All or nothing is dumb
We all know there are only two kinds of moms, right?
There are moms who:
- Give birth at home
- Use cloth diapers
- Breastfeed their children until they get their drivers license
- Don’t circumcise
- Stay at home
- Make all their baby food from scratch
- Only wear their babies and never put them down
- Replace “discipline” with “gentle consequences” (read: let their kids go crazy anytime, anywhere)
These women also…
- Don’t use nursing covers
- Don’t shave their legs
- Are holier than thou
And then there are moms who:
- Give birth in the hospital, probably via cesarean
- Formula feed or bottle feed with breast milk
- Are career driven (vs. family driven) and put their kids in daycare within 6 weeks (by choice)
- Use disposable diapers
- Only use strollers
These women are also…
- Care more about their appearance/work life/personal success than their family
And never the twain shall meet!
You guys, this is so crazy.
Whenever someone asks me if we are “attachment parents” or if we co-sleep (which I have spread all over the internet but rarely talk about in person), I am always at a loss for what to say. Yes, I think attachment parenting is great and yes, I think we would qualify in a lot of respects. But I hesitate because I wonder what they are really asking and usually it is not just “do you agree with and follow the 8 principles of attachment parenting”? The person asking probably couldn’t name one principle of attachment parenting.
They could be asking if they have found a safe place to talk about their own attachment ways. They could be asking if I’m “one of THOSE crazy moms”. They could be waiting for an opportunity to tell me that co-sleeping is dangerous. They could be asking about any of the two lists above, without getting too specific. Certain parenting terms have become so broad and meaning-laden that they feel like land mines.
They want to put me in a category in their head. The right file folder. This is normal. It is human to need to categorize things. One of the first independent tasks an infant has is to start the process of categorizing: safe and unsafe, edible and inedible, hard and soft, person with boobs who feeds me, person without (or with) boobs who doesn’t feed me. It’s what we do.
However, as adults, we have the choice to let these categories be fluid, complicated, overlapping and flexible. We don’t need to know what someone’s entire parenting ethos is in order to make conversation at the playground or become good friends. We can, hopefully, hold lots of information about one mother or family in our heads at the same time.
You know what? I am the babywearing educator at Birth and Beyond but I don’t always wear my baby!! I love to carry her but she is freaking heavy as all get out and it is physically impossible for me to wear her as much as I’d like to. I love my Ergo and my german woven wrap but I also love my stroller. I like cloth diapers (and have an enormous number of them – all colors, kinds and sizes) but I have yet to find one that works at night and I’m so tired of changing the sheet, so we use a disposable at night.
I know two mamas (one stay at home, one back to work) who recently had their second children and ditched cloth diapering. As I said to one – if you can get your underwear on in the morning and keep everybody fed, you’re ahead in my book with two kids. Forget all that extra laundry! I also have had clients who don’t tell anyone they had a homebirth. It’s a joy and a carefully planned choice for their family, but they don’t think it meshes with their parenting style (as perceived by their friends and family), or they worry they’ll be categorized incorrectly by admitting their birth location.
I’m about to blow your minds, people. You can give birth at home and grow a thriving baby with formula. You can give birth in the hospital with a midwife and bring that baby home to sleep in your bed. You can wear your baby during the day and sleep them in a crib at night. You can give your baby exclusively your own milk, exclusively in bottles. You can go back to work full time and leave your son intact. There are women who try super hard for a vaginal delivery but end up having no choice but to birth by cesarean, there are women who want an epidural but have to “go natural” because there isn’t time for one and there are women who elect to schedule cesarean – and all are valid choices. There are women would would love to stay home but for whom it is financially untenable and women who could afford it but like the mental exercise, adult socializing and away-from-home time they get by parenting AND working out of the home.
So, do me a favor. Next time you want to know something about another parents, ask them about that thing. Be specific. Don’t assume. Keep an open mind.