But if you read UrbanBaby, it’s hard not to be unsettled by the same conclusion that hit Friedan when she surveyed the mothers of America: that what seem like women’s private struggles can be seen as an expression of their shared experience. Without a baby, it’s easy to maintain the idea that you and your husband are atomic individuals, mavericks who shape your own fates; afterward, that notion slips away. In the seventies, the solution for all this was supposed to be consciousness-raising groups. Women would gather together and spill their beans, then look for a pattern among the beans that had been spilled. These meetings weren’t supposed to be merely bitch sessions or therapy. They were supposed to be an opportunity to look for the connections: to figure out how to restructure the world so that there was more room for everyone.
UrbanBaby and the Web in general can’t offer that. They are too chaotic and too ephemeral; it’s impossible to work for change when no one can agree on what needs to be changed, when even your closest ideological allies are nameless and disappear at 2 A.M.
But for all the bile on UrbanBaby, there’s still something affecting and even powerful about seeing women’s experiences spilled out so freely. In even the saddest exchanges, there’s a feeling of community—the possibility for isolated women to hack their way through to a bigger picture. In these moments, women seem to be offering one another a way to reimagine the mother they’ve become.
“Feeling sad about marriage. Have beautiful 4 mo son and a little bored with DH. We’re not having sex that much, and I’m exhausted being home with ds. Money is tight and we aren’t always kind when speaking to each other—rather sarcastic in fact.”
“it will get better. the first six months with a new baby can be very hard on a marriage.”
“you are me. i feel stuck.”
“4 mos we were still adjusting . . . and I felt like a single mom . . . and he didn’t appreciate how hard going back to work was (my choice, but still hard), things started to get better soon after”
“It takes awhile to get used to a new person in your home.”