The Mommy Wars

The Mommy Wars

Before I became a mother, I had a vague idea of what parents did. Feed child, clothe child, try to keep child from beating up other children. It was one of those subjects that I was woefully but blissfully ignorant of – I really didn’t have much use for information like which brand of diapers was best or how you need to move like a frickin ninja to escape infant projectile vomit.

I am still far from an expert, but after I had kids, I crossed over to the Other Side. No, not Narnia. The Other Side of the gap that separates parents from non-parents. The side filled with tiny onesies and 800 sets of plastic keys (seriously, do they even work in the plastic cars? Then WHAT IS THE POINT) and dogs that whisper “Hug meeee” at four in the morning when you’re walking to the bathroom. You can look behind you and see the non-parent side for a little while. Then Dora the Explorer asks you to help her find her map and before you know it the non-parent side is nothing more than a distant memory.

The parent side has lots of surprises. You learn words like “Wubanub” and “cluster feeding” and, in our case, “hyerbilirubenimia.” But one of the most unexpected surprises I encountered was the Mommy Wars. If you’re not familiar, the Mommy Wars is an ongoing battle between mothers (and occasionally fathers) over various methods of parenting. For example: formula feeding vs. breastfeeding, strollers vs. babywearing, cloth diapers vs. disposables, velociraptor vs. t-rex, etc etc. I tend to bop through life in a cloud of glitter and Skittles and assume everyone does the same, so I was really surprised to see how often these issues popped up, not to mention the intensity of the arguments they caused. Articles are flung left and right; everyone from psychologists to school teachers to children’s birthday clowns seems to have a scientific opinion on whether letting your baby sleep in your bed will scar him for life. Sometimes people start snapping their fingers and singing and that’s when you know that it just got real.

As much as I love a good argument, I found myself avoiding these particular fights as I delved into research of my own (fine, as I copied every single thing my sister did). Not because I was offended. Not because I wanted to interview those birthday clowns for myself to see if their science was accurate. No, my avoidance was due to something much simpler. Something that I think has the potential to end these Mommy Wars forever. Are you ready for this incredible secret? Here you go:

Apathy.

Yes. Apathy. I do. not. care. I do not care if you feed your child formula. I do not care if you breastfeed your child. I do not care if your child only eats hot sauce. Not because I am a serene, peace-loving person who can rise above such petty conflicts as I practice yoga in my meditation garden. I am just too lazy to care. I am tired. I am busy. I am constantly losing one of my children. So at the end of the day, whether you strap your baby to your back in a pretty wrap or with several socks tied together, I’m cool with it. Just don’t drop the kid because that’s not cool. I mean, I probably wouldn’t turn you in or anything. Actually, just writing about it has pretty much sapped my energy so go ahead and drop little Timmy; I won’t tell.

This isn’t a humble brag where I toot my own lazy horn and show you how I win all the Mommy Wars due to my lack of judging others and indifference to others’ judgment of me. Despite the awkward, chaotic mess that is my daily interaction with people, I do care what other people think of me. I’m only human. But I am a lazy human, and while I have tried hard to get worked up over the fact that Sally Smith doesn’t believe in disposable diapers…eh. What do I care? Is Sally at my house, throwing away my diapers and forcing me to use cloth ones? Has she hired Tonya Harding to bash me in the knee so I can say a lot of embarrassing things on national television that will follow me forever? No? Then…eh. Sally can have her cloth diapers and I can have my disposable ones and somehow I think the world will keep turning.

So, parents and people everywhere – join me on the Other Other Side. The side where you always feel accomplished because your kids are alive at the end of the day and that’s really all you were going for. The side where all your decisions are right because no one was paying attention to them anyway. You don’t even have to put on real pants. Take the plunge. Cross over. Drop your cares and worries at the gate – your toddler or dog will probably eat them and then you won’t even have to step over them.

Apathy: The real future of parenting. I’d put that on a t-shirt, but…eh.

Clearly my parenting is superior to yours.

It’s Totally Different

It’s Totally Different

I recently acquired a second child. I know. I also questioned the wisdom of letting me raise a second child but it’s too late now. Plus she is really cute and smells like strawberries so I want to keep her. And sniff her. All the time.

What were we talking about? Oh, right. Children.

In a true representation of my attitude about parenting, I was not that excited to find out I was having a second child. I wasn’t sad or mad. Mostly surprised. And panicked. So, so panicked. The kind of panic you feel when you realize you have to make a sacrifice to the porcelain throne while you’re in the middle of the check-out lane at the grocery store with a week’s worth of food and a child who is trying to eat the handle of the buggy.

But I had a good reason. Most people who read my posts know that my first child (the afore-mentioned buggy-eater) was born very early at 26 weeks and spent a long time in the hospital fighting for his life. My husband and I had decided to wait for several years to even discuss a second child. Except then God was all “LOL you guys are totes hilarious” and we found out we were going to be parents for the second time in as many years. Cue the panic.

Everyone said the same thing: “It will be totally different.” The odds of the same thing happening with this pregnancy that had happened the first time were probably pretty low. The doctors, friends, family members – they all repeated that to me over and over. It will be totally different. And as things progressed and continued to go well, I believed it. This time would be totally different. None of the fear, no NICU stay, no wondering when my baby would be home, no driving back and forth to the hospital every day. This time, I promised myself, would be great.

And then I realized that I didn’t like that attitude very much. Not that I wanted this baby to stay in the NICU or have any problems, but I was starting to look at my experience with Josh as a bad thing. Slowly but surely I had separated the birth experiences of my children into Things You Never Ever Want To Happen and The Super Best Thing Ever Yay For My Baby. You can guess which one goes in which category. And I really started to hate that distinction.

I get asked all the time if I would change Josh’s circumstances at the time of his birth and during his hospital stay. I always answer no, and that is the honest truth. But over the last few months I began to realize that not only would I not change it; I want to celebrate it. I want to shout from the rooftops that while it didn’t go the way I had planned, I still got to meet my beautiful baby boy and fell in love with him from the get-go. I want to be just as thrilled over his birthday as I am with Jenna’s. When people ask me his age, I want to give his real one, the one that goes with the birthday we will celebrate for years to come as we remember what a blessing he is. I want him to know that even though it was hard, the day he was born was one of the best of my life, right up there with my wedding day and the day Gilmore Girls premiered.

It doesn’t bother me that people remind me how different the experience with each of my children was. It was my own attitude about the situation that bothered me the most. Was it different this time? Yes, so incredibly different. Was it better this time? Not even a little. It was just as exciting, just as amazing, and just as incredible the second time around. Because the thing about having kids is that there are ups and downs and everything in between, and you never really know what lies ahead of you. And at the end of the day none of that matters anyway. All that matters is that on your child’s birthday, whether he celebrates it in the NICU or asleep in your arms, you have something so fantastic that the rest just kind of fades away. That’s is what I want to remember about both of my children. I never want to forget the rest because it’s important, too. But the most important thing I can ever take away from both of my experiences is how amazing it was to see them with my own eyes for the first time and feel a love so deep and immeasurable that I knew I was a goner from the very first seconds of their lives.

So, yes. This time around it has been totally different. I wouldn’t have it any other way…except for how it was the first time.