Month 33: Unperfect Practicality

Sometimes we need someone to say that dirt is okay and to show us that mud is awesome.

So, I was reading a blogger today expressed that she felt like she needed to be a perfect parent and resentment over the choices she made to breastfeed, cosleep, homeschool, baby wear, EC, etc. under that “perfection” and the pressure and added stress from a controlling husband.  She felt like she was trained to be at everyone’s beck and call.

Oh my.

It’s a awful thing to have a spouse and community and/or family putting a lot of pressure on someone to be “perfect”.  That can suck the happy out of Disneyland no matter what you do.    I don’t think there is joy in that situation even if one strollered and never babywore, diapered 3 years, bought the latest in baby fashion, or bought into the best exclusive preschool.   Soul suckers in one’s life still find a way to steal  or spit in your cheerios.

Children in general take a whole lot of commitment and an enormous amount of time no matter what!    The investment of time just comes with the territory.      I don’t mouth feed my baby like Alicia Silverstone because it wouldn’t make me happy to do so,  not that I think anything is wrong with it or that I think I’m better or she’s better.  It makes them both happy, it harms none and that’s what matters.  Though, I admit, I share grapes out of my mouth with my kids (I peel the flesh away from the skin with my teeth while in my mouth  and would give my then under 15 month old daughter the meaty bit with my fingers, and I occasionally still do it if  I am getting begged and I refuse to give up my whole share to the food hoover).  No one told me to do that and I didn’t read about it…I just did it. No reason other than it was easier than getting up for a knife.

Babywearing, EC, breastfeeding, BLW, cosleeping, unschooling…these aren’t strange dogmas…they are merely lost arts modern parents are trying to reclaim in a world that thinks it is weird and assumes you want to be perfect.   They are things parents of yore did because it was practical, free, and made them happy!     Children learned through play and watching adults , EC in a world without diapers just made sense, breastfeeding was something everyone did because that’s how babies eat, families slept together for warmth and safety, they wore babies to keep their hands free and keep them safe.

I don’t do things because I want to parent perfect (what does that even mean!?) or because I am pressured to, but because babywearing is easier than lugging around a heavy stroller packed in my teeny tiny car and it keeps my hands free  (I have a jogging stroller specifically for jogging because I am not getting naturalized exercise); I breastfeed because I can, it is free and doesn’t require me to wash bottles, buy or carry formula;  I use old fashioned cloth diapers because I hate the smell of disposables, they are low cost, and have multi-uses; I EC because I can see when my babies have to pee and it is just easier than changing a diaper or trying to later wrestle a 30lb 2 year old into one, it lightens the load I have to carry, extends the baby wardrobe and extends the functionality of my cheap prefolds, and I hate poop scraping;   I follow babyled solids and don’t do purees because frankly I am lazy and cheap…I don’t want to buy jars, don’t like how they taste, and don’t want to spend an afternoon pulverizing mush in a blender either — so I give what we eat.    I co-sleep because I don’t want to get up in the middle of the night and I…like it — simple as that.

It’s not a spiritual ritual for me.  It’s not a philosophical set of rules I follow.  I am not trying to please anyone. It’s practicality.  It feels good.   I get strange looks sometimes for putting my baby on the floor rather than in a bouncer — I don’t have room or money for those things (to unforeseen benefit).  The floor works nicely and they can’t roll off.  LOL!   I don’t think I do “more” than your average parent or invest more time.      I am always looking for ways to make my life less complicated.     Learning something new might be complex at first, but experience tells me that short term investment nets long term gains.

It’s complicated only if we don’t let it happen.

I think the blogger was so right in saying that parents have lost their way in being confident in themselves and enjoying their kids and do things in a way because they like it and it makes sense for them, not because they are told to do it, or that’s the way it is done, or feel like they have no choice or support.   We’ve lost the ability at times to hear advice neutrally and take it or leave it as we like at our leisure.

