dig?)

I will buy funny Band-Aids.

I will try not to treat you as an experiment, no matter how adorable I think you’d look in a Skinner box. Any studies I do conduct will be performed before you are old enough to remember them. (Note to self: Test efficacy of Ministry’s “Stigmata” as lullaby sooner rather than later.)

I will not display any photo of you that showcases your full frontal nudity, no matter how gloriously proud I am of your elephantine genitalia.

Most of the time I’ll be laughing with you. Oh, sure, sometimes I’ll be laughing at you, but I will not make it obvious.

Yes, you may join the Girl Scouts. No, you may not join the Boy Scouts. I do not feel this is inconsistent, and I’ll be happy to tell you why.

I will mess with you. A lot. I will blow in your face to watch that bewildered squinty look that babies get when they feel that single surprising puff. When you cry, I will gently and rhythmically tap my hand over your mouth, so that you make that “bah-uhbah-uhbah-uhbahbahbahbahbah” noise, perhaps surprising you out of your wailing but at the very least entertaining myself enough to endure it.

I will try not to tell stories about you that embarrass you, but you have to let me know I’m doing it. Deal?

No, we will not get rid of the cat if he scratches you. Do you think it was a good idea to pull his tail? I wonder if you’ll do it again.

I will surely annoy you by singing made-up words to songs. I do it on purpose. If you can’t beat me — and on this, my dear, you cannot — I surely hope you’ll join me.

As an addendum to the above, I am well aware that I sound nothing like Joan Armatrading. I will sing along nevertheless. To any complaints, I shall say, “Hard cheese.”

I will hold your hand in public as long as you’ll allow it.

I will try to remember not to say no unless it matters.

I will try really fucking hard not to swear in front of you. Or at least not quite as much.

Okay, look. I know I’m supposed to pledge that I’ll protect this tiny creature born into our care. I’m supposed to give a solemn oath to help shape his young life into one of beauty and meaning. I’m supposed to vow to nurture and to encourage, to cherish and to love, unconditionally, without limit, beyond the bounds of reason.

But, jeez, I just said I would, didn’t I?
Posted by Julie at 04:44:00 PM in Jesus gay, I’m pregnant.

Comments (47)
1. ericalil said:

beautiful post!!! and hilarious! poor batman will be bewildered by your behavior for a while, but when old enough, will be really proud of his/her unconventional mama!

Posted 11/05/04 4:54 PM

2. Blue said:

Will you be my mother?
Posted 11/05/04 4:55 PM

3. Amy said:

Ahhh so great! What a wonderful mommy you are.

I see nothing wrong with Ministry, although last week my husband made me turn off AFI b/c he said it was “bad for my eggs.”

Posted 11/05/04 5:05 PM

4. Sandy said:

This is beautiful. Batman is a lucky lucky child. And personally, I liked striped socks and overalls!
Posted 11/05/04 5:07 PM

5. Mandy said:

Damn hormones, my eyes are leaking.

This kid is SO gonna love you.
Posted 11/05/04 5:26 PM

6. Cyn said:

Beautiful. A really lovely post Julie. I’m glad it’s starting to feel real for you finally. You deserve the very best, babe. Enjoy.

Love, Cyn
Posted 11/05/04 5:36 PM

7. Sandy said:

Beautiful list of promises Julie. That Batman is one lucky kid. Who needs to promise all that mushy protection and adoraton stuff – its apparent those are already there waiting for this kid by this post and all the others you leave here for us to read.

And for what its worth – BOTH of my children screwed with us when it came to kicking. If I was getting bruised from the inside out, I merely needed my husband or any other soul dying to feel a little kick to place a hand on my stomach. Instant motionless baby. EVERY TIME!!!!
Posted 11/05/04 5:39 PM

8. eve said:

could you please explain the lunchables thing? oh wait, on second thought… never mind. 🙂
Best wishes!!
Posted 11/05/04 5:39 PM

9. mopsy said:

Simply lovely.

