Monday, August 31, 2009

What am I?

Appropriate answer: I don't care. If you do, I don't have time for the fallout.

There are many labels that would accurately describe aspects of who I am. There was a time I clung to them. They gave me a sold-feeling sense of being Someone. I was Mormon. I was strange. I was a wife. A mother. I was bipolar. An attachment parent. A student. A writer. A...

Naming things can help a person make sense of the world and of their place in it.

Relying on the definitions of those names can also cripple a person. Expectations are developed. Assumptions are made that the thing labeled will - must - live up to its definition. While such assumptions can be useful when applied to objects, in people it too often draws individuals to groups of people who wear labels like laurels... and bond by alienating the Us from the Other. The otherness of the Other gets magnified, pointed out amongst the Us with knowing nods and a comfort that as certainly as there is Other, the Us maintains. If the Other were smarter, they would be Us. If the Other knew what We know, they would turn from their mis-thought ways. Whatever the individuals fear, they apply and magnify in their judgement of the Other.

We all do it. Nations. Religions. Political Parties.

And mothers.

Good grief, but I get pissed off about some of the labels mothers use to divide themselves and align in judgement that harms other women. As if the manufactured Mommy Wars weren't enough, I get sick to death of the sanctimonious clucking. Note to all the cutesy-monikered forms of pregnancy/birthing/baby-feeding/child-rearing activists: Actually help people or shut up. Quit using your energy to judge and mock. Mocking the methods your fellow mothers are using to raise their kids the best they can doesn't help anyone. It doesn't prove your dedication to your beliefs or strengthen those around you. It's toxic and demeaning. Stop it.

Think babies deserve breast milk? Nurse your babies. Be the example. When I was a new mommy, nursing in public was nerve-wracking. Early on I fed my baby bottles when we were out because I felt so alone and unsure. Want to know what helped? Being around relaxed, friendly people nursing their babies.

Think babies deserve to be carried next to a parent? Get active in providing slings to people who can't afford to go to websites with names like poshbaby, let alone debate the merits of six popular baby carriers. Many people have never seen a sling be used, let alone try to wrestle a crying infant into one while worrying the little darling will just fall out the other side.

Don't think kids should be spanked? Raise your kids in a way that demonstrates that your methods work. Very little makes me cringe faster than moms preaching gentle/NVC philosophies while their kids are terrorizing every living thing in a two-mile radius. Nobody's kids are perfect, but when your child is the hitter/biter/etc. at that particular moment, please quit preaching. Save your energy for helping your child navigate this crazy world. If your methods are viable, the people around you will notice and incorporate your methods into their own practices. That's it. People can smell smug a mile away and nothing turns them off faster.

So on and so forth about every damn label. The next time I hear someone disparaging "Main Stream" parenting like it's synonymous with child abuse, I am going to scream.

That is all.

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