Saturday, September 19, 2009

Aw! Thank you guys for all the kind words. I can always count on my friends for a good pick-me-up.

And now that I've had a fun evening where we went to dinner with two of our favorite families (yay Andersons & Nutters!) and the kids are in bed, I'm feeling much more positive. "After all, tomorrow is another day." Quick, quick, name that movie! :D

And I just wanted to share something I've been thinking about that helped me through today. A couple of things actually. First, Tiffany posted about being a good mommy and not comparing ourselves to others. That was such a good reminder for me. I've also been thinking a lot today about an email from one of my Aunts. Here's what she sent:

Her note to the ladies in our fam:

This is a mothers' day article I wanted to share. I think it will make you chuckle. Know that I admire each of you for the wise moms that you are!

Love y'all

Sunday, 10 May 2009, (Mother's Day) Daily Herald Article

Congrats, mothers -- you're doing it all wrong
Lenore Skenazy - Special to The Washington Post

Happy Mother's Day, you moron, Love, your pals in the baby business.

If you're a mother, you might recognize that sentiment -- sweet wishes from the passive-aggressive baby industry that wants you to feel so completely, even dangerously unprepared for the challenges (they're always "challenges") of parenthood that you will run out and read its
magazines, buy its products and take its advice. Ka-ching!

Here's a tip from a little article on flying a kite with your kid:
"Choose a sunny day when there's no chance of lightning."

You mean, don't fly kites when there's a funnel cloud headed for the driveway? Got it.

Or how about this pointer from Parenting magazine on how to delight your baby: "Lean in close and kiss her nose." Kissing my baby. Why didn't I think of that?

And here's my favorite recommendation from a book of "Baby Must-Haves" (yes, a 200-plus-page volume on items you simply must buy unless you want your baby to be seriously deprived): "You'll get more bang for your buck with a toy that can be played with in more than one way -- for instance, a push toy that can also be pulled."

Now, you've got to feel sorry for the poor writer who had to come up with something -- anything -- to say about a pull toy. But can you think of a push toy that can't be pulled? Can you think of /any/ toy that can't be pulled, besides a cranky daddy trying to watch SportsCenter?

These tips treat parents as if we were the 2-year-olds, so wet behind the ears that we need an expert to tell us which games to play, which toys to buy, what to say to our kids and what to feed them. This talking down to parents is big business; the "mom market" has reached $1.7
trillion in annual revenue, according to the book "Parenting, Inc.," with $700 million spent on zero-to-age-2 toys alone. That's a lot of pull toys.

Excuse me. Push and pull toys.

The whole gestalt is enough to convince us moms that today's children -- unlike all those who came before them -- do not have their trajectory pretty well mapped out simply by being born human: cry, crawl, toddle, walk, grow up, breed and cry some more. No, this generation won't make it without a whole lot of help from specialists, safety gear and Internet searches. But why? Are our children more vulnerable -- and we less competent -- than any previous generation in history?

Of course not. But that's the message we're getting. We're living in a time when parents worry about their offspring's safety and development and health and you name it (OK, I will: SAT scores, emotional IQ, body image, rattle skills, pacifier addiction, iPod addiction, self-esteem,
potential abduction, Facebook friends, cookie intake) more than ever, thanks to a parenting industry that relies on turning us into nervous wrecks.

It begins even before the baby's born. There are books and books about what to eat during pregnancy, as if the average expectant woman couldn't figure out whether she should choose the kale or the Krispy Kreme. (And by the way, even that doesn't matter as much as the books make you think. As my doctor told me: Just eat like you normally would, only a little more -- and add some folic acid. I toasted her with a Yoo-hoo.)

That kind of counsel is too reasonable for the parenting-industrial complex. Taking a chipper-but-chiding approach that sets the tone for a whole generation of parenting advice, the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" pregnancy guide goes so far as to remind moms-to-be that
"each bite" is a chance to give their babies the perfect start. Which must mean that not making "each bite" nutritionally stellar risks ruining your kid forever. There's no rest for the weary parent in this high-alert world, especially after the little bundle arrives. Take, forinstance, the baby bath thermometer, an item so popular that there are several competing brands on the market. The cheapest one looks like a rubber duck. Place it in the tub and if the bathwater is too hot, these words magically appear on its tummy: "TOO HOT."

