There has been a whole bunch of yelling on the Internet this week, ever since Time magazine posted a very provocative cover asking “Are You Mom Enough?”
To that, I say: Fuck you and the horse you rode in on, Time magazine.
Am I “mom enough?” FUCK YEAH I AM MOM ENOUGH.
I’m not a researcher when it comes to Life Things. I trust myself, is what it boils down to. I have instincts and intuition and whatever else you want to call it, but I generally trust myself to make the right decision when it comes to Life Things. Well, I do NOW. 20 years ago, not so much.
But that’s kind of it – I made all the wrong decisions when I was younger. ALL of them. I frequently went against my own instincts and my own hunches and listened to the wrong people about what was best for me. To put it mildly, that did not work well.
So, over the years I learned to trust myself. I’m pretty smart, despite all appearances. I still make mistakes, but I do okay most of the time.
When it came time to think about maybe having a baby, I didn’t do jack shit as far as research goes. I didn’t have time, actually. We went from “maaaybe this isn’t a bad idea” to “oh, look: two lines means positive” in two weeks. I mean that absolutely literally. We had JUST started talking about maybe thinking about perhaps considering pulling the goalie. FIRST TRY! It’s the only time in my whole life I’ve been an over-achiever.
While I was pregnant, I used exactly ONE book as my advice-giver. Freddie had purchased a copy of What To Expect When You’re Expecting and I got SO ANNOYED by the tone in which it is written that I threw it across the room. That book is a piece of shit. Ask me about it sometime – I have a good 5-minute stand-up routine about how awful it is.
Instead, I used The Pregnancy Book, by Dr. Sears. This is, surprisingly, my kind of book. It was clear, no-nonsense advice and information about what was happening inside my body. It reminded me to stop drinking (I did), eat better (if you count buffalo chicken and Ben & Jerry’s Vermonty Python as health food, that is) and take my vitamins (I… failed at that).
Since I was so happy with The Pregnancy Book, I got a copy of The Baby Book and spent a few afternoons reading through it in hopes that SOME of the information would sink in before the monster arrived. It’s being touted as the “Attachment Parenting Bible” and whatnot, which… it is, and it isn’t.
Granted, some of it seemed a little extreme, such as the fairly obnoxious hanmmering home of the point that breastfeeding is the bestest bestest bestest thing ever and don’t even CONSIDER formula unless your boobs literally fall off of your body. It’s been awhile and I have long since passed that book along so the details are a bit fuzzy, but… there is a whole section about how Mrs Dr Sears managed to breast-feed their adopted daughter.
That’s… that’s hardcore, y’all.
I agree that breastfeeding is the absolute best thing you can do for a baby. That’s what boobs are FOR, after all. It’s what my body is designed to do. And holy shit, breastfeeding is the best thing EVER for a Slacker Mom such as myself. No mixing of bottles, heating up bottles, washing and sterilizing bottles! Just whip out Right and stick the kid on it! SLACKER MOM FTW.
The other Big Thing that Dr Sears loves is the co-sleeping. I knew from Day 1 that THAT wasn’t happening. On the surface, you’d think the Slacker Mom would looooove the co-sleeping. That, for me, was not the case. You have to make sure the kid is positioned correctly, either with a co-sleeping dingus that attaches to or rolls right up against your bed, or maybe have a bassinet in your room or… whatever. I knew I wasn’t going to be doing that so I didn’t pay attention. At first, it was because Freddie still had to get up and go to work every day and he is grumpy as fuck if he doesn’t get enough sleep. Having a baby in the room would disrupt ALL of us, not just me. So it was easier all around to put her in her crib in her own room and hook up the baby monitor.
I won’t lie – that arrangement sucked balls, especially the first 6-8 weeks. IT SUCKED MY BALLS because I was recovering from a c-section and found myself having to get up 35 times a night to stick a boob into the gaping maw of the Screamy Thing.
Things improved when I made Freddie buy me a TV for the baby’s room. Conan O’Brien became my late-night boyfriend and I watched my Monty Python collection during the day. It’s not surprising to me that when Jillian first started talking, she had a bit of a British accent.
The third Attachment Parenting Tent Pole is “babywearing.” Now… this is kind of not my thing at all. We had a Baby Bjorn and some other wacky sling thing, and the kid hated both of them to the point that she would punch HERSELF in the face in order to get out of it.
Granted, that kid hated a lot of things. But the babywearing never really worked for me. The c-section fucked up my core strength (and six years down the road, I am FINALLY making progress in that area) and standing for long periods of time with a very active tiny Tae-Bo enthusiast was not on. She didn’t mind being carried around, but the minute we tried to wrap her up in something, she would turn into a cat. Have you ever tried to put a cat in a box? Yeah, that.
Out of the Three Major Biggies in AP, I managed to half-assedly do exactly one of them. And even then, I didn’t quite make it to the 1-year “recommended” mark for breastfeeding, much less the extended breastfeeding that Dr Sears really likes to go on about. I made it to 8.5 months, and then she bit me with her wee chompers and that was pretty much THAT. Do I feel “guilty” because I didn’t reach this arbitrary one-year benchmark? No, not at all. I was ready to have my body back. I wanted to be a ME again, instead of a WE. I was ready to be a person again, not just a food source. Ending our nursing relationship was a conscious choice I made, and I felt fine about it then, and I feel fine about it now.
