An Israeli mom reflects on the social ostracism that followed becoming a parent.
Nevertheless, a few years ago, when I was about 34 and my biological clock started waking me up in the morning, I thought I’d carefully bring the subject to the table. It was met with equal amounts of ridicule, contempt, and pity. Some of my friends treated me as if I declared myself a right-wing fascist or just stared at me as if they felt sorry for me for leaving the realm of rational thought and voluntarily crossing over to the other side—the side of brain-dead baby-talk. Having a baby, they explained, is akin to throwing your life away. The thought of not fitting into your skinny jeans for a few months or missing out on nights of debauchery in the presence of some highly regarded international DJ is considered by some a fate worse than death.For months before I got pregnant, my friends tried to convince me that having a baby would be a horrible mistake. They emailed me links to academic studies and research showing that children don’t, in fact, make you happy. They told me that wishing to reproduce is narcissistic. I couldn’t always argue with their logic, and in hindsight I must admit that they were right in predicting that once I had a baby, I’d be having more conversations about the different shades and textures of poo than political debates or semiotic analysis of films.But their ignorance turned into outright denial when I actually did get knocked up. From week to week my belly grew, but my friends around the Friday café table didn’t seem to notice—or, maybe, they didn’t want to notice. At one point I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to blatantly point to my baby bump. The first reaction was a series of blank looks. Then: “What? You got a new shirt?”***A few months after my boyfriend and I became parents, we found out we weren’t invited to an afternoon barbecue at a friend’s house. I tried to remember if one of us said anything to annoy him, or if a notorious ex might be on the guest list, thwarting our invitation. After some unsuccessful speculation, I decided to confront my friend, who simply said that he was sorry, but the other guests didn’t want babies at their party. I assumed even baby-haters know that a sleeping infant in a baby-carrier wouldn’t be much of an imposition, but maybe they were afraid I’d be so rude as to breastfeed while people are eating—a vulgar and thoughtless act that might propel someone to lose his spareribs.