I thought I was the only 10 year old who read “Rage of Angels”
Posted 11/05/04 5:49 PM

10. Moxie said:

Heh. For awhile, our babysitter was a PhD candidate in Developmental Psychology (you can imagine what kind of bitch queen status that got me on the playground, but it totally wasn’t like that). Anyway, she and I used to judge that if she ever published _El Chico, Light and Dark_ she’d have to give him a cut of the royalties.
Posted 11/05/04 5:49 PM

11. Brooklyn Girl said:

Will you adopt me? You’re going to be a wonderful mother.
Posted 11/05/04 5:53 PM

12. Jen said:

You are so going to kick ass as a mom–lucky Batman.

Re: the experiments. My dad’s a psychologist, and I don’t think he could resist performing a few at home (for educational purposes, of course, few of which I remember). Strangely enough, I think I was happier being the experiment than performing his weirdo research for my science fair projects.
Posted 11/05/04 5:58 PM

13. mollie said:

Nico can’t beat us, so he has joined us in making up words to songs.

There’s no better gift than a sense of humour, and you are one of the most gifted people I know. Shit, that kid of yours is a lucky dude or dudette already, even if she/he is “more gill than lung.” (LOVE that.)

Julie, I am breathless with adoration of you. I wish we could be doing this thing nearer to each other.
Posted 11/05/04 5:59 PM

14. cheryl b. said:
Posted 11/05/04 6:03 PM

15. wix said:

“stigmata” works pretty well as a lullaby. i also find that “beers, steers, and queers” and “physical” (the REAL version–not that shitty album cut revco put down after being thrashed by miss koala blue’s lawyers) are good. we like “beers, steers, and queers” with our breakfast around here.
Posted 11/05/04 6:05 PM

16. Amanda said:

I don’t know if that post was intended to move people to tears, but I’m sitting here in need of a kleenex. You are going to be a fantastic mother. That’s one lucky Batman.
Posted 11/05/04 6:10 PM

17. achromic said:

That was the best post of the day. Totally made this day a little bit brighter.
Posted 11/05/04 7:36 PM

18. Lori said:

The quote I used in my high school yearbook was from a Sidney Sheldon book. (Stranger in the Mirror, I think) It was…”If you seek to find yourself, look not in the mirror, for there is but a shadow, a stranger. ” (If my memory serves me, that is the way it went)

I love your post and I totally agree…you are going to be a great mama…no, you already are a great mama!
Posted 11/05/04 7:39 PM

19. Jen said:

I have to tell you a brief story … when we got our cat Charlotte, she was a tiny orange fluffball. Soon after we got a noisy hyper 7-year-old. You can imagine how they did not mesh. The kid doesn’t always learn the first time, just so you know.

He’s 11 now and that cat? STILL hates him. Every time he walks by she growls. Sometimes she sits in the doorway to his room and hisses. She will sit and stare at him until he’s quaking. He’s terrified of her. He has had to call us to remove her from the laundry room so that he can get clean underwear out of the dryer, because he won’t walk past her. So of course we’ve made it HIS job to feed the cats. Torturing your kids is not just a job, it’s an adventure!

Gorgeous post, Jules. Your kid will adore and worship you. When s/he is not completely embarassed by and overcome with hatred for you.
Posted 11/05/04 7:53 PM

20. Emily said:

bwahahahahahaha. Oh boy Julie, if he’s anything at all like you (and of course he will be), you so have your hands full. I look forward to reading all about it. 🙂
Posted 11/05/04 8:40 PM

21. atomic said:

I have not suffered with infertility. My brushes with it before I came across your site and those of your friends were just that. Brushes. But now. Now. You people have no idea how much you’ve taught me. And no idea how much I wish you all the best and whatever outcome you’re looking for.

Plus, I’m literally one week behind you, Julie. It warms my cold dead heart that you say the things you do. Becoming a parent does not mean you have to lose your sense of humor or sense of terror.

P.S. Picking the kid up from school in hot pink rollers. Even if you never use rollers. I mean, you’ve got to do it once, right?
Posted 11/05/04 9:03 PM

22. Kaela said:

I love this:

“Yes, you may join the Girl Scouts. No, you may not join the Boy Scouts. I do not feel this is inconsistent, and I’ll be happy to tell you why.”

You’ll be a great mom for a lot of reasons, but one takes the cake.
Posted 11/05/04 9:04 PM

23. Boulder said:

Even better, batman, your mom will be cool not only to your friends, but to the other cool moms.

