Category: Uncategorized

I don’t normally do this (please see all the posts I have NOT written of late), but today I came across something that set my blood to boiling. After four years of being a reluctant player in the Mommy Wars game, I thought I was pretty immune to all the ridiculous hate parents can and do throw at one another. I was so wrong. It all started out innocently enough: A post claiming sympathy for moms out in public with crying children in carts or strollers or what-have-you. Mothers not carrying their children about their daily tasks during the brief periods of time in which the author saw them.

From this, the author drew the only logical conclusion: These mothers were harming their children by not holding them when they cried. No matter how short a time she saw them nor what the circumstances were nor the condition of mother and child, her advice? Mothers, don’t let your babies cry alone. Pick them up. Haven’t had a shower or peed or eaten? PIck up your crying babe.

Yep, because that’s not a one-way ticket to PPD hell or anything.

I’ve seen this before, but I think what got me this time was the way she veiled her clear criticism behind faux concern: Oh, I know she looked tired, and I WANTED to offer to help her, but I decided that would be too weird, so I just got online and blogged about how she should be a better parent by holding her baby instead of pushing him/her in a stroller.

Why is it faux concern? Because if the author genuinely wanted to help, she would have. Instead, she just parlayed other mothers’ misery into a post extolling her own personal brand of parenting.

I guess what I’m saying is this: The next time you see a parent out in public and they look overwhelmed, and you’re tempted to condescendingly extoll the virtues of always holding their baby, don’t. Instead, hold the baby your damn self. Know a new mom who’s at her wits’ end with a colicky baby? Don’t tell her, essentially, “Fuck you, pick up that baby who’s screamed for six out of the last eight hours.” Offer to watch the baby while she sleeps. Know that mom and dad just need half an hour to shower and pee in peace? Hold the baby so they can take care of themselves, too.

Parents who have neglected themselves or given themselves over 100% to a baby’s needs with no thought to their own won’t last long; they’re more likely to fight with each other, to lose their tempers, to do irreparable damage to their marriages or relationships in sleep-deprived anger, or to hurt themselves or others in a daze of exhaustion. And single parents? I honestly have no idea how they manage, because it was hard enough for us to make it through those early days with two of us taking turns!

It takes so little for us to help one another and to build a healthy parenting community. Just hold a baby!


Christmas Joy

The Munchkin enjoyed this Christmas infinitely more than he enjoyed last Christmas.  He was all about ripping into the wrapping paper and tearing into the boxes.  So much so that he wanted to help everyone else open their presents, too.

He did end up getting a little overwhelmed by the time all was said and done on Christmas Day, since we did our little family Christmas here at home and then went to my mom’s for big family Christmas there.  Plus he had way more gifts than he really needed — only-grandchild-syndrome is hard to get around — so he was opening and opening and opening.  The funniest thing is that his absolute favorite gift of the day was one of the simplest: a play tunnel like the one he loves to play in at daycare.  Forget the Big Wheel.  Forget the LOL Elmo.  Forget the crayons and coloring book.  Give that boy his play tunnel and get out of his way!

For me, though, the best moment, even over and above his reaction to coming around the couch to see what Santa Claus had brought for him, was when he came out of his play tunnel, looked up at Southern Honey, and chirped, “Hi, Daddy!” on his way back around to do it all again.

Sick baby is sick

And ain’t nobody happy about it.

He’s gone back to being Clingy McVelcrobritches tonight, but I’m so glad to have his fever down and mostly gone that I’m mostly only concerned about the fact that the Thanksgiving turkey is thawing in the back seat of the car and I can’t get out there to bring it in.

This is a really good reason for us to get a recliner, though, because trying to sleep on the couch with him only works for so long.  What doesn’t help is that the cats will use the living room for an amusement park all night long, waking him up constantly, if I’m out here with him.  If I go to the bedroom, they’ll curl up with me there and leave the Munchkin alone, but if I were to stay up with him like I did the other night, they take that as a sign that they need to run wild all night.  Cats are assholes.

Mother Guilt

In the past two months, I’ve really been initiated into the cult of Mother Guilt.  You know, all those things that you do or don’t do as a mother that you’re told you should feel guilty for doing or not doing.  Or just the things that cause you to feel guilty for no apparent reason.  It’s total crap, but it’s very real.

I’ve discovered that I have a skewed sense of Mother Guilt.  I don’t feel guilty for doing or not doing most of the common things.  Instead, I feel guilty that I don’t feel guilty.  I think it’s my repressed Catholic side coming out.  😀

For example, breastfeeding.  I’ve been having tons of trouble breastfeeding, keeping my supply up, so we started supplementing with formula and pumping/bottle-feeding rather than directly breastfeeding.  I didn’t feel guilty about that, not really.  What got me feeling horrible was that I hadn’t enjoyed breastfeeding, had started resenting the time and the discomfort (pain sometimes, because the Munchkin never really got his latch quite right and would jerk a lot from all the gas — little guy just about took off my nipples on more than one occasion!), and was secretly glad to be hooked up to a machine than to my child.  Which sounds horrible but I have to admit is true.  Hence the Mother Guilt.  After all, La Leche League calls it the “Womanly Art of Breastfeeding,” so I should be rejoicing about my opportunity to practice this most feminine of tasks, or something like that, not feeling resentful.  😦

Another parenting decision that tends to set off Mother Guilt: babysitters and leaving the Munchkin for an extended period of time.  Before this week, the only person who had kept the Munchkin for any period of time was my mother, and she’s been helping out since he was about three or four weeks old, when I was about to break down from being alone with him nearly 24/7 (which was another source of Mother Guilt, although I don’t think I had backwards Mother Guilt there).  She even kept him overnight when he was about five weeks to allow us to get some serious sleep.  As I was on the way out the door, thinking longingly of our bed, mom was telling me about how hard she cried the first time she left me overnight, and I realized that that sort of reaction was expected from me.  Only I couldn’t summon it because I was so exhausted and overwhelmed and because I had realized that leaving him with her was actually one of the best things I could do for him — he needed parents who weren’t on the verge of melting down or falling asleep — so I felt guilty that I didn’t feel guilty.

(Holy run-on paragraphs, Batman!)

I suppose at least I cried Monday when I had to take him to day care for the first time.  Everyone talks about how hard that is, and how much they wish they could stay home.  It’s expected that a mother feel guilty that she, for whatever reason, can’t be the primary caregiver in the home.  Even if she’s the primary breadwinner instead.  That’s solid Mother Guilt, right?

Why are there so many things that mothers culturally seem to be expected to feel guilty about if they can’t provide or do?  People don’t expect dads to feel badly about sending their children to day care instead of staying home with them.  And they seem to dote on dads who help with middle-of-the-night feedings as though doing so were some major miracle instead of, I don’t know, parenting (I know that it’s not always practical for dads to help with this, but the massive mountains of praise heaped on dads who can and do).

I just don’t get it, but I do refuse to feel guilty over these things anymore.  Is the Munchkin healthy?  Is he developing normally?  Is he happy?  If the answers to these questions are yeses, then I’m doing fine, damnit.

Oh, also, the comments about how I don’t look like I had a baby.  Is it expected that new moms never shed that extra weight in less than months or years?  I can’t even tell you how many women I’ve had say something like that, and not always in the friendliest fashion.  So then I’m reduced to pointing out that not eating and not sleeping for three weeks, combined with eleven weeks of all-day morning sickness, go a long way toward shedding what weight I did gain, just not in any sort of doctor-approved manner, much less an enjoyable one.  *sighs*