Parenting, The Most Controversial Thing I Do

Saw this post from The DadaBase on Twitter over my lunch hour.  Title: “Parenting is the Most Controversial Thing I Do, Apparently”

Now, the article itself isn’t what I thought it would be about. Rather, it’s a rebuttal from some backlash this guy’s gotten from some recent posts.  But, wow.  HELLO thought-starter!

Merely reading the title of this post sent about 10 different trains of thought from the station.  Because, holy lord is it true.  It’s rare to have a literal and metaphorical fundamental truth such as this:

During pregnancy, you seriously have to don some big girl panties.

Something happens once you’re with child.  Your choices – both big and life-changing as well as small and rather unimportant – are no longer between you and God.  Nope.  The general public owns you, or so they think.  This is such a universal occurence that some philanthropist somewhere has had to have done studies on it.

I distinctly remember a sandwich artist at Subway telling an 8-months-pregnant me that I should get my sandwich toasted – as she stared at my belly.   Andy physically took two steps away from me.  I sweetly (kinda) said that my doctor said it was okay.  An unusually calm response, given my preferred choice of unhinging my jaw and demanding in a demon-like voice that she turn over the sandwich.  I have proper social graces.  (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

But lunch meat is such a small deal.  No, as parents, we have to make a gazillion choices.

  • Do I sleep train?  Or not?
  • Foam crib mattress or springs?
  • Go back to work or stay home?
  • Do I use a crib bumper?
  • The baby will LITERALLY only sleep on her stomach.  Do I risk SIDS – or forego sleep for the next six months?
  • Travel system or stroller frame?
  • Infant seat or convertible carseat?
  • Diaper Genie or Diaper Dekor?
  • Breastfeed or formula-feed?
  • Daycare or nanny?
  • Start potty training now or wait?
  • Make my own baby food or buy it?
  • Organic or not?
  • Cloth diaper or disposable diaper?
  • Co-sleep or make them sleep in their nursery?

No wonder newly-expecting families get stressed, right?  Now, imagine you’ve made all those decisions.  Everyone who has been through this before has too.  And odds are your friends, family, or checkout lady at the grocery store didn’t make those same decisions.  Not all of them at least.

Aaaaaaand CUE THE DEFENSIVE MODE.

Since we all know that we are smart people – and we have all lived through this before, we consider ourselves experts.  Did you choose something different from the thing that worked so well for me and my child?  You foolish thing.  You clearly will regret this.  I will tell you to your face or wait silently in anticipation of the day you come back and admit your naivete. I’ll venture to say, we’ve all done that as a parent toward another parent, right?

I had a working mom sum up the ‘should I work or not?’ conundrum to me so well, when she said, “There is no decision that mothers are more defensive of than whether or not they chose to return to work.” So true right? Working moms have a list of reasons they came back to work. Stay-at-home moms have a list of reasons they stayed home. At the ready. I could list mine off right now.

Can we stay the kneejerk reaction to judge and remember that each family has different values, and that every child has different needs?  That each generation makes the best decisions they can with the information that they have?

I try to.  Most times it ends with me internalizing judgement or commiserating with Andy over the dinner table.  Maybe we’re just trying to validate our own choices?  Maybe the proliferation of options has us all questioning whether we did the best thing.  Maybe by writing this, I’ll make some strides in giving other parents a break.  Won’t you?

Comments

  1. GrandmaP says:

    Wow, this is a big blog. Big in terms of really wrestling with the platform we use as parents wrestling with the big and little issues. After navigating with some success, it is SO easy to “lock on” to the tried and true. The thing is, today’s parents are in a much different social, work and arguably, economic environment than their parents were. Your grandparents were Tremendous (note the capital T) at non-judgmental support for us, and that actually was one of our parental foundation stones. When we’d get too stressed, overworked, too – anything – we’d reach out and they would be there, each in their own individual ways to cheer us on. We owe them so much!

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