January 28, 2005

Speaking of feeling guilty...

In the formula cost comments, Kaz mentioned guilt, and I was saying how guilt and parenting go hand in hand.

So now I've got a work email to get out before the kid and I drive to DC, and so I just turned on Nickelodeon. While we use Nick sometimes to hypnotize the kid while we cut her fingernails, this is the first time I've ever used it as a sedative so I can get some work done.

I feel so dirty.


Noggin makes you feel slightly less dirty, FWIW.

a little TV never hurt anyone ... and Noggin has me hooked on Oswald

I had all three kids for the first time the week after Christmas. I was pretty self-righteous about not making it what my sister calls a "film fest" -- but by Thursday, I had caved and we were watching the Fred Levine road-construction tape on one TV and...some other thing in the living room.
But at least the baby got fed. (At least, that's what I told myself, crying over the sink...) (Just kidding about the crying.)

If there's one thing I learned early on in my parenting career (which started about 4 1/2 years ago), it's that the world of parenting styles is almost as radioactive as abortion, gay marriage, and swift boats vs. National Guard service.

I find myself feeling people out carefully to see where in the parenting spectrum they fall before engaging in any kind of substantive discussion of just about anything related to raising children:
Is this person attachment or baby-wise?
Card carrying La Leche League member or feeding the kid Yoo-Hoo at 6 months?
Stay-at-home-or-die or pack the kids off to boarding school and resume the corporate climb?
For fear of saying the wrong thing and setting off a rant or being inundated with unwanted advice.

My wife and I fall squarely in the mushy middle-
breastfeeding as long as possible and practical and then switching to formula- and not feeling guilty about it, no matter what the LLL says.
We play with our kids and read them books and involve them in adult activities, but feel no pangs about sticking them in the swing (or Neglect-o-matic, as we call it) or letting them watch Thomas or Maisy so we can get some real work done ar just have a mental health break.

The other side of being in the mushy middle is that I don't feel it incumbent on me to point out other parent's percieved failings. (short of outright abuse) I have never seen so much self-righteousness as what is in various postings on websites, about everything from BF vs. formula to schools, play, midwife vs. hospital, food, blah, blah, blah. I am conviced that a lot of these people haunt the message boards because they have lost all their friends since they became parental pontificators. The flip side of that is the put-upon, usually new, parent who has become wracked with guilt about their supposed failings and horrible damage they are inflicting on their offspring.

Let's face it, none of us had to take a test that judged our parental fitness before we got to take home our bundles from the hosptial (or birthing center, see the kind of self-editing I have to engage in?)

Hey, Greg, I bet you didn't think your short post would inspire a long comment like this, right? This is somewhat a hang-over from the formula argy-bargy from earlier in the week, though.

Anyway, FWIW.

The Neglect-O-Matic? I love it!
One place that's especially fraught is talking about child-rearing with siblings & in-laws. We all had the same parents, yet everyone's doing things differently -- or, worse, taking advice and then finding that one size doesn't fit all.

This is the only place I've ever felt anonymous enough to tell the world that I hated BF'ing after the first......like....15 minutes. Not to mention I was basically subsaharan throughout all of my children! This gives me an easy out, but WOW...when my granola crunching, vitamin popping mother found out I was stuffing 'les enfant' with formula, the proverbial 's' hit the fan!

But, on the topic of guilt, yes yes and yes again! I worry/feel guilt all the time about things like....when I pick my kids up at school, am I the mom who everyone gets all wide-eyed about and then sympathizes with my spawn?! When my kids open their lunches and they have 'healthy choices' infront of them, do other kids sneer? Does that fact that we don't have cable television make my kids, like, some kind of laughing stock!! AM I THE MOTHER IN THAT MOVIE...you know, the one about a boy?

Don't feel dirty however, just think of all those kids in Korea, who get left on a blanket with a bunch of dogs to mind them, while the parents 'japanamate' for a living.....

that would be enfant with an 's'

I love the name Neglect-o-matic! We've already given ours away, though -- he's too big for it, alas.

I pretty much expect that everyone who reads/writes/comments on a parenting blog is doing the best they can. Maybe a naive take, and I'm sorry I got so indignant with TC about her approach, which seemed like assuming everyone was lazy and/or stupid, if not evil.

Hey Chris, if you hadn't tried to talk her off the ledge, I would have had to go medieval on her.

Check the tone and content of one of her comments again:
"I disagree on the whole idea that you can't "expect" a woman to breastfeed. Of course we should expect a woman to breastfeed--if she's physically able to do so. It's best for the baby, after all.
Doctors, formula manufacturers, health depts and employers need to get rid of their attitude that formula is an acceptable alternative. It's not."

Picture if you will, what she would have posted if a *man* had posted something like:
"I disagree with the whole idea that you can't "expect" a woman to stay home and raise her child. Of course we should expect a woman to give up her career for the sake of her children--if she's mentally able to do so. It's best for the baby, after all.
Feminists, liberals, and employers need to get rid of their attitude that working mothers are an acceptable alternative. They are not."


On the other hand, perhaps I shouldn't be dredging up painful memories from such a long time ago as yesterday. We have all grown so much since then.

I'm still not giving you my Bud Light, JJ

That's ok greg, I've done work while my son plays coo-coo through our window with the crossing guard. I mean, I could see him and everything... that counts for something right?


That has been said. By a woman, no less: Mary Eberstadt "Home-Alone America: the hidden toll of day-care, behavioral drugs, daycare and other Parent Substitutes." Since this is a family blog, I won't say what I think about Mary, who clearly works too...WRITING A BOOK. I'm neglecting my kid right now. Thanks a lot Greg. (Safe drive down here...)

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