Johanna Stein

Johanna Stein


Sometimes I write about being a mom.
Sometimes I write about being a 14-year-old boy trapped in the body of a mom.

The Reich Way

For the longest time I was not ready to have kids. I was on the pill, used a diaphragm, and would have my husband triple bag it on our bi-annual lovemaking occasions. And then one day we realized we’d been wasting valuable time when we could have been declaring a decent deduction on our taxes sharing our love with another being.

There’s nothing like the arrival of your first child. The creation of “family”, the shared sense of purpose, the built-in excuse generator:

“Sorry I can’t make it, the sitter cancelled”…
“Can’t talk right now, the baby’s about to fall out the window”…
“What smell? Must be the baby, I think she had burritos for lunch”.

But I was not prepared for the Club of Motherhood. Evidently shooting a wad of humanity out of your hoo-ha renders you fair game to the criticism of other mothers, mothers who are doing it better than you.

”Supermommies” (or “Über-mutti” as they are known in Germany, “Madre Estupenda” in Spain, and “BesteMoeder” in Holland) are militant about raising kids the right way, and if you don’t heed their warnings, a horrible fate awaits you. Have you ever been shunned by the Amish? Trust me, it’s worse. Consequences can include finger wagging, loud public reprimands of “you’re not really going to let your child (fill in the blank), are you?!”, disapproving stares from shark-like eyes, and threats to call 911.

Supermommies can be recognized by the mark of the beast (666) on their scalps. However, if you are unable to shave one, here are some other identifiers:

1. THEY have perfect pregnancies and natural deliveries and love to describe them in real time, saying things like, “the contractions felt like an exquisite 12-hour orgasm”.

And by comparison, ME: I tried to have a natural childbirth, but after that first contraction hit me like a baseball bat to the face, I grabbed the needle, gave myself a double epidural and never looked back. (Also, I used my placenta to play a practical joke on a friend. True story.)

2. THEY push European-engineered strollers with exotic names (like Stokke, Bugaboo, and Zooper) that cost more than I am worth.

ME: Actually, I have a pretty fancy stroller. I kinda stole it. And ps, I am worth approximately $372, dead or alive.

3. THEY only buy baby products that are educational, recycled, organic, or handmade by endangered gibbons.

ME: I like my shopping like I like my men: cheap, easy and hairless. And shopping at Target gives me an exquisite 12-hour orgasm.

4. THEY use phrases like, “positive reinforcement”, “child-rearing philosophy” and “attachment parenting”.

ME: I use phrases like, “Hey, I kept the baby alive today. Score!”

5. THEY do meaningful things with their free time (“Free time? What the mother-effing eff?!”) like volunteering, writing books and curing rare diseases so that they can inspire their children to learn by example.

ME: I got nothing.*

As you can see, compared to the Supermommies, I don’t have my shit together. In fact, my shit is about as together as a bag of loose meat (which, coincidentally is what it looks like under my Spanx®… loose meat or melted candlewax, it really depends on the lighting). But just because I haven’t enrolled my daughter in Ballet classes taught in Mandarin… and no, she wasn’t potty trained by six months… and yes, I did just let her eat a moldy cupcake while watching eight minutes of “Scarface”… that doesn’t mean I’m doing it wrong. Not all the time, anyway.

Supermommies seem to think that they’ve discovered motherhood, when the reality is that motherhood – not prostitution – is the oldest profession in the world. And like prostitution, there are lots of ways to do it, and no-one can claim to know everything. (Except for Heid Fleiss, re: prostitution. I’m pretty sure she does know everything.)

Über-mutti, I’m not asking you to change your ways. All I’m asking for is a little more understanding, and a little less scrutiny. While I protect your right to be incredible, high-achieving parents, please respect my right to be a slovenly, unmotivated, and exceedingly average one. And screw the rules, because in a year they’re gonna change again anyway. Maybe by then it’ll be “cutting edge” to let kids put boogers in their hair and call it “mousse” (believe me: it’s not only environmental, it’s economical too).

* Actually, I do. I’m working on bringing female facial hair in style. So when you see Kate Hudson gracing the pages of InStyle with a “Fu Manchu”, you can say you saw it here first.