On Saturday, Mr. Book and I went to a monthly giveaway thingy run by an antiabortion center in town. I’ve mentioned it before—that’s where I got a pregnancy test—and while I do of course feel weird about their politics, I have to give them credit for following through; once a month, pregnant people, people with babies, and people with little kids are welcome to show up, eat a free hotdog, and get a few diapers and other baby things. I scored half a dozen diapers, a couple of onesies, and a pair of Robeez in fantastic shape. Woo!

So now the weird part. The people who run the center have a very different sort of philosophy from mine, perhaps obviously. At one point, the headwoman approached us and asked us to help set up a tent. “Sure!” says I.

“Oh, no!” she responds, seemingly shocked. “We don’t let mommies work—only daddies.”

She steps away for a moment, scanning the crowd for other possible recruits, and Mr. Book looks me in the eye and says “What the hell are we doing here?”

I don’t have a better answer than “diapers,” which isn’t particularly satisfying, so instead I trail along behind the men who’ve been recruited to put together a tent and their leader, Robert. I sit and knit while watching my husband grow increasingly frustrated as Robert, unable to figure the tent out, issues meaningless orders in a manly sort of way. I would like to point out that the whole tent couldn’t have weighed more than fifteen pounds, and that I am regularly hauling a good bit more than that in groceries home from the bus stop. I don’t think of myself as helpless, and while I wouldn’t try to lift a car or anything, I could in fact have safely helped with the construction. Funnily enough, it turns out that the only person around who knows how to put this tent together is a pregnant woman volunteer who has to wait for the headwoman to get distracted before taking over the assembly team. Robert recovers his sense of leadership by coming over and condescending to me. At least it’s a beautiful morning.

10 thoughts on “Mommies

  1. I think I know that organization because at the YWCA (a pro-choice organization — it’s in the mission statement) used to refer clients to them because, yeah, they are walking their talk. And if we had clients who needed baby stuff, heck yeah we were happy to give them those options because being pro-choice, we were more than happy to support those women who were parenting and needed help.

    I sometimes shop at the thrift shop that’s managed by our local version of the same organization and I donated all of my maternity clothes to them, too. I have mixed feelings about it.

  2. Ahh I love that a woman took the lead and got the tent built! I like to hear about an org. that provides tangible (albeit limited) support to pregnant women and new parents. Gender politics among this anti-abortion crowd sound interesting. I would have been interested to hear how the division of labor at home breaks down. I could imagine how strange it felt sitting there as a vegetarian, pro-choice mommy, but it’s nice to picture a growing stack of clean diapers!

    • It gets weirder when you know that we spent our waiting time sitting on the asphalt and chatting about this polyamory podcast I’ve been listening to (dedicated monogamist here, but deeply curious about many alt lifestyles, and happy to share some of the odder trivia I’ve picked up with my long-suffering husband)—I keep listening because the hostess’s personal life is a fascinating trainwreck, and inflicted the gory details on my Mister.

  3. Just so you know, an extremely pro-choice organization, Planned Parenthood, offers the same help and services to mothers as well. At least they do where I live.

    • I used to go to Planned Parenthood for birth control, but when I was first realizing that I was pregnant with Cricket and trying to figure out what I should do, I called them and got an incredibly nasty response. Was told very clearly that women not planning abortions should eff off. I’m sure that’s not true at all locations, and maybe not the one here, but I’m not calling them again. =/

      • Well that is not good. The PP where I live seems to truly support any choice a woman makes. Your PP seems to be completely pro-abortion which IMO is NOT pro-choice.

        Maybe it IS time to start your own organization that supports women without the agenda.

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