Saturday, January 07, 2006
The alpha and the omega
OmegaGranny asked, in an email, where'd I come up with "OmegaMom"? Did it have anything to do with the IBM software of the same name? (No.) Mr. OmegaMom asked the same thing this week. OmegaMom has been around the world of internet bulletin boards for a long time. Seeking information on pregnancy and childbirth, she hit the Usenet newsgroups (this was 12 years ago, sigh). Then she moved on to mailing lists. Then she discovered parenting websites such as iVillage, and the forums on those websites. It seemed there was a subgroup of moms who were going for the "Golden Vagina" award on all these arenas. (OmegaMom can't take credit for the phrase; it's been around for a while, with variations being "tightest vagina of them all", "brass ovaries", "uberMom" and more.) AlphaMoms ferry kids from one activity to the next on a constant basis. They read to their burgeoning uteri as their AlphaBabies are gestating. They play Baby Mozart to their fetuses, and then in the crib, to stimulate their AlphaBabies' neural pathways. They breastfeed to ensure that extra IQ point or two, to smooth the way to Harvard. They feed their babies only homemade baby food, using only organically grown vegetables from the local health-food store. The best schools, the best after-school programs, the best art classes, music classes, dance classes, French au pairs, and on and on. Don't get me wrong: I have lots of online friends who have done one or more of these different things; it's the attitude that makes OmegaMom's eyes bug out when encountering true Alpha Moms. The implicit understanding that if you don't do these things, well...you're just a Bad Mom and Not Sacrificing Enough. OmegaMom, let's face it, is lazy. Being an AlphaMom seems like so darned much work. Case in point: This article, about a lady name of Isabel Kallman, who embodies this type of uber-competitive woman. It spawned much eyerolling and "tight vagina" remarks on various internet sites that OmegaMom frequents. In counterpoint, there was the coterie that claimed that no-one rolls their eyes and gnashes their teeth about men doing this kind of thing (100-hour work weeks, go-go-go CEO approach to life, etc.). OmegaMom's response to that is, I wouldn't want to be an AlphaMom, and I sure as heck wouldn't want to marry someone like that, either. And, from one or two women whom OmegaMom recognizes as Alpha types, came some impassioned defenses that came right out and said that the Omegas were just jealous, or defensive because they felt that they weren't doing enough. Um. I read that article, and I think, "But where's the relaxation? Where's the 'let's sit on the futon and eat junk food and watch movies together' mode? Where's the 'let a kid be a kid' downtime? Anyway, OmegaMom's philosophy of parenthood is to read the snot out of the subject, then to just muddle through, doing the parenting thang by guess and by golly. So I picked the title OmegaMom out of a rueful acceptance of the fact that I will never be an AlphaMom, will never understand the go-go-go, go-for-the-finest mentality, and my children will be just children to me, not an Olympic sports event.