This is an actual excerpt transcribed verbatim from my 4th grade diary, dated January 13, 2004:
My babysitter Andren is having a baby. It will be a sweet baby girl.
I am happy that it is a girl because then I can finally get a “sister.” All day I am stuck with two little brothers and sometimes I get bored. So I Always want a girl that I can play with, fix their hair, etc.
Andren wants to name her baby girl Cortney, Raquel, or Madison. I told her that I don’t like Cortney but whatever she wants.
At this point in time, my youngest brother, Eli, was three. Eli and I had already been estranged from each other for two years, as he became extremely misogynistic at age 1. He also had just a tinge of an Oedipal complex, as the only woman he’d speak to was my mother. It was fine. We started speaking again when he was five.
Eli would be the third and final addition to our family. When he was born, I was six-and-a-half, and Jonah, our middle brother, was four. My mom was 36. My dad was 38 and having a midlife crisis. So, he did what most rational 38-year-old men do when their wives are seven months pregnant with their third child: they buy a 1985 Mercedes 380SL with the money they don’t have. It was our “fun car,” and it broke down every three weeks, on command.
My mom says that when I was born, my dad was afraid to touch me because he thought I would break. Don’t get me wrong, though—my dad is great with kids. We call him Mr. Cheese because he’s so god damn cheesy. He objectively likes the Disney Channel more than I do, and he still watches it sometimes, late at night when the good reruns are on.
When it came to having kids, my mom was less afraid. She was so unafraid, in fact, that she refused any epidural–not even an IV–when she gave birth. There was a full moon on September 22, 1995, whose gravitational pull helped me to just pop out naturally.
In addition to giving birth, my mom has a lot of other hobbies. She’s taken up the following at different periods throughout my life: knitting, decorative beading, bracelet beading, candle making, mah jong, yoga, Crossfit, and kickboxing. Unlike other moms, my mom does not attend clubs or do these things in groups of women. Instead, she turns our kitchen into a chemical factory and our dining room table into a design studio and works hard knitting/beading/doing Crossfit/making candles/etc. She has an incredibly entrepreneurial spirit.
As of this month, my mom has a new hobby. She has recently become a doula.
We love poking fun at her for this. When I run around the house screaming “Mom’s a doula!!!!!!!” in manic excitement, my dad, a.k.a. Mr. Cheese, mutters under his breath, “More like a dufus.”
A doula is “a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.” This is according to dona.org, the official home base for doulas.
As soon as my mom became certified, she wouldn’t let any of us forget it. Here is a series of texts I’ve received from her over the last month:
Doula class so amazing! I can’t wait to help you labor and deliver!!!!
I’m just about ready!
The next day:
Mom: How are you? I’m a doula!
Me: I’m in the middle of a focus group for my thesis. 10 girls here
Mom: Oooo – tell them I’m a doula and call me after. ❤ :-*
When my friend Jamie texted my mom to congratulate her:
Jamie: Congrats on becoming a doula!!!! ❤
Mom: Thanks so much honey!!!!! I’ve haven’t been so excited about something like this in forever! Best feeling ever! I’m also now prepped to get you guys thru your pregnancies, labors and births! Not soon please but whenever you’re ready! ❤ :-* ❤
Last week, I had been home for less than an hour when my mom entered my room and said, “Get up on all fours,” which is the second most demeaning position anyone has ever requested me to contort into (the first being every time Alison at the European Wax Center makes me hold my own butt cheeks apart). But I oblige because she’s my mom and I love her, and I get on all fours on my bed, and my mom, insistent on applying her doula practices to my very much unimpregnated body, applies what feels like every pound in her body to a spot on my upper ass.
“Yes, there’s the pressure points to help with labor!” she says.
“I’m not in labor, Mom,” I say.
“Doesn’t that feel good?” she asks from behind.
“No,” I say. “It actually is incredibly painful,” and then I collapse on my bed because I simply cannot take the sharp pain anymore.
Quickly, my mom leaves my room and returns less than a minute later with a two-foot-long wooden stick.
“Let me give you a rub-y,” my mom says to me in a baby voice so that I’m no longer sure if I’m supposed to be pregnant or newborn. Flattened on my belly, I feel her roll the wood over my left shoulder.
“A little to the right,” I tell her, because this isn’t so bad. “Get my spine.” I crane my neck over my shoulder. Upon closer examination, I realize what is really going on here.
“Is that a rolling pin?” I ask.
“No, it’s for doula-ing!” she defends.
“Mom, that is a rolling pin that you got from the kitchen. You are rubbing me with a rolling pin,” I say, and she doesn’t really care. Eventually we both start laughing so hard that we cry all over my virginal childhood bed. Over the course of that weekend, my mom received four packages of doula equipment to replace our 20-year-old rolling pin. A lot of them look like sex toys.
In another journal entry from fourth grade, I wrote a piece titled “My Baby Doll” about my favorite doll, Madeline, dated September 24, 2004:
I absolutely LOVE babies, real or fake. Big or small, short or tall. When I am 13 I’d like to start babysitting on weekends. When I am 25, I’d like to get married and by 30, I want a kid. Dolls are real fun to play with. You can throw them up to the ceiling and catch them, or you can stuff them in a backpack. Either way, that’s how it all started. With Madeline and I.
I have acquired a lot of traits from my mom. We both absolutely love babies. She roughly aligns my fake-pregnant hips as I crouch on all fours, I throw fake-living babies up to the ceiling and catch them. Or stuff them in a backpack.
In 2004 I was nine years old, and already had a perception of when I thought it would be right to get married, get pregnant. You know – to want a kid.
It’s 2016. I am 21 and single. I don’t think I will get married by 25, and only god knows if I’ll have a baby by 30. My friends are flocking to the gyno for IUDs in fear of being soon denied the right to birth control. The good news is that if and when I do get pregnant – whether I’m single, married, #girlboss, but, most importantly, pregnant by my own choosing – I’ll have someone to take a rolling pin to my back.
Illustration via Annie Warner.