Meredith C. Carroll: Meredith Pro Tem
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
It’s a crying shame that Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen had to go and make those inane remarks last week about how stay-at-home mom Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life. Not because what she said wasn’t true (although, of course, it wasn’t, but who really cares what the spouse of a presidential candidate does or doesn’t do for a living?). No, it’s too bad because now there’s a renewed call for an end to the mommy wars at around the same moment that I was finally inspired to pick a side and head off into battle.
I’ve given birth to two babies in the past four years and only just started to regret that I don’t have more of a solid parenting philosophy (other than, you know, ensuring my children breathe, eat and get bathed regularly, although on second thought, that seems less philosophical and more of a strategy to stay off the radar of Child Protective Services).
I’m not looking to get into it with the folks who buy into attachment parenting (although I would gently point out that the line between nurturing and suffocating can be very tenuous, or tedious), the ones who argue in support of free-range kids (even if I’m not sure why you want kids in the first place if you treat them like tiny adults before they’re old enough to form a proper sentence) or even those who are considered helicopter parents (I just hope those folks realize their blades are sharp and can cause serious injury).
I’m also not about to take jabs at the tiger moms (you win!) or any of the newly chic French parents (ennuyeux!). And I’m definitely not getting into the working mom vs. stay-at-home mom, who-is-better-or-more-right mud-wrestling match. I mean, even I’m not dumb enough to step in the middle of that mess.
Nah, the mommy war in which I’m most interested in enlisting is the one against those parents who are much bigger bullies and far less thoughtful than any of the aforementioned about subjects so much more insignificant, and yet the troops in the thick of it are nonetheless filled with such vitriol that they have cartoon steam shooting out from their ears. You’ll know who they are because they almost always start sentences with phrases like, “We all want what’s best for our kids, but … ,” and then end by saying something way too aggressive to ever be considered passive.
Kind of like the parents who are cloth-diaper advocates. Not the ones who use them and quietly go on with their lives. I’m talking about the ones who use them and breathe fire of judgment and condescension at anyone who maddeningly uses disposable diapers (or “sposies,” as some cloth advocates have inanely branded them) on the butts of their babies instead.
Never mind that disposable diapers are just one of those things that make day-to-day living that much better than it was 50 years ago – kind of like chai lattes and the “Real Housewives” franchise – and that some parents have neither the time nor inclination to regularly wash pee- and poop-soaked undergarments. The cloth-diaper crazies can’t see the forest for the trees that people who use disposable diapers are accused of destroying by cruelly and insensitively buying Pampers.
Whether it’s the money-saving argument or the save-the-Earth argument or the chemicals-in-the-sposies-are-some-kind-of-conspiracy argument, some of the hard-core cloth-diaperers would literally like the disposable-diaper parents to be wiped out of the gene pool. And I wouldn’t mind wiping the floor with the cloth-diaper people (or, really, just the cloth diapers themselves) so I can continue using my disposable ones in peace (and without the stubborn odor of old pee).
Another group I wouldn’t mind engaging in a little figurative hand-to-hand combat are the so-called lactivists. That is, the people who so firmly believe the breast-is-best-for-everyone argument that there is no arguing with them (unless talking to a wall while simultaneously beating a dead horse is your thing). It doesn’t matter if a woman couldn’t breast-feed or simply didn’t want to – the breast-feeding police are out to get you if you don’t use what God (or pregnancy, whatever) put in your milk ducts. And if you don’t support breast-feeding in public or think it’s OK only if there is no indecent exposure, and if heaven forbid you are a hospital that gives out free formula samples or a bottle company that promotes how well some babies take to your product, then a pox on your family (which you’ll probably have anyway if you’re one of those who use the sposies).
But the most inane mommy war of all belongs to those doing battle in the name of elimination communication (EC), which is a method by which a months-old infant is potty-trained. Instead of diapering the babies they signed on to parent, the EC-followers believe timing, signals, cues and intuition will have their tiny babies crapping on the loo before they reach their first birthday, ideally in the first several weeks of life. And if you think EC is a little CZ (cray-zee), beware the claws that will come your way.
Of course none of that which I believe to be so infuriating that I’m willing to fight against is still a parenting philosophy per se, but at least by engaging in battle I can help weed out the gadflies and try to figure out what really matters to me most when it comes to parenting. You know, besides the breathing, eating and bathing (which, for the record, is still very important – OK, Child Protective Services?).
More at http://www.meredithcarroll.com.
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