Unfortunately, because I wasn’t working and had no reason to pump or build up a stash of breastmilk (too much effort for a Slacker Mom), once Jillian stopped nursing, my milk production ended and we did switch her to formula for the rest of that first year. What a pain in my ass THAT was. There is so much out there about correctly cleaning and sanitizing and boiling the water first and all that shit when it comes to formula or YOUR BABY WILL DIE. Um. We live in a fairly advanced society – the warnings are a little over-the-top, are they not? I washed baby bottles in the dishwasher (or by hand, if it was too much work to empty the clean dishes out of the dishwasher first. What? IT HAPPENS), used lukewarm tap water, and mixed up formula that way. I don’t think I ever heated up a bottle, which probably accounts for Jillian’s preference for lukewarm food.
NEWSFLASH: Jillian lived!
My friend Avi posted about how Attachment Parenting is the “lazy mom’s” best friend. I agree with her on most points, except for the cloth diapering thing. Disposable diapers, friends. That is the Slacker Mom’s best friend. Cloth diapers are cute and good for the environment (unless they’re not because of the water used and extra laundry blahblahblah – as with co-sleeping, I knew right away that I wasn’t doing cloth diapers), but the laundry. THE LAUNDRY.
Cloth diaper people claim that it’s not that much more laundry. Maybe it isn’t, but I do not enjoy the laundry. Right now I am looking at three hampers and a basket, all overflowing with clean laundry that needs to be folded and put away. They’ve been sitting there since Thursday and will likely still be there on Monday. Keep in mind that I am a stay-at-home mom with only one child. There is no reason why I can’t get the laundry folded except for the fact that I DO NOT LIKE TO DO IT. I knew this about myself when I was pregnant, so I knew cloth diapers were not for me.
So, back to that Time magazine cover. Pardon my French, but that cover photo is FUCKING RETARDED. Yes, we’re not supposed to use the R-word but it really does fit here. It’s retarded in that it is SLOWING PROGRESS. It’s a step back. It is unnecessarily inflammatory and exists solely to sell a shitty magazine that hasn’t been relevant in years. Whoever came up with the idea for it is a fucking genius, though. When was the last time you looked at or gave a shit about Time magazine?
It’s a slap in the face, honestly. It’s a slap in the face and a big “fuck you” to every mom who is just doing her very best. Moms get shit on from all sides, and this photo does not help. My first reaction to seeing it was dismay. DISMAY. I may have even groaned because ugh, SO UNNECESSARY. I hate it. I hate everything about it. Mostly, I hate it because it exploits something that is basically NORMAL. Extended breastfeeding wasn’t for me, but it’s not weird or gross or abnormal or something to giggle at or whatever the hell reaction people are having to that photo (Jason Good puts the discomfort into very smart words). It makes the job of moms who are DOING THEIR BEST just that much harder. It’s a step back. It’s retarded.
Attachment Parenting isn’t for everyone. In fact, I have huge issues with this need to label one’s parenting style. I mean, what the fuck is that about? It’s a kid. Pay attention to it. Common sense will tell you what you need to know about keeping it alive. Done and done. I’d write a book about it but it really does boil down to “pay attention to your kid and trust your instincts.”
Do women do this? Not as much as one might think. There are scads of books and websites out there chock-full of information about what is “right.” Not necessarily what is “best” but what is RIGHT. BZZZT. Wrong answer. There’s not a lot of “right” and “wrong” when it comes to babies. I mean, there are obvious things, like don’t stick it in the washing machine and feed it occasionally (the common sense stuff), but the breast vs bottle debate (for example)? IS BULLSHIT. Do what is best for your baby. YOUR BABY. Not my baby, not the baby down the street, but YOUR BABY. Done and done, no discussion needed.
See what I did there? No discussion needed. I could end the “mommy wars” with this revolutionary knowledge.
We should have more Slacker Moms. More Lazy Moms. More moms who don’t give a fuck what other people think about their parenting and just get on with it. More moms who pay attention to their kids and become adept at reading the kid’s cues and signals to divine what the baby needs (ooh, ATTACHMENT PARENTING STRIVES FOR THIS VERY GOAL OH MY GOD THE UNIVERSE IS A CIRCLE). We should have more moms who can RELAX and chill the fuck out and hand the baby over to Daddy or whatever you choose to call your co-parent, if you have one.
Now that The Jillian is about to turn six, my parenting challenges have mutated. I’m still as much of a Slacker Mom as ever, and I’m sure I will continue to be. The social requirements of a school-aged kid are my biggest obstacle to really slacking as much as I’d like to. I come in contact with all sorts of different moms with different parenting styles than my own, and while I roll my eyes at some of them (I have a 10-minute stand-up routing about the ones who are fanatical about the hand sanitizer gel, for instance), most of them are doing pretty okay. I always ask “do you hang out on any ‘parenting websites’ or do you read any particular parenting books?” And the answer is generally “I don’t have time for that.”
Exactly. I’m busy enough hanging out with my kid to read about the 400 different ways I’m likely fucking up her life for her. We don’t over-think it. We don’t do much research here. We are Slackers.