Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Attachment Parenting: America's Newest Westboro Baptist Church?

So reactions to this blog post are popping up all over my Facebook news feed. It was thoughtfully written and I honestly feel like if I met the author in person, we would become fast friends. Everything she says is absolutely true. One "crunchy" Facebook group I am a part of actually IMPLODED and a bunch of us broke off and created a NEW group. Luckily, this new group is extremely supportive, welcoming, and friendly. I think maybe it is because it has remained relatively small, so a real community of trust has been created. Unfortunately, a lot of groups kind of spiral out of control and there seem to be power struggles over who can be the meanest, crunchiest badass mama. It's just not necessary and it's detrimental to the community as a whole.

However, just as I was about to craft a thoughtful reply, I found this blog post that took all of my words right out of my mouth. Again, wonderfully written with many points that resonated with me. Everything she wrote is also very true. Again, I imagined that the three of us would all be able to meet for tea and chat for hours or meet up at a bar and party all night together and get along just fine.

Since this is America and furthermore this is the internet and I can feel and say whatever I want, what the hell, here's my 2 cents on the discussion:

First of all, what people have to remember is that Attachment Parenting, up until a few years ago, was fairly obscure. Like anything else, it started more like a movement. Parents reaching out for and to support other like-minded parents. They were looking for something more than the mainstream theories, answers, and strategies they were hearing from parenting books, magazines, news stories, pediatricians, etc. More and more parents started to feel at home with the values and ideals of this movement. Then it gained media attention. It came under attack and whenever someone spoke out to defend it, it came across as defensive and even combative. So yes, I do think there are many APs who are so tired of defending their beliefs that they have become a little bitter and snarky. But I understand that.

I also think that there are some flagships of AP that have to be understood and respected. Consider these statements:

"I'm a Muslim but I eat pork."
"I'm on a gluten-free diet but I eat white bread."
"I'm gay but I only date members of the opposite sex."
"I'm a vegan but I eat meat."
"I'm Jewish but I celebrate Christmas and Easter."
"I'm pro-life but I get abortions."
"I'm a Christian but I pray to Satan."

These things sound a little strange. Yes, there are people who are like this, but it's not generally accepted. It is atypical. I think it is okay to have some non-negotiable beliefs. America has taken the "different strokes for different folks" notion to the extreme. It's like no one believes in anything but everyone believes in everything nowadays. What is that? I don't think I am a bad person for having gut feelings that tell me some things are right and some things are wrong.

Just like Tea Partiers who truly feel in their hearts that any American should have unrestricted access to any and all firearms, I believe that there are some things that are AP and some that are not. When people say "I practice AP but we did CIO with our children" it sounds as warped to me as the other statements I have listed above. So if some of those non-negotiables don't jive with your parenting style, it's not that we are being judgemental assholes, it's that you are not really AP. And that's okay!

That being said, I do believe there are a TON of negotiables and variables when it comes to good parenting. For example, an area I know that I am weak in is discipline. I have gotten some great suggestions from non-AP friends. Also, I'm always worried that I don't have Lydia involved in enough activities. I have non-AP friends that have their kids in swim and dance, etc. and I'm like "Ah crap, I suck."

Look, I know most moms really have the best intentions at heart. Most women do not set out to purposely be crappy moms. We ask around, we do our research, we observe those around us and figure out what would work for us. Let's just be honest with ourselves about what works for us. AP is starting to cast a pretty wide net. It's becoming "I don't hit my kids and use cloth diapers so I must be AP" and I think some hardcore APers are becoming irritated by that.

Disclaimer - I'm not saying that EITHER of those archetypes is me. Please. I'm just trying to discern why there seems to be an element of hostility in these "crunchy mom" groups these days. Maybe subscribing to AP is kind of like a religion, and that's okay, too! People are passionate and sensitive about truths they hold dear. Just like the Seinfeld episode about the dentist who converts to Judaism and Jerry is miffed because he feels like it's inappropriate for him to make Jew jokes, there are a lot of people who there who are not even semi-crunchy but claiming crunchiness and ruffling the feathers of diehard APers.

