Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Better Haiku

I suppose you've figured out by now that I'm not a blogger with a New Year's Resolution to blog more.  I've never been into those resolutions.  If something needs fixing in your life, just change it!  Don't wait!  And if you were going to quit or start whatever needs to be done, than you should have started with the inspiration.  A few years ago I began to feel culturally left out in mid-January when everyone else was feeling bad about themselves for their failures.  I have no special season in which to isolate this feeling.  So I began with a simple resolution: to do the splits within a year.  This, oddly, never happened.  I don't know who to blame.  But with that sort of resolution, failure is not apparent until about 3 seconds to midnight a year later...when everyone else is just getting stoke about their new resolutions.

So this year, I actually made some serious resolutions.  And I enjoyed procrastinating the necessary changes until right before I went to bed at 8pm on New Years Eve. It was like repeatedly pressing snooze on the motivation.  I won't publicly say I've failed miserably, because I defined success very vaguely and have no accountability.  So I won't and don't have to admit to failure, ever!  Which means I've kind of failed at the whole point of having a New Year's Resolution. 

No, the reason I haven't written is one part total inability to post pictures which is, I'm sure, rectifiable with more RAM in my brain.  And the other part is that I just read a slipshod momoir and I'm worried that my blog would sound like that.  Bad Mother was awesomely cool but had that written-the-night-before-term-paper feel to it with some overuse of "And yet." as a sentence and "That said..."  It read like an extended blog entry, with a proof reader.  Like so many books, it would've made a dense and rich article.  And so many articles might've made a better paragraph.  And, perhaps, there are many blog entries that might've shined more brilliantly as a haiku in a personal journal kept under the bed.

It reminded me of when I was single and living alone in my own apartment and I made my meals on the weekends to tote around with me during the week.  I made mushroom bisque one weekend.  This is probably a fabulous soup as a fifth of a five course meal.  But as the only course...for an entire week... I haven't touched the stuff in the 11 years since.

Ayelet Waldman had some great anecdotes and intriguing ideas in her momoir.  She even had a point about the obnoxious militance particular to the attachment parenting set... of which I am a half-assed member.  Whereas she was puzzled by this, I think I've got a great grasp on the process that created it.  For all of us who try anything outside of our general culture, we have to go through a series of steps.  Imagine the new parent considering the task before her. How will she parent?  What will she do?  The route to her parenting identity can be imagined as a T, an El, a BART.  This new parent boards the Blue line.

First stop on the Blue Line is called Analyze and Critique.  Here we deconstruct the dominant paradigm of parenting in America today.  We note the pitfalls, the crying shames, the hazards.   

The Second stop on the Blue Line is Research and Explore Alternatives.  This is where Dr. Sears might replace Dr. Spock.  We find an alternative that suits us.  So... it's out of town a bit.  It's not what our parents think is right.  But it's a better substitute for the complaint-worthy infancy we obviously had, if our current life skills are to be taken as an indicator.  And we find that in the cloth-diapering, extended breastfeeding, baby-wearing world we long to create for our wee wittle wons, we find only jeer-leaders in our culture.

So we move on to the fourth stop on the Blue Line: Support.  In order to do anything counter-cultural, you need a support group.  You need people around you that make you feel normal, that make you feel that swirling a shitty diaper around a toilet for five minutes is perfectly natural.  And so you find magazines, baby groups, friends, and forums.  This is your stop.  EXIT THE CAR!

But instead, some among us cannot seem to get off the T at this point.  And take it all the way to the very last stop:  Intolerance and Militance.  Yes, we all need courage to listen to our hearts, strap our children to our chests and make the family bed.  But feeling sure of your own action so easily turns into harshly criticizing anyone who doesn't share your dream and your insane level of commitment to this ideal.

And boy, have I heard it! I got reamed for weening Blue at 3! For 3.25 years, I allowed that child full access to breasties and the nectar within.  Someone had the gall to tell me that because I initiated the weening, I denied my daughter the ability to develop her own intuition.  I'm still laughing.  

Some attachment support websites have little icons you add to your profile... a collection of parenting chops to increase the weight of your comments: home schooler, home birther, extended breast feeder, cloth diaperer, all organic,  family bed, baby-wearer, vegetarian.  Earth-mama-ego, one friend calls it.  Extreme parenting, I call it.

I no longer feel the need to surround myself with choice-specific support.  And many of us, with kids of these ages, have discovered that parenting is just one big mess and we're all muddling through it as best we can.  A few are still off in their enclaves of righteousness, but they're mostly avoidable.  

I've had the misfortune of being lumped in with them, even though I'm pretty darn non-evangelistic about it all.  I feel like I've got to keep my mouth shut, otherwise I might be treated to a counter-attack.  I'm happy with the choices I made.  I considered my options and listened to my heart.  That said, more important than my obviously fabulous decision making and determination, is that every mom feel supported to make her best, personal choices about this immensely difficult, confusing, and demanding job.  However, just having an opinion, or choosing to do it differently can be seen as inherent criticism.  I chose cloth diapers, and am subjected to some super defensive lecture about that.  I hang out with stay-at-home moms who assume that because I'm doing that right now, I, like them, think it's the RIGHT thing to do.  My diet for the past 15 years can be best described as vegetarian, but I have gotten an earful from omnivores for whom the very existence of my diet is felt as an attack.  What!?  I never said squat against omnivores.  My life-style choices are thoroughly considered around deeply held beliefs.  Regardless - and maybe I'm alone in this way- I can still respect omnivores and disposable diaperers!   I'm sure you can be a good mom AND have a crib... unless you're a dad.  There's got to be more than one way to raise a well adjusted kid.

If I were younger, I might consider going mega-evangelist about it all...just to make the criticism I've received seem fair.  And yet.  And yet.

I support you.  I trust you to follow your heart, to listen to your own intuition, not mine, and to figure out what you need to do from there.  And, I pray thee, please trust me to follow mine.  It's nothing against yours, I'm just going to follow my own damn heart.

Me.  On my path.
You.  On yours.
Crossing and blameless.

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