It has come to my attention in the past 12 months of pregnancy and new mommyhood that one of two things simply has to be the case: Either I oversimplify the daily minutae of parenthood and childcare, or a good many other folks just overcomplicate it. Given that this is my blog and all, I’m going to go with theory #2. In truth, however, it’s probably the fact that every child is different. But for the sake of this blog, we’re going to stick with theory #2, if for no other reason than for me to pontificate for awhile.
I guess I just don’t understand why I can’t just use the types of diapers I use, or the feeding methods that work for me and Russ both, or the schedule (or lack thereof) that works for our family without someone effectively telling me why or how I am doing it wrong. I mean, nobody has ever outright said “Yer doin’ it wrahng!!” to me. But like any new mom (heck, any mom…PERIOD) out there, I can only take so much of the insidious “Oh, we don’t do that because ____” (insert irrelevant-to-me-or-my-child reasoning that I didn’t ask for) or “Well see, what you really need to get/do/say/feed him/give him is ______” (insert method/food/etc. that has been factually or medically disproven since before the first Bush administration). No matter how patient you are, that kind of thing does get old after awhile. And please don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m this haughty, I-Know-EVERYTHING kind of person. It’s just that I’m still feeling my way through this motherhood thing, and the last thing I’m going to do is something that makes me really uncomfortable because it goes directly against everything that my pediatrician, lactation consultant, etc. has told me.
I especially just don’t have much tolerance for what I’ve dubbed “Broken Record Syndrome.” Family members, despite their well-meaning, can be some of the worst about this (I love you guys, but you know it’s true). I feel like you’ve finally mastered a certain level of being able to respectfully listen to what they say, weigh it with my own best judgment as a parent, and then do what I personally feel is the best thing for my kid. And sometimes, that simply isn’t what our family members have told us to do (sometimes it is actually quite the opposite of whatever these family members might be telling us to do, and that’s okay, too). So rather than avoid taking it personally and just move on, these well-meaning family members repeat the same thing…again…and again…and again. Ad. Nauseum. I guess they think that we’ll eventually “see the light” and just do it their way, but I really don’t understand that reasoning. Whatever the case, the Broken Record phenomenon is a very real part of my life nowadays and I just hope that I can continue to be patient about dealing with it.
But as for the overcomplication issue, I am increasingly charmed by the less-is-more approach to caring for Russ. For the most part, he’s the easiest baby ever – why make things unnecessarily more difficult for myself? For now, here are some answers to the main questions I’m being asked lately…
Q. Becky, you’re still exclusively breastfeeding? At four months? Seriously? When are you going to just give the kid some cereal already? He’s a big boy, you know…
A. Interesting you should ask! I’m not sure what qualifies as a “big boy” these days, but I’m going to stick to my theory that a four month old infant is hardly a “big boy.” I am still exclusively breastfeeding at four months, because for me, it’s easy and efficient, and Russ loves it. Not to be weird about it, but this kid seriously loves the boob. Could I be setting myself up for difficulty when it does come time to wean (which, by the way, is tentatively slated for around his first birthday and no, I don’t need your opinion about that)? Absolutely, but I think I’m giving him the best start that I personally can and I’m proud to be doing that. Not to mention, I have what I feel is a pretty decent postbaby bod thanks to the 500+ extra calories per day that are burned by my 24/7 milk factory. Russ never goes hungry and my milk supply is just fine. I’ll probably introduce cereal and first foods around the time that Russ turns six months, as per recent American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines and suggestions, along with what my doctor has told me. So thanks for your advice, but I’m good.