Again, this is not my passing judgement as a devout APer or an AP outsider. These are the musings of an objective third party from conversations I engage in with both parties. I want to high-five all moms out there who lovingly guide, protect, encourage, and teach their children everyday. Regardless of your affiliation, as long as your kids come first, I consider you a sister. Can I get an amen?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Breastfeeding Could Save the Lives of 830,000 Babies a Year

Breastfeeding Could Save the Lives of 830,000 Babies a Year

I saw this article posted on my Facebook feed and gave it a read. I felt that it was well-written, fair, and made good, factual points. The I made the mistake of reading the comments. WHY, OH WHY would I do that to myself???

Whenever you read the comments section of ANY article, it ruins the entire article. Want to know why? Because you don't need to take an IQ test or even a general knowledge test to comment on an article. The most informed or most qualified people don't leave comments. The people with the biggest freaking mouths leave comments. They NEVER have anything nice to say. They NEVER agree with anything the article has to say. Why did they even read it? It's as if they read it SOLELY so they can be armed with the ability to make a negative comment! I don't read articles I am not interested in. I don't want to read articles that are going to make me upset. Apparently, I am unique in that regard. It seems that people LOVE to read articles that will piss them off so that they can quickly skip to the comments section to holler about how truly pissed off they are.

This article stated facts, medical truths. Its sole purpose is to educate the public on a reality that they may not realize. Breastfeeding provides immunities that formula does not. That is a fact. Hospitals and doctors offices are wooed and compinsated for  pushing particalar brands of formula in their offices. That is a fact. And that can confuse a woman who is not well-informed on breastfeeding and is trying to decide what to do for her baby.

Women who did not breastfeed are quick to get defensive about their perceived attack on formula-feeding mothers. Here's the reality. American society, on the whole, is in complete support of women who FF. That's why they don't need to write articles or create groups to defend themselves. When a woman sits down to feed her baby a bottle in public, people smile. When a woman sits down to BF her baby in public, people avoid eye contact, point and whisper to each other, mutter to themselves, roll their eyes, or gawk. Who's being attacked now? Believe me because I am living it right now. Nobody feels compelled to stop a woman FFing in public to ask them "Don't you know it is better to BF your baby?" But plenty of people stop a woman BFing in public to ask them "Do you have to do that HERE, NOW?"

If a FFing mama reads this article and feels offended, I believe that she is not comfortable with the choice she made. When I read articles about the benefits of cry-it-out, for example, I am left feeling sad for those babies and angry at doctors for giving trusting women misinformation. I do NOT feel the need to berate and belitte others and defend my own choices to go to my baby when he cries because I am confident in the choices I have made as a parent. When I find myself getting defensive about something, I check myself and realize it is because I am second guessing the choices I have made. I am feeling insecure and lashing out. When I read these scathing comments telling BFing mothers to get off their high horses and stop making us FFing moms feel bad about our way of parenting all I can think about is how insecure they sound.

If you absolutely HAD to FF, then there is no use in feeling or need to feel badly about it. Feeding your child is a necessity so you made the right call! We all have made poor eating decisions when pressed for time and/or money and/or convenience. Sometimes we have literally had no other choice. However, I am not going to pretend that that fast food taco was a better choice than a salad made from organically and locally grown vegetables, no matter how desperate I was/am. It is a FACT that one is healthier than other. The fact that I didn't have access to one does not change that and should not make me angry at those who DID have access.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent" and that is absolutely true. If you had really wanted to BF and were unable, I am very sorry. It is truly a shame and unfair and I am sorry. However, it should not have to stop me from declaring that BFing is best. Because it is. That's a fact.

But another fact is that you can still be an EXCELLENT mother even if you had to FF. Trust me, we all know that.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

apologies, excuses, and embarrassment

Well, that did NOT work out at all! I had really resolved to write more frequently here but time just seems to slip through my fingers every day! I can only hope that my life will eventually settle into some sort of routine where there will be a space to write, at least a little bit, a couple times a week.