You'd have to be convinced that you're incapable of testing the water temperature with your own hand before you'd buy this gadget. But that's what that crafty duck is out to do: undermine your confidence in your own childrearing capabilities. (Never mind that the instructions on the
back of the package remind adults to "ALWAYS" check the temperature with their hands first!)

It's hard to feel secure about being a good mom now that every decision is so fraught with consequences. My friend Lainie Gutterman, who is just entering her second trimester, says that her head is spinning. "I don't know what's right, what's wrong, and for everyone who swears by
something," she says, "there's someone who hates that product and thinks it's overpriced."

Usually that someone is me. And not just because it's a waste of money. It's because I want the old days back.

For my friends and me -- gals raising elementary and junior-high-age kids and even some who are just having babies -- things have changed dramatically in a single generation. The worries that make us hyperventilate didn't even faze our moms -- and not because they were
lazy or bad. It's just that in the past, people didn't see every tiny parenting decision as such a big deal. Our moms could feed us formula and not worry about whether they were subtracting IQ points. They could let us bike around the block without thinking about last night's Nancy Grace. They could hang a mobile above the crib and not worry too much about:

- Whether it was developmentally appropriate (including colors and music).

- Whether the attachments were facing the right way. (Really! I just read an article that said they should face down, toward the baby, or all bets are off.) And ...

- Whether we were going to strangle ourselves if we somehow managed to pull the mobile down, play with the pull chain and accidentally wrap it around our necks.

They didn't sweat the way we do because they were reading Dr. Spock, the child-care guru of the 1950s and '60s, who famously began his book "Baby and Child Care" with the words, "Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do." Not, "Freak out! Your baby is at a super-important stage and you must devote every fiber of your being to helping him ace it."

Deprived of this kind of "help," our parents let us stay outdoors till the streetlights came on, and maybe even fly a kite on days that weren't perfectly sunny.

Today is a day to thank those moms for all that they did. But it is also a day to thank the current crop of moms, stuck trying to do their best in the face of a whole parenting culture that's insisting, "You're not doing it right!"

Yes we are. Or at least we're doing it right enough, thank you, and the odds are very much on our side. Happy Mother's Day to us.

Lenore Skenazy is the author of Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry.

So, me again now. Ladies -- we are meant to be mothers. We can do this! We know what needs to happen most of the time and when we don't, we know how to figure it out! We have the tools and the guidance (whether divine or friends). I love you all and I think we are ALL awesome in our efforts to mother our children!!

6 Comments:

  1. Jean said...
    Yay for a great evening! And yaaaaaay for moms!!!! We are awesome!
    Lisa said...
    I love that article. Seriously. I've felt sort of this way, but haven't ever been able to put it so eloquently. Thanks :)
    Erika said...
    Small world, the Nutters were in my first married ward at BYU. :) I love that article, sometimes the pressure to do everything right every minute is suffocating. That's when I just give up. My kids love it when I give up, that's when we tend to have the most fun. (like when we went to Burger King for dinner the other night)
    Abbie said...
    I love these two posts. I've been thinking about the same things lately (maybe I'll always be thinking about it because I'll always be a mother).

    We can do it! We are amazing!

    And I'm so jealous you all got together. I love the BYU 148th-ers
    Trishelle said...
    Thanks, Abby! We can do this! You are truly an amazing woman. I hope you know that YOU are such an example to me. I find myself so encouraged by you. Thanks for sharing your amazing blog!!
    Abby Hanson said...
    Thank you guys!! I am so glad we have the blogging world to help us stay close. And I'm so thankful to have such wonderful friends like you!!!

    Erika -- how cool that you know the Nutter's!! They are awesome, aren't they? :D

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