And Julie, good fucking luck with the cussing thing. I’m pretty sure its why I’m fucking infertile, as no child should hear the shit coming out of my fucking mouth most of the day…..

Posted 11/05/04 9:20 PM

24. orenda said:

You are going to be a fanfuckingtastic mother.
That post gave me a smile I needed.
I have posted once or twice before, but never properly introduced myself, because I figured, this isn’t about me! Why should you care? But since barging in is rude: Hi. I’m Orenda. I don’t remember how I found your sight, but I’ve been terribly amused and touched by it and keep coming back. I’m not exactly infertile as I’m still in university and a long way from trying to get pregnant yet. I was informed though, when I was diagnosed with PCOS a few years ago, that I probably don’t ovulate, and will have a higher rate of miscarriage if I do manage to conceive. You’d think I should just be enjoying this time when infertility doesn’t rule my life and not thinking about it. To be honest, it wasn’t high on my mind when I first started reading here. Since then I’ve found it quite comforting to know that there is a group of women such as you and the Vagina Posse out there meeting these challenges with grace, wit and humour. I’m sure I won’t do nearly as well when the time comes, but it gives me hope I will survive it, even as my heart ahces for all your losses.
Thank you.

I sound like a total ass-kisser, don’t I?
Bah. I’m not in the mood to go looking for things to complain about or offer assvice on.
Posted 11/05/04 10:18 PM

25. AmyinMotown said:

What a lucky little non Boy Scout Batman is. You’re going to have so much fun in your house.

Also, my child utterly refused to kick for her poor father, until about 30 weeks when she seemed to be pushing out with her giant bony butt and attempting her escape that way. Now I swear they are conspiring against me.

And, one of the first things one of my more prim friends asked me was “Do you think you’ll stop swearing as much now that you’re having a baby?” It was all I could to to not answer “Fuck, no.”
Posted 11/05/04 11:32 PM

26. Sara in MD said:

Must be the damned hormones, but I’m feeling all gushy after reading your manifesto to Batman.
“I will try to remember not to say no unless it matters.” really spoke to me.

Just found out we are pregnant after trying for SO FUCKING LONG – and have been reading you for a long time. Thanks for being there, even if you didn’t know it.

All three of you are in my thoughts.
Posted 11/06/04 10:22 AM

27. Danae said:

I adore you. Batman is one hell of a lucky kid.
Posted 11/06/04 10:36 AM

28. Tessa said:

That was beautiful Julie. Truly.

You’ll find yourself making all sorts of promises after Batman is here, as well. More like bribes, actually. I recently promised that I would buy her a CAR, any car she wanted, if she would just stop crying for five minutes.
Posted 11/06/04 12:29 PM

29. Jan said:

That was really sweet. Um, I seem to be alone in not knowing why girl scouts = okay, boy scouts = not okay. I don’t really know what the two entail, but now I’m curious. What’s the difference?
Posted 11/06/04 3:13 PM

30. army wife said:

that “bah-uhbah-uhbah-uhbahbahbahbahbah” noise is what we did when our son was little and would get upset in public. After a few months (and him eventually being able to control his own hands) he started doing it to himself whenever he was upset. He is now almost 2.5 yo and still does it to this day. Other people think he is happy and only *we* know the truth! LOL
Posted 11/06/04 4:09 PM

31. Julie said:

Jan, Boy Scouts have the ‘phobe thing going on. Girl Scouts don’t. Simple as that.
Posted 11/06/04 5:24 PM

32. Brenda said:

Goodonya! And good on Batman, too.

