Saturday, May 12, 2012

last i checked, i was mom enough.

so, this whole attachment parenting issue with the mom nursing an older child is causing quite the stir. Before I even knew about the cover, I had read a few articles on, mostly critical of the AP movement, and one op ed piece comparing AP to a drug habit. ...Maybe I'd find that more entertaining if I weren't a recovering alcoholic.

Anyway, I was pretty pissed after reading some of those articles. And I've sat and thought on it for a bit, here, because lord knows the internet needs another blog post about this crap, with yet another parent on one side or the other self-righteously chest pounding that their way is the right way, or the only way. Time magazine is doing what it was designed to do - provoke thought and arguments. While I am now just rolling my eyes at some of their AP-critical articles, I am still (self righteously) pissed about Elizabeth Badinter's book The Conflict, and her anti-breastfeeding, anti-motherhood rhetoric, all in the name of feminism. That is a related blog post that could take me DAYS to write, and would probably take a few hours to read. We'll skip that for now, and probably forever. Well, not totally skip it - I would just like to point out that the publicity firm that Badinter has no small stake in is the rep for nearly all of the formula giants. Uh, conflict of interest much? Yeah. Thought so.

One thing I will take from Badinter's The Conflict is what she calls the "naturalist" movement of parenting (or some other similar buzzword). Call it naturalist, call it AP, call it evolutionary behavior, call it a biological imperative. I think it's ridiculous to separate us from the animals, because...uh, we're animals. Opposable thumbs have given us an advantage, but to what end? The population has exploded, we've got an assload of social problems, starvation, and now science tells us what's good for us. Oh wait. But now it's bad. Oh wait, but now only this part is bad. *facepalm*

There's this crazy thing called intuition. I use it in my parenting. I don't care how you parent. If you want to stuff your kids full of french fries and coca cola, shut them in a room while they sob til they vomit, teach them that competition and money are the only important things in life, more power to you. I look forward to when your segment of the population goes the way of the dinosaurs, just like Pottinger's cats. Going back to that first sentence there, how does it make you feel when your baby is crying? Like you should pick it up? Then go ahead and do it. Hey, how do animals throughout the animal kingdom feed their babies? Do they go to the store and grab a can of a breastmilk replacement? No? Then you probably shouldn't either. Again, we are not that far removed from animals.

If your intuition tells you your baby will sleep fine on his or her own, in his or her own crib, in his or her own room, awesome. If your intuition tells you your child will not be sleeping anywhere but in your arms, awesome. But just flipping listen to it! Jesus Haripod CHRIST. Why do we need someone to tell us what to do all the time?! Trust me, I am no huge fan of Dr. Sears. I could hardly slog through his Fussy Baby book. If you are looking for scientific studies to tell you it's ok to let your child cry for a little bit, I am sure they are out there, as well as evidence to the contrary. Eggs are good, eggs are bad, coffee is good, coffee is bad. Great, what does your body say?

Anyway, I guess the point here is I don't think modern society is all it's cracked up to be, and I don't need someone to tell me how to raise my kids. My oldest slept fine on his own. He never had to cry it out. My youngest let me know from day one that she would not be separated from me for even a second and lord help me if I thought about setting her down. I did what worked for each of them. Surprise! They're both still alive! I do wish I had known more about nursing when my son was born. I do wish I had been able to establish a nursing relationship with my daughter (who was born with a cleft palate). Would I have nursed them well into childhood? I don't know. It would be handy to not have to get out of bed 5x a night to make little bean another bottle (yeah, she still wakes up A LOT. Big moyashi did not.) Do I look at my friends who are happily nursing their toddlers and beyond and feel a pang of regret? Yup. Do I look at my friends who are trying to beg their children to wait awhile before nursing again and get pissed about getting stuck on the couch for hours on end with a pang of regret? Nope. The grass is always greener, and each option has it's pros and cons. I don't understand how we've evolved so much mentally to still have to have other people tell us what to do and what is right. I just don't. What's right should be individual and come from within. If you can't do a head, heart, and gut check and figure it out...well, maybe you need some more quiet time.

And the pain of natural childbirth thing...well, there's a big payoff. Ever experienced a birth high? It lasts for WEEKS. You don't get that huge surge of birthing chemicals if you're doped to high heaven. I wound up with an epidural after 28 hours of labor and 10 hours of intense vomiting and dehydration and back labor. That epidural wore off. I was able to move around to give birth. It hurt, a lot. I screamed and begged and pleaded for a c-section, because it felt like my hip was going to split in two (that's not normal, folks, she was coming out on an angle). That 55 minutes of pushing felt like an eternity. Then I spent the next several weeks in a state of sleepless bliss, contentment, and awe. Thank you, oxytocin.

Two other things and I'll end this already abysmally long rant.

One - We've grown up in tribes, and now we're all separate. Find your damned tribe and stop whining about how hard it is to be a parent. Yeah, it's hard when you have to do it all on your own with no physical, mental, emotional, and moral support. Meet other local parents. I promise they won't bite.

Two - jiminy cricket, if I hear one more "feminist" complain about what a time suck children are, I will slap them across the face with The Feminine Mystique. Can I get a huge and resounding DUH?! Yeah, having kids is a time suck. It's a priority change. It means putting something other than yourself first. Hard to do, I know. No, really. I know. Having children is making a commitment to a future generation. It's hard, it's tiring, it's thankless, and we're biologically hardwired to do it. Thankfully, we've got this righteous thing called free will. If you are not willing to give up EVERYTHING for your children, don't have them. When you're willing, you'll find that you don't need to give up everything. Or really, much of anything. We grow, we get old, we change. I'm sorry for those who feel having children is too much work. It's a hell of a lot of work. Especially when you have a high intensity child. I had no idea how much more work those were. But that work is some of the most gratifying I've ever done.

I don't know if I live in some kind of creepy alternate universe, or what. My partner, the mister, does a ton of work raising our children and helping the household run smoothly too. It's not about men's work and women's work. I have an awesome tribe I belong to of people from all walks of life who argue about EVERYTHING but never fail to give support when it's needed. I am constantly trying to find the balance between work, play, children, family, and alone time. Not everything always gets done. I think what we most need to fear is the cult of perfection. It's not about being mom enough. Or man enough. Or womyn enough. It's about being able to live with our decisions, know when something isn't working, and f**king change it already.

/end rant.


Cat Pall said...

Love this.. Miss you. Hope I'm as good a mother as you :)

mama mojo said...

Cat, you're going to be an awesome mom! Miss you too, lady.