Friday, January 28, 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh Gag!

I haven't been doing a lot of writing this year, what with the baby attached constantly to my breast and all, but I've been doing a lot of reading...  And I'm not liking what I'm reading folks.

First Amy Chua came out and called all American/Western mothers wimps, and basically said that we don't love our kids enough to demand that they perform like trained circus animals or something....  I think she wants to be the Siegfried & Roy of parenting, with all her little tiger children jumping through hoops around her.  At least, that's how I pictured it.  And now Blossom is on the Today Show's mommyblog telling us that she has never told her kids to "say please" or "say thank you."  Wow.  I didn't even realize that correcting kids' manners had gone out of vogue for modern mommies.  I'm pretty sure that's a revelation we can all do without.  I've met some kids who really, really needed to be reminded to not act like wild animals. 

Two ends of the parenting spectrum, both telling us that we're doing it wrong.  Both stretching the wild animal metaphors to the absolute limit.  Don't even get me started on Sarah Palin and her Mama Grizzly thing.  Ugh.

Every time one of these articles appears, the blogosphere erupts with praise and condemnation, and everyone has an opinion, and everyone says that the original author is doing this and that and the other wrong, and it goes on and on...

Well, I'm here to say two important words (that Mayim Bialik would never say):     Shut up!

Everyone needs to quit with the mommy bashing and the my-way-is-better-than-your-way-ing and the sanctimony and the catty crappiness.  Just knock it off.

I talk about parenting a lot, both here and in real life, and I work really hard to say, "This is how I decided to approach this situation," but not to judge other moms and their choices.  I think I've been pretty consistent in saying, "your mileage may vary," when I've talked about touchy issues in mothering.  I hope I've succeeded, and that I haven't made anyone feel like this is a "my way or the highway" sort of blog (or worse, I hope no one reads this as an "I'm better than you are!" blog - I would die of embarrassment). 

Yes, I believe in breastfeeding.  I also believe in paying the mortgage, though, and if I had to work for someone other than my husband in order to keep a roof over our heads, and if that environment weren't friendly to pumping or bringing the baby with me, I would absolutely feed formula.  I recognize that not every mom has the luxury of being able to stay home or take their baby to work, and I am just profoundly grateful that I do.  I hope that comes through when I write about nursing.  I also know what it's like to have supply issues, or medical issues that prevent breastfeeding, and you know what?  Even if you had no reason at all to not breastfeed, it was your choice and it's none of my business.

Similarly, I believe in co-sleeping.  You know why?  Because that is the only way I get any sleep.  I would be thrilled if our kids would sleep in a crib, but they have other plans.  Maybe I'm a rotten mother and I just haven't figured out the magic secret to getting kids to sleep in their own beds.  (People are already asking me if Jack is sleeping through the night, and I'm like, "Um, no, we're hoping that the 5-1/2 year old will figure it out soon, then we'll work on the baby!")  If you can get your kids to sleep in a crib at 6 weeks, or to sleep through the night in general, I am impressed, and I think you're lucky that you got kids that sleep well.  Claire is one of those kids, and we parented her the same way we've parented the other two... so I'm pretty sure that it's just luck and temperament, and not some magic secret that I'm missing or some superiority in your parenting style vs. mine.

Do you have anything in orange?
I read an article a couple days ago that said that Graco strollers are the "Velveeta" of strollers, and that other mothers probably judge me because of my Graco stroller.  You know what?  I don't want to be friends with those materialistic mommies, anyway.  I'll take my Graco pushing, Kohl's Sale shopping, Honda driving, Velveeta eating crowd any day over a bunch of one-uppers.  I honestly have never noticed another woman's stroller, except when I was looking at doubles when the girls were little, and I quizzed everyone I saw with a double stroller on whether they liked theirs or not.  I wouldn't be able to pick a Maclaran out of a crowd, nor do I care. 

Don't you think we would all be better off if we stopped judging each other?  Seriously, we're all doing the best we can with what we've got - and we all have limited resources - time, money, breastmilk, ability to deal with a lack of sleep, etc.  None of us have infinite supplies of any of those things, and our limits are unique to our individual situations.  So why not just acknowledge that anyone who is taking the time to read mommyblogs and parenting websites is probably already doing the best she can (otherwise she'd be busy doing whatever people who aren't obsessed with parenting do).  The moms who truly need the advice are NOT the ones reading these blogs and getting into these endless debates, and even if they were, they're probably not going to listen to someone who's saying, "You're doing it wrong!  You need to be more like this wild animal!"

I think this year we should all retroactively resolve to stop judging each other, and we should remember that all of us are just doing the best we can with what we've got.  And we should stop looking to old episodes of Wild Kingdom for the secret to better parenting.  For real.

Don't worry, though, I'm not going to hold my breath.  What would that make me, a dolphin mother?

1 comment:

Heather said...

Dear Amy, I love you.

Also, yep, this pretty much mines up with my belief that every aspect of our lives as adult people - EVERY aspect of trying to get by as a grown-up (and when did that happen dammit) - would go a lot more smoothly if we could all just leave freaking middle school behind.

Politics on TV is like this - who's sleeping with who, who said what, what did they really mean and how does that compare to what they say they mean. Shopping is like this - every freaking commercial on TV is trying to ocnvince we'll be cool, have more friends, and maybe even get laid if we Buy This Product. Even trying to get out of the house is like this - I've signed up for a couple beginner classes at the local community center over the years, and have watched people drop out or make themselves miserable trying to compare where they are in ability to where they think "everyone else" is.

Even driving. Why else do you take it so personally when someone else doesn't use their turn signal? Substitute the 8th-grade Scoff of Disbelief for whatever reaction you're already using, and see how well it fits.

Just quit it, people. Seriously. Just. Quit it.