Saturday, February 12, 2011

You're Doing It Wong

Does anyone else remember that line or even the movie? It's from Mr. Mom, made in 1983 when the whole stay at home dad thing was considered Teh Wacky and Ripe Comedy Fodder.

Anyway, I spend a lot of nights, just before falling asleep reflecting on the fact that I'm pretty sure I'm doing it wrong most of the time. I came to the conclusion that was why I'm so dedicated to breast feeding. It's one of the very few (singular?) times in parenting that you can feel quite confident you are doing it the one best way. There are lots of valid reasons to not breast feed but breastmilk, from a primary caregiver, exposed to the same pathogens the baby is, is really the way the whole baby eating thing is set up to work. Also, at this point, I'm pretty good at pulling it off. I can manage breastfeeding Noah come what may. I have breastfed in bars, in Church, wearing all manner of clothing in all manner of positions in front of pretty much the entirety of humanity. But, after the whole infant nutrition thing, I'm at a complete loss.

First, there is no cut and dry. Sleep-how much, when, where, and how achieved is veritable land mine. Vaccinations, organic vs local vs what's on sale vs homemade, diapering and the whole pthalate thing are industries unto themselves. And these are only the controversies that have arisen in the last few years. Add on the long term parenting ebbs and flow and I'm a complete basket case.

Then there come the many things I am pretty sure I should do but can't figure out how to pull off. For instance, I feel pretty strongly that kids should play outside as often as possible but weather appropriate for a 6 month old is often radically different from what is appropriate for a 4 year old. Also, it gets a little boring to do the monitoring... And, I should be hugging and cuddling Charlie more. I feel perpetually guilty about is since he is a bottomless pit of cuddle need. At the same time, I am touched All The Time by Noah. He still doesn't so much tolerate sleeping alone (a whole area of angst in itself) and doesn't much like being put down in general and then factor in the whole issue of Megan not being so great at the baby on the floor awareness. So, when I say all the time, I mean roughly 20 hours a day in close contact with a small human. The idea of cuddling with another small human sounds great in theory but in actuality, I am soooo touched out. I have to say, I think Erica Jong makes a point with this article, I do feel slightly oppressed by the whole attachment parenting thing. At the same time, I'm not really willing to put up with the hysterical sobbing that has occurred with attempts to not do the attachment parenting method either. I don't think it's the way all kids are but it does seem to be the way mine are wired. And then, I worry that my insecurity about my parenting will lead to my children being less confident. My mind at 2 am is a wonderful place to be...

I try to remind myself that children are actually really resilient. I try to remember that there are lots of ways to be a great mom. I spend a lot of time reminding myself of Babies. I found it to be less than representative of the US style of doing things, if accurate in the broad strokes so I took the other cultures' footage with a grain of salt. But, I also remind myself that if it was at all accurate, kids in Mongolia and Namibia are raised in radically different ways and those cultures haven't collapsed. Once the children become adults, they don't seem to need massive levels of psychotherapy. Although, I will say that I was totally ok with the Namibian style but had a number of qualms about the Mongolian style of parenting. This also makes me wonder what's wrong with me because the general gist of the reviews is that this is simply my overly attentive western thinking but I just can't see to it being ok to leave a baby to by himself for an hour or so while I run errands no matter what the culture- are there no Grandmas in Mongolia? Anyway, I remind myself of all of this; that there are lots of ways to be a fantastic mother. But, I also wind up wondering if other moms feel this way. I wonder if other moms have always felt this way.

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