Obstacles:

1. I am STILL working on my Bradley Method birth educator academic package. I had to apply for an extension. They were very understanding and flexible, but it was frustrating and embarrassing to have to ask. As it stands, I am still working on the outline of one final book, but it is very long! I also need to interview 2 hospital employees (employed at two DIFFERENT hospitals in their labor and delivery wing) and ask them a LONG list of questions (created by the academy, not I). The reasons my Bradley work is not done coincides with why I have no time to write in this blog...

2. We are STILL attending to legal affairs of my father's estate. He passed away very suddenly in early October and I was named executor of his estate in January. There have been an absolute myriad of issues to deal with including, but not limited to, 1 very FULL house, 3 cars, my underage brother's trust, and a lawyer who makes $225 per HOUR.

3. Elliott still does not sleep through the night. He is 9 months old. I have not slept through the night in 9 months. That is a very long time and I am very tired. That is not to say that we have not made any headway. There have been improvements, there have. Thanks to a couple Elizabeth Pantley books, we are on a nice, consistant nap schedule, he does not need to be nursed to sleep, and does sleep in a crib for most of the night. Those books have really been a huge help. Our biggest problem is that he can't manage to STAY asleep, not mater how many times he GETS to sleep. We have literally tried everything. I have taken him to a reflexologist and a chiropractor. We have gas drops and Tylenol and teething tablets and gripe water. Yes, he is teething. He is ALWAYS teething. He's a baby. Now I am starting to sound as cranky as I feel.

4. There was a flu epidemic in our city. Luckily, my kids only had mild case of bronchitis. Jeff and I both got the stomach bug version. However, Jeff's mother was VERY ill and it was scary. Then, as soon as she started to feel better, Jeff's grandmother's condition started to deteriorate - not from the flu, she has been sickly for years. She was in the hospital for a while, then a rehab facility, and then hospice, all in about the span of a month. It was a rollercoaster and it meant family in from out of town and family obligations in that regard.

So this post is a big apology but also a promise to continue to work toward doing better. What will be so awesome is that when my Bradley training is complete, I hope to use this blog in conjunction with my teaching, so I will pack it full of resources for all to enjoy as well as anecdotes that I hope will lead to questions, answers, and discussions that will launch this blog into basically writing itself!

In other news, my birthday is this coming Friday. Nothing really special planned but it's so great how birthdays are always a good excuse to spend time with family and friends and indulge in some rich foods. I know Jeff plans to take our little family out for dinner on my actual birthday night. He has even taken the day off work, which is so thoughtful and special. The Sunday after we are having a dinner with my mother, brother, and my brother's girlfriend that my brother is COOKING FOR ME! And I know a couple girlfriends and I are going to get together one night this coming week for Mexican food at one of my favorite fun restaurants in this city. So I have some fun things to look forward to!

Also, this weekend is the semi-annual Luvaboos Consignment Sale! I had an absolute blast last time and found some great deals. I am selling some diapers and gear again, so hopefully it will be purchased so I can, in turn, purchase some new things we need! DH has begged me to streamline our CD stash, since I went a little crazy buying one or two of many different brands to "try out". He can't help do the laundry because he doesn't know which inserts go where, etc. He likes the Charlie Bananas, so I did stock up on some of those. We have probably 8 of those now but half of them are sized, so I will need to get the next size up in a couple months. I fell in love with Bamboozles but DH insists that DS does not like fitteds because they do not wick away moisture enough. I thought a fair compromise then was to buy a lot of 7 Easyfits. (DH does not know this yet, but after I sell off a bunch of the other random diapers that are bothering him, it will be all good. Plus, these do not need to be "stuffed" per se, so how can he be mad, right?)

I also started a local diaper swap community on Facebook just recently. So far, we have over 80 memebers! I am on a couple nationwide diaper swap pages on Facebook that are VERY active but with the recent hike in shipping costs, it's just not worth it anymore, unless I were looking for a very specific print. I am happy with how well received it has been within our community and I have even been able to sell a few diapers already off of it!

Have a blessed day!