Why the competition aura?  Most of it is artificial and taking things the wrong way.  Happy people like to spread the news of what they learned.   Humans love to share and enjoy attention.   Take a look at any playground and listen for the, “look at what I can do!”   from little excited voices.  Do we ever really outgrow that?    A child doesn’t mean “I am better than all of you,”  they are saying, “look what I have discovered, I have learned something new, who will join me, I can help!”

I think most of us are just lonely and feel like if we express joy in what we do, we might sound like a goody-two-shoes, know-it-all, perfect-parent-wanna-be.  We don’t often get a chance to grow up in the company of other women as support and most of us learn parenting on the fly.  We gain experience isolated, silently observing, whispering, and with trepidation.     That pressure often bursts out online in one topic rambles the moment you find like minds because the relief is just so great!    It changes from feeling like you are selling illegal goods in a seedy alley, to a collective,  “Ahhhhhhhh!  So you pee in the shower too!?”

I think learning and following your instincts is a good thing, but there is a lot of static out there getting in the way of letting us … dare I say … play it out.

It’s a pity that the joy is sucked out of everything these days.    I hope my blogs on EC shows just how delightfully unperfect it is and that I am far from perfect!   There are days I want to make my reader’s laugh, or be less skittish.   Sometimes I want something crazy to happen so I can use a phrase like Poop de Grassy — it’s a shame such a cheesy pun hasn’t been used yet in context.  I just want to ramble, share my toys and pass it on.

Tag. You’re it!

Visit Brother Blog:  Pottytunities for Two

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Posted on July 12, 2012, in Parenting, Potty Training, Toddlers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. What a coincidence! I was just talking to my mom–who was treated like some kind of crazy person for breastfeeding, baby wearing, and homeschooling her children twenty years ago–about how nice it would be NOT to feel like the circus sideshow at every mommy group I attend. I can’t talk about my baby’s growth because it makes mommies with little babies feel inadequate, I can’t talk about EC because nobody gets it, I can’t talk about the whole “solids” thing because then I have to get into how I don’t really trust the AAP or AMA guidelines. So I do a lot of nodding and smiling. I wish I could help mommies who’s stupid doctors told them they weren’t producing enough milk, but when the baby is three month’s old, what’s the point? I would love to share what I know about mothering with new mommies who I know need the support, but so many times I feel like they look at me and see some ideological nut case.

    Occasionally I meet a wonderful mommy who has…well, evolved. She’s so laid back about all the little things that worry first time mommies. Two year old with a pacey? No big deal. Four month old not rolling over? No big deal. Homeschooling? No big deal. It’s just how we roll. She’s so secure that I can tell her whatever is going on with us without feeling like I’m going to step on her toes or make her feel bad. Because believe me, I do not want to hurt any mommy’s feelings! I know it’s a hard job! I can also tell when a mommy is doing her best for her family.

    Ok rant over. Thanks for the fantastic post. I love reading your stuff and you’re such a great encouragement to me! If you ever wonder if your blog is reaching folks, I want you to know you make a difference in my mothering journey. Keep writing!

  2. I love it! I’m into baby wearing, co sleeping breastfeeding, EC, all those things and what I’ve realized is that it’s not just good for you and your baby, but it’s far too easy! How did our society go and make things so complicated by getting rid of the very simplest and purest forms of parenting?

  3. Totally with you re: lazy attachment parenting mom.

    It is difficult to get started, but once the initial learning curve is climbed breastfeeding, co-sleeping etc. is the lazy way to parent. Breastfeeding a toddler–even more so. Need to discipline your child? Stick a boob in him and off comes a happier, gentler child. Bust your knee? Stick a boob in him and the pain disappears.

    A mother of a child who still wakes up many times during the night, I am only half kidding. I both love and hate it. Wouldn’t trade it for the world and also dream of a life where I don’t know any better and Barney plays all day on TV.

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