Like a game of roulette, lately it seems anyone could spin the wheel and land on a parenting technique and consequently, drive yourself crazy trying to live up to its standards.
Don’t breastfeed for a year, you are giving yourself over fully to the evil “tyranny off the baby” which Ann Crittenden poignantly notes has replaced patriarchy, according to the new French feminist tome “Conflict” written by Elisabeth Badinter. Don’t succumb to the pressures of placing the needs of a child before your own, don’t give in to the all-consuming demands of parenthood. You owe yourself more than that. It’s all or nothing. There is no gray area.
Or maybe you’ll land on being “mom enough”, the attachment parenting philosophy oh-so-conveniently invented by a man, Dr. Sears, that defines motherhood perfection as giving over every part of a woman’s self to her child for as long as possible – nurse the baby on demand, sleep with the baby, wear the baby. Sleep, breathe, eat, be the baby. If you don’t do this, your child won’t be happy. He won’t be well adjusted. He won’t know that you LOVE HIM. Oh, and make sure you don’t let him cry. There’s certainly no other research out there proving that crying a bit can actually be good for a baby.
If you’re really lucky, you could land on some of the celeb parenting trends, some even popular in developing countries: January Jones (dry up your placenta, have someone turn it into a pill, then eat it) or better yet, Alicia Silverstone’s preference for pre-masticating – that’s right – chew up your kid’s food then push it into his mouth.
“Here you go darling, let me pass you some soft, gooey bread, I’ve added some Hepatitis B to give it an extra kick. You can thank me later, after all, all the kids in rural China get their food this way, so why shouldn’t you?”
Pre-masticating is rivaled only by everyone’s favorite bombshell supermodel, Gisele’s claims of “elimination communication” – where her baby was potty trained at 6 months old. I’m for sure going to take the word of a spoiled, wealthy super model that she was so attentive and hands-on, that she was able to potty train her child two years before the rest of us. She’s hotter than all of us, so why wouldn’t she be better at parenting, right?
Totally makes sense.
There was a time when all the talk over these parenting techniques made me crazy. Now I’ve decided I absolutely love it. You know why? Because it’s fun to talk about people who are radically different from you. I will never breast feed a child until he is four, let alone put him on the front cover of a magazine doing it. I will never wear a baby constantly. I like to
from my children. I like to get away from them. And then come back to them because I missed them.
And though my 3-year-old totally believes in pre-masticating, it’s crazy I know, but somehow I’m able to resist the chewed up food she so graciously deposits into the palm of my hand and instead of placing it into my mouth, I toss it in the trash.
As for elimination communication, apparently I #failed that parenting trend too because I just last night got rid of all the overnight diapers – we are officially just now – at 3.5 a totally diaper free zone. Sure, we were diaper free during the day but not at night. Gisele has a better body than me (just barely of course) and also is better at potty training than moi.
She’s better than you too. It’s okay.
As for the tyranny of the baby, that 10 pound human oppressing you? What Ann Crittenden writes in American Prospect really resonated with me:
“Badinter is tackling here a profound dilemma: how to reconcile the increasingly burdensome responsibilities of parenting with the pursuit of one’s own personal fulfillment. “In a civilization that puts the self first, motherhood is indeed a challenge, even a contradiction,” she writes. But Badinter fails to grapple with the conflict inside women themselves and with what we might call the paradox of selflessness. Sacrificing one’s own interests for the sake of others can be a deep source of fulfillment. (As the late Texas Governor Ann Richards once said, “Why should your life be just about you?”)”
Amen. Sacrificing our own interests for the sake of others is the daily ritual called life, isn’t it? Setting aside the pregnant teen or two, are there really that many women out there who willingly get pregnant and actually don’t realize that what’s about to happen is a major life adjustment where you are no longer the most important thing that everything revolves around? And while that is the taxing, draining, exhausting, raw nerve part of parenting, especially very young children, it’s also the rewarding, fulfilling, heart-warming, amazing part about it. They go together, those two extremes. Hence our chronic confusion. The constant push-pull between your own needs and the needs of your child. It is what it is. Look, I’ve called my own kid my oppressor but I still don’t view my life as living under the tyranny of the baby. Get over yourself, is what I want to say about that.
And speaking of getting over yourself, I now call up the Dr Sears view of the world,attachment parenting. I thought there was some really great advice in this month’s Washingtonian article Type-A Parents Run Amok. In terms of attachment parenting and never letting a child cry, Ms. Weaver, a clinical social worker explains that children need to learn to cry and parents need to set boundaries: “kids can really benefit when they’re forced to experience an emotion. Otherwise the message is ‘you have an uncomfortable emotion, which is too hard to live with, so let’s quickly find ways to fix it…children need to learn to tolerate their feelings – to know how to process anger, sadness and frustration.”
Unless as an adult, you go through your days and months and years only experiencing happiness and joy, then isn’t it obvious that though they are tiny small humans, babies and young kids also deserve and benefit from experiencing a range of emotion?
My absolute favorite part of the article was when Dr. Levy, a local pediatrician, said “Sometimes less is more in parenting. Read a magazine while you’re in the playroom.”
Now that’s something I CAN do, Doctor. That makes me mom enough.
So while my kids are playing, I’ll keep reading about all these absurd extreme forms of parenting that my guess is, the tiniest percentage of the American public actually practice, then I’ll send some emails and write some more blogs about it.
Cause I’m that good of a parent. What do you think? Are you mom enough?
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