“Parenting” is a new-aged noun that every person who has the joy of procreating in the 21st century will redefine on a daily basis. There are so many polarizing conversations centered around this topic it’s hard to believe a fully assimilated child will ever evolve from our efforts to become a contributing member of society. What with all the damage we do to them by bottle feeding, vaccinating, not vaccinating, breastfeeding too long, cosleeping/not cosleeping, starting solids too early, over scheduling them, oh and crushing their legs with a rear-facing car seat. But Kveller blogger Carla was right in that there is no one way to parent because there are no two children exactly alike. I think that how we talk about “parenting” is the problem and not the actual motions we go through in the privacy of our own homes to love and raise our children to the best of our abilities.
I have been thinking a lot about how I relate to other parents and after reading this post, I could not agree more. I never identified as granola, crunchy or alternative. I shave my pits and let my family consume produce from Wal-Mart (the horror!) but after my son was born there were certain things that just felt right for us. I breastfeed, we coslept, I make all my own babyfood and I wear him everywhere I go. Those things didn’t make me a better Mama, if anything they make me cheap and lazy. I didn’t want to mess with the cost or hassle of bottles, I didn’t want to get out of bed to feed him, he was less fussy when he stayed close to my chest and I’m not going to shell out $1 per jar of pureed squash that I can blend up for a fraction of the price.
But my parenting strategies didn’t all of a sudden make me a hippie either. I’m still me, granted a sleep-deprived, overprotective version with a child strapped to my chest. But I’m not going to compost or deny the advances of modern medicine to go it alone with an acupuncturist and a deck of tarot cards anytime soon.
I realized that much of my “parenting” aligned with the Dr. Sears model of “attachment parenting” and while I do identify with this movement, I also feel like I have to hide the fact that we don’t cloth diaper, the amber necklace I bought did jack for teething, and we no longer co sleep. Actually, after about six months my son wouldn’t sleep in bed with me for five minutes if I paid him in chocolate breastmilk popsicles. So, off to his crib he went to sleep soundly through the night and never look back. My baby played quietly in the exersaucer while I cooked for close to five months until he outgrew it and then we assembled the playyard (I shred the directions after reading that the contraption “is great for pets, too!”) My child happily plays independently in a confined area and I get dinner on the table. And while I believe our birth experience was exactly as it should have been, I’m not going to pipe up and brag about my induction, epidural, and episiotomy. I don’t want a medal for the way in which my son came into this world, having him here is evidence enough that it was perfect.
The SNL video clip of Tina Fey in a birthing class in the post is all kinds of hilarious and not just because of the birthing-69-position. It demonstrates that they way we parent and talk about parenting may not be as well-suited for another family as it is to our own. I like to think that because of my own trial-and-error parenting I am more accepting of how other people raise their children and I love to learn new tricks along the way. It took me a while to feel confident as a Mama, but I am only confident that I am doing right by my son–and I have no clue about other kids.
So here’s to inclusive conversations that lead to better mothers, unlikely friends, and the hope that we manage to screw our kids up as little as possible along the way.