In case you didn’t know, ABC is making a TV show based on my book, Notes from the Underbelly, and although the show doesn’t premiere until November, I’ve started doing a bit of PR for it already. Just yesterday, in fact, I did an interview for a new website called Savvymiss.com, which is officially geared towards women 18-35, but which, I think, is actually intended to appeal to the mid-twenties, fresh out of grad school, newly married/engaged/single-and-starting-to-panic female demographic. Which feels like another life time ago for me (remember when you thought it was so hard to balance your job and your wedding planning?), but that’s beside the point. The point, here, is that, though I’m grateful for the exposure, I went into the interview a bit puzzled as to why, exactly, the editors of this website chose to interview me – a mother who writes about motherhood and who has nothing but two toes left in their target age bracket (and we’re talking the pinky toe and the little piggy that stayed home) – instead of someone to whom their audience might relate a bit more, like, say, a childless woman who writes about the hellish experience of working at a top New York fashion magazine, for example.
My interviewer was smart and very nice (twenty seven, married, no kids), and before the interview started we chatted for a bit, and she told me that she’d read Notes from the Underbelly and had enjoyed it very much, and then she went on to tell me about some of her favorite parts, which was all great and flattering. And then we sat down, and I was still wondering what my books or the tv show could possibly have to do with the readers of Savvymiss.com, at which point my interviewer asked her first question. I won’t even attempt to quote her because her question was long and I’m sure I don’t remember it exactly, but it was something along the lines of, “I hate hate hate children, and I related so much to your main character, and if she’s based on you, and you hated kids so much, then why did you decide to have them, and how do you feel about kids now?”
Suddenly, I understood why Savvymiss.com readers might be interested in me. For the newly married, late twenties woman who thinks that having kids sounds icky, I am the Ghost of Christmas of Future. Motherhood represents everything that Savvymiss.com readers are afraid to become, and as the caustic author of books about how much pregnancy and new motherhood suck, I was there to give them hope that they don’t have to. As the questions rolled in, “do you still have your friends from before?” “Do you think that it’s possible to raise kids who won’t run around restaurants like maniacs and crawl under other peoples’ tables?” I felt an awesome sense of responsibility. Suddenly, it was my job to convince the cynical, Savvymiss readers that yes, motherhood might sound like an icky thing, and many, many parts of it are, but its okay, you can still do it and remain a savvy miss (though I prefer Ms., but that’s a generational thing). I’m just not sure that I did such a good job.
“What is it about mothers and the way they give each other knowing looks, like, if someone doesn’t have kids they can’t possibly understand?” she asked. Suffering, I told her. It’s about suffering. You may think that you know what it is to be sleep deprived, but unless you’ve had kids, or been in a Turkish prison where they drip water on your head all night, you don’t know, and it’s annoying when people who don’t know pretend that they do. “Do you think that anyone is ever ready to have kids?” she asked. No, I told her. No they’re not.
It was the last question, though, where I really blew it. “So, what are the pros to having children?” she wanted to know. Now, I’ll admit, I was caught off guard. Pros, pros, pros…I thought, trying to think of something clever. Well, trying to think of something at all. The cons were abundant, but after much stalling, I could only come up with a single pro. “It’s love,” I told her. “You love these little people like nobody else you’ve ever loved before. More than your parents, or your husband, or your dog, or your sister, you just love them so much that it’s overwhelming, and it’s amazing, and it makes everything else disappear. And I know it doesn’t sound like a real, tangible pro, but it is, and it cancels out all of the cons.”
And right there, it was over. I was exposed as a sap, and a sellout. The woman who wrote the venomous Notes from the Underbelly is really just another cheesy mom who used to be cool, but who now blathers on like an idiot about loving her kids so damn much that it hurts. Instead of persuading them that becoming a mother won’t automatically turn you into a loser, I’m sure I sent droves of Savvymiss.com readers running for tubal ligations. If the world fails to repopulate in the next ten years, you’ll know exactly who to blame.