Q. Russ is staring at your plate. He wants some of your steak. And you’re suuuuure he’s not ready for solids?
A. Yep, just as suuuuure as I am that I’m not ready to do chest compressions on my choking infant. I’m not going to be giving him Absinthe in a sippy cup anytime soon, either. You might also note that he has no teeth. Some studies actually show that babies develop their palate and food preferences based upon what foods their mother ingests during pregnancy and breastfeeding, so your (ill-conceived) idea isn’t totally off-base. Just mostly. He’ll have some “Steak Boobie” in about two hours, though, so don’t feel too bad for the poor little guy. And I hardly suspect that my ribeye is what he’s staring at. It probably has more to do with the fact that at four months of age, his eyesight is not yet developed to the 20/20 vision it will become in the near future – so in all likelihood, Russ is actually just looking in the direction of the sound of my voice or Jonathan’s. Or some other stimuli (be it sight, sound, or smell). And for sure, he could be making the connection that adults eat and drink differently than he does, but that doesn’t mean he needs to be rushed into a stage he simply isn’t developmentally ready for yet. I mean I’ve known four year olds who were obsessed with heavy artillery and second grade girls who thought stripper heels were “pretty.” It’s a slippery slope, people! Watch “Toddlers and Tiaras” one time and let me know if you don’t agree.
Q. Oh my gaw-ah-haad, how do you use _____ on Russ? That gave my kid boils and temporary blindness!
A. Uh…well…it’s just Desitin, right? Some kids have crazy allergies, others don’t, I guess we just got lucky. That’s the great thing about our consumer-driven society! If one thing doesn’t do it for ya, there are 30 other options on the same aisle at Walmart. And formulations have changed since the 70s and 80s. A lot of products that weren’t the gold standard then are now the ones exclusively used in hospital maternity units. Likewise, a lot of products that were once the go-to are now banned in every city except Wasilla, Alaska. I guess that explains a few things…
Q. How is Russ going to be get socialized if he doesn’t go to daycare?
A. Good question! Remember back about 20 years ago when parents introduced their children to people and told them to say “hello?” That’s a start. Then you do this crazy thing called “Instructing-and-Expecting-Your-Children-To-Communicate-With-Those-Around-Them.” It’s this totally cutting edge new thing. Russ gets a good amount of exposure to people other than just me, Jonathan, and immediate family. He’s a regular at the gym daycare, he makes appearances at the church nursery, and starting this weekend, he’s even going to a birthday party! So I don’t worry at all about him becoming “socialized” or anything like that. Just because I’m a stay-at-home-mom and Russ doesn’t spend all day with other children (at least not until he has a little sibling in a few years), doesn’t mean he will be antisocial or unable to share his toys. Of course, I’m not going to host any of those crazy “Spread the Chicken Pox” parties that some parents do either, but rest assured…we’ll be fine. My mom was a SAHM and we all see how frighteningly gregarious I turned out. Socialization is a function of example and instruction, not one of sharing boogers with other people’s kids. Though, let’s face it…boogers are funny. Farts, too. The kids will be alright.
Note: Please do not take anything in the aforementioned answer as a personal affront or dig, in any way/shape/form, to those who use daycare (be it for work or for simple convenience). I have the utmost respect and admiration for working parents. I just find that caustic humor is the best way to fend off the (very) occasional needling about my current status as a SAHM. We all have different circumstances to deal with as parents, and I know how lucky I am to be able to stay home with Russ. Because of that, I am continually amazed by the tireless hours that working parents put in both on the work clock and the parent clock – which, we all know, has no “start” time and no “end” time.
Q. What is Russ’s schedule? You know you need to get him on a schedule, right?
A. Why? No really, why? So that I can lose hair over the fact that I will forever be late for whatever is in the “schedule?” Now there’s an appealing prospect. Don’t get me wrong, I think structure is good. I also think a healthy amount of flexibility is good. As long as my kids are fed and rested, it doesn’t really matter to me if Russ nurses at 10 am one day and 9 am the next, if he naps at 1 pm one day and noon the next? I find that so many things in my life are made easier if I just sit back and let Russ tell me what he needs. As he grows, I notice that he tends to settle into his own schedule and his own tendencies, so I’m just going with it. When he is a toddler, I fully intend on introducing a little more structure in the way of sleeping and naps – since nothing is worse than a sleepy toddler. But even with food, I hope I can institute a different kind of structure – the kind to teach Russ to eat when he’s hungry and stop when he’s full, to help him develop healthy eating habits, and to make family dinners around an actual table a normal occurence in his life. But am I going to go the way of some Tom Perrota crazy drill sergeant momster? That’s a negative, Ghost Rider.
So, until next time (or the next silly question, whichever comes first), