So many of my fellow bloggers are totally granola, or at least mostly granola mixed with oats. To be honest, sometimes I feel like a pop tart in comparison. Nowadays it’s the “in thing” to cloth diaper, baby wear, practice baby led weaning, scorn the television, and grind up your own organic vegetables into ultra-healthy baby gourmet dishes.
I’m not arguing with the fact that all of the above is a good idea. I mean, cloth diapering is great for the environment, no arguments there. Organic vegetables are good for humans, better than a lot of preservatives, of course. Babies like to be held, and therefore worn, and is scientifically proven to be beneficial to their emotional health. On and on and on.
But you know what? I am human and a tired, full-time working mom to a busy baby, and although my priority is to keep her happy and healthy, I am pretty sure that I’m accomplishing this without ever doing a lot of those things that seem to get moms all the bonus, extra credit points. I don’t want to cut corners when it comes to my beloved child, but I do. And even though I don’t puree my own vegetables, or cloth diaper, or sell my TV on ebay, my daughter is amazingly healthy, and happy. How is that? Because I love her, so much, and I am so happy to be with her. I show her that as much as I can. I keep her surroundings peaceful. I provide her with learning opportunities, a safe environment, and healthy, loving friends and family members.
1) She sometimes watches the TV. She likes to watch it, and that’s fine with me. We do so many other things, outside and inside, that the TV is just one more thing that she finds interesting. I watched TV as a kid, and guess what? I grew up liking to read, play musical instruments, do well in school, and travel, too! It didn’t fry my brain or take away from my other interests and activities. So if the baby thinks the colors are fascinating while I indulge in the next season of Survivor, I’m pretty sure she won’t be a brainless lazy wench later on because of it.
2) She wears disposable diapers. I’d love to cloth diaper, but the truth is that is terribly inconvenient for me (not owning a washer/dryer, being gone three days a week) and I’m pretty sure she’s still going to make it through babyhood alright. In a perfect world I would cloth diaper, but the world isn’t perfect and I cave to the mammoth disposable industry.
3) She doesn’t eat organic fresh vegetables and I have never pureed or used a food processor in my life. I hate cooking, and dicing veggies to toss into a machine that will mash them to a pulp is definitely cooking, in my opinion. Eating vegetables that were put into someone else’s machine by someone else and then canned or put into a pouch works fine by me. If you enjoy this type of thing, great! But I see it as one more chore and it stresses me out. The less stressed I am the less stress my baby is subjected to, and that’s a win-win for us both. If I had a neighbor who grew her own vegetables, ground them up, and sold the mush for 50 cents a can, you can bet I’d be standing in her customer line. Instead, all I have is the grocery store. For those who like to cook, or prepare food, good on ya! Wish I did, but it just feels like a total drag, similar to doing dishes or vacuuming.
4) Baby-led weaning didn’t work out. I was totally on board with it and then… guess what?! My baby wants me to feed her with a spoon, and *gasp* wants pureed baby food! She doesn’t like finger foods right now and doesn’t want to feed herself. So since she’s enjoying squash in a can, she’s eating squash from a can. If she wants to switch to finger foods later, fine by me.
5) I vaccinate. Yep, I do. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I don’t think the government is implanting us with experimental alien-juice. Scientists work tirelessly to create vaccines that will protect us from the diseases that used to kill our children (polio, whooping cough, measles). Did big business cash in on that? Of course they did. So it’s not all good, they are out to gain a buck, and that can lead to badness. But if the vaccines don’t work, they won’t gain a buck, either. I’m not a fan of everything about the vaccine industry, but when it comes right down to it, it breaks my heart to see children dying of a disease that was easily preventable with a few needle pokes. How privileged are we to live in a place where these medicines are widely available? There are kids in refugee camps lining up for hours, their parents desperate to try to save them from diseases we don’t even remember.
I’ve watched people die of the flu. I’ve watched them die of hepatitis, and malaria. Would the outcome had been different if they’d had vaccinations? In the malaria case, yes. In the flu case, maybe. Is the medical industry out to kill you? No. We save people’s lives if we can. I’m part of the industry, and while there are hundreds of things I don’t like, I’ve watched our technology and science extend and save lives, for better or for worse. But I guarantee you that when it’s your child in the hospital bed, you always believe it’s for better.
So that’s why I vaccinate.
6) I bottle feed. Duh! She’s not my biological child, so what were my options? I wanted to breast feed Avalon, and will always be an advocate for the benefits of breastfeeding. I think it should always be a first choice. But the judgment in some people’s eyes when mothers bottle-feed instead? Ridiculous! It doesn’t work for everyone, and often in spite of the mother’s best efforts. I know many moms, close family members, who tried so hard and felt so guilty when they chose to bottle feed or supplement. Why the shaming? Haven’t women used wet nurses for as long as history remembers because they couldn’t breast feed themselves? And all of us 80s kids? Tons of us were bottle-fed because breast-feeding had fallen out of grace (which was a mistake, and a shame) and we’re all still here to talk about it! It would be wonderful if donated breast milk was an option for healthy babies. It’s truly wonderful that our society is now promoting breast feeding as the first and healthiest option for mom and baby, the way it was meant to be. But I am tired of getting glared at in public places when I whip out a bottle.
Things I do
1) Spend time with my baby. I remember to close the laptop, put down the phone, and just giggle and laugh and play together. Read together, swim, make music, play in sand or grass or waves. Find new experiences and social settings together. I don’t expect the TV or even toys to be a babysitter or playmate, although they can provide stimulation or distraction when I need to get things ready quickly!
2) Surround my baby with other people who love her unconditionally.
3) Wear my baby. Because she likes it, and it calms and soothes her. My first baby, Moose? Hated being worn, so we didn’t! He turned out to be a loving, healthy, cuddly boy anyway!
4) Consider other points of view. I read about baby led weaning, and cloth diapering, and puree-ing baby foods. I took in the pros and the cons. I made decisions based on what is right for my baby and my family, which includes me.
5) Fall asleep together. Dangerously bordering co-sleeping (a big foster care no-no), but luckily my baby transfers well. I think that whatever sleeping arrangement works out best for mom AND baby is the sleeping arrangement of choice, provided that safe sleeping arrangements are always made either way. I’m not sure why moms are so divided about co-sleeping vs. strict separation. My baby falls asleep best next to me, and I honestly like it that way. Not all babies do, not all moms like it that way. Co-sleeping can be a good idea for a while, and then it can be time to transition. I slept with my mom until I was seven… I’m not sure how it worked for her, but it didn’t kill my independence! I know moms who keep their kids in separate sleeping spaces from the moment it is time to sleep, and for every nap, and they are no less in tune with their babies, nor are they less close with their kids, than co-sleeping moms.
In the end, all you need to be is a mom who provides love, opportunity, and a secure environment to your child. The rest is all details!