(Secret member of the Barren Bitches Brigade)
((Not so secret anymore))
Posted 11/06/04 6:05 PM

33. Orenda said:

But Girl Scouts are all about the gender segregation, whereas Boy Scouts allow female leaders and members. I have my problems with both. I was a Girl Guide, but I quit the week my father was taking his scouts winter camping and dropped me off at my meeting. Fathers were most definitely not welcome and barely tolerated during the time it took to drop off and pick up their daughters. I was already disgruntled about not getting to go on the camping trip. My guide troop went once a year, in summer, to an insulated cabin with bunk beds, electricity, sofas, running water and a flush toilet. Yeah.
Anyway, the final straw came when I learned that night’s activity. We were doing plastic canvas needlepoint santas. And they’d already done the faces for us, because they thought it would be too hard
Posted 11/06/04 10:04 PM

34. Julie said:

Ah, but despite what you might expect, I’m not necessarily opposed to gender segregation for some activities. And I am all in favor of electricity and indoor plumbing. So there you go!
Posted 11/07/04 12:15 AM

35. Laura said:

Can you adopt me?
Posted 11/07/04 12:36 PM

36. Carrie Jo said:

Oh my that was so much fun to read, the post itself, the comments. I heart you Julie. You are so cool. I wanna be just like you. :o)
Posted 11/07/04 3:30 PM

37. CursingMama said:

Looks like you’re all set! I loved the list, and warn you that eventually that “no swearing” in front of the kid thing eventually is overridden by the bad driver in front of you when you’re in a hurry.
Posted 11/08/04 8:56 AM

38. Kel said:

Great post. Its not just singing the wrong words, you gotta mess up with reading when its the 150th time through Goodnight Moon and he isn’t really listening, he’s just trying to postpone the lights going out. “Goodnight chairs and goodnight…hairs…” either gets me that wonderful toddler giggle of glee or the know it all correction of, “No, Moommmmy. Its bears…”

But that song thing can back fire on you. We’ve been listening to a Disney collection that has “Oh, How I Love to go Camping” and he thinks the songs says “Campy” and is so mad when I sing it correctly and he thinks I’m just messing with him.

You are going to rock as a parent.

Posted 11/08/04 12:46 PM

39. Amnesia said:

You have such a way with words. The sarcasm is always funny, but I love the deep, heartfelt entries too. This one is a classic.
Posted 11/08/04 9:45 PM

40. Melizzard said:

Great list! but I worry that you’ve just doomed yourself to a child that will, somewhere around the age of 2, go on a Lunchables hunger strike. They have a way of showing you who’s really in control that way.
Posted 11/09/04 5:12 PM

41. Elizabeth said:

Batman! You won the mommy lottery!

(this list SO rocks)
Posted 11/10/04 10:31 AM

42. anon said:

Oh, we are way past the survivability point, sistah!

21 weeks or less: 0% survival rate
22 weeks: 0–10% survival rate
23 weeks: 10–35% survival rate
24 weeks: 40–70% survival rate
25 weeks: 50–80% survival rate
26 weeks: 80–90% survival rate
27 weeks: greater than 90% survival rate

Hee! I actually got my husband to feel a really strong baby kick the other day. He said it was horribly creepy and threatened to rent all the Alien dvds if I ever asked him to put his hand on my belly again.
Posted 11/11/04 1:26 PM

43. persimmon said:

Julie, I feel it is vitally important that you at least consider inflicting the following behaviours upon your offspring:

-singing the words from one song (esp. Christmas carols) to the melody of another.

-pronouncing ALL the letters in a word. Spray-add that butter on the to-ast with a kuh-nee-fay.

-at least TASTING the baby before you go drenching him in salt, jeez.
Posted 11/11/04 6:19 PM

44. Ann D said:

Another Julie classic! 🙂
Posted 11/12/04 3:26 PM

45. Anony Mouse said:

This was staggeringly beautiful, and the kind of stepmother I try to be. Sometimes, I even believe the kids trust me to do all these things.
Posted 02/09/05 12:33 PM

46. Chip said:

You’ve never had kids before? Your list is so amazingly on target that it’s scary. And I say that as a dad of a 14 year old daughter and 11 year old son… Maybe in a previous life you’ve had teenagers?

As for the hearing the baby, forget about dad putting his hand on your belly, have him put his ear to your belly. He’ll hear everything, all kinds of wonderful movement.
Posted 02/26/05 11:04 PM

47. Lainey said:

Hm. I just realized that my boyfriend hasn’t sung in a long time. Tone deaf though he may be, I still miss his made-up lyrics of unabashed immaturity.

Excellent manifesto. I’m pretty sure that’s secretly what all new moms are thinking to themselves.