June 30, 2009

Shoe size-8

I keep running into a common theme this week: Us vs. Them.

Yesterday Alfie Kohn sent out a link from Greater Good magazine on prejudice. This morning I watched Diane Benscoter give a TED talk about being an ex-Moonie. The comments on my last post had a hint of the parenting wars. I'm not sure that's a real term, but there are mommy wars. Whether we call them parenting wars or not, they do exist. I've gotten caught up in them myself, but I am finding that while I have certain opinions on parenting, there is no one way to raise a child. Even with all of the facts and statistics there will always be exceptions. And before anyone points out that everyone thinks they are the exception, I'd like to take a minute to quote one of the greatest Depeche Mode songs ever.

Morality would frown upon
Decency look down upon
The scapegoat fate's made of me
But I promise now, my judge and jurors
My intentions couldn't have been purer
My case is easy to see
I'm not looking for a clearer conscience
Peace of mind after what I've been through
And before we talk of any repentance
Try walking in my shoes
Try walking in my shoes
You'll stumble in my footsteps
Keep the same appointments I kept
If you try walking in my shoes
If you try walking in my shoes
Try walking in my shoes

As individuals, we can't know what it's really like to live someone else's life. Most of us make the choices we feel are right at the time, sometimes the passage of time confirms those decisions, sometimes not. I can't change the past and I'm not sure I'd want to. After all, I might not be here now if I had taken a different path. I also realized that at the end of my path is the glass house that I live in. Now I try not to throw any stones. I've certainly made my fair share of "mistakes", so I thought I'd throw a few of them out there just for fun

For all of my pride at nursing my children, letting them self-wean, and openly nursing in public, I must confess that I did use formula. My son had formula at his grandparents on the weekends, and with my husband when I was not available. Robotson used a bottle and he was a fairly late weaning from it. I also experienced the dirty looks from moms who probably felt I should have been nursing and/or he was too old for a bottle. I let it get to me for a long time. The reason we used formula leads to the second unpopular decision we made.

I worked after Robotson was born. I had a 12 week maternity leave, after which time I went back to work full time. B and I both worked for EarthLink, but on opposite shifts so we could avoid daycare. For a while I worked nights and he worked days. Then I worked Sunday-Tuesday, while he worked Thursday-Sunday. Robotson stayed with our parents on the weekends. I pumped for a while, but the pump and I didn't get along and I began to form a mental block. I gave up when he was 9 months old. We'd been having to supplement with formula for a while since my pumping output was pathetic. I wasn't working by the time the girls were born, but I never could use the pump again. I finally gave it away. Looking back, I never needed to go back to work. We thought I did, but we get by on less now than we would have back then.

Before Robotson was born we decided to go with cloth diapers. We signed up for a service, had our first delivery and waited for him to be born. The short version is we kept running out of diapers and the company wouldn't send us more because we also kept forgetting to put the soiled bag out for them to pick up. I cancelled the service after a month. I'm sure there were other ways of doing cloth diapering eight years ago, but it was just easier to buy them, so we did. These days there are cute patterns and styles you can buy, it all seems so easy and earth friendly. I could have picked it up at least with Dimples, but I didn't. I feel a little twinge of guilt every now and then when I think about all the trash we generated. I know I took the convenient way out.

Throughout our parenting we've tried many different approaches for raising kids. We tried spanking and time outs. We did CIO once or twice. We pushed potty training with Robotson and when that didn't work we let them decide for themselves-labeling them "late potty trainers". We yell sometimes, we haven't been emotionally intelligent for that long or consistently. What choices are we making now that will turn out to be unwise down the road? We do the best we can with what we know and we never stop learning. As long as we continue to seek the best for our children, we'll know that all the mistakes were important steps along the way. I think the real tragedy in the parenting wars is in taking a side (nursing or formula, homeschooling or public school, CIO or attached parenting, timeouts or positive discipline, etc.), and seeing those issues as Us vs. Them with no room for understanding and compassion.


  1. What is CIO?
    Yes, we all make mistakes. But like you point out most of the time we think we are making the right choice at the time. Hind sight really is 20/20.
    I am surprised (but NOT disappointed in you) about the formula! Just would not have suspected it.
    I like your honesty here.

  2. Thanks Grace :) CIO is cry it out. Yeah the formula thing is largely forgotten now. I mean I did nurse him when home and for 2.5 years. But there was a time :)

  3. Good post. I see a lot of holy wars on those subjects all over the net, and I am always irritated with "holier than thou" attitude from "natural moms". You can check out this amusing post: http://www.phdinparenting.com/2009/06/28/lets-try-another-analogy/. In my mind you have to listen to YOUR children and come up with what works. I wouldn't judge anyone who used formula, co-slept or used CIO - it's their life and their children. It would make the world a better place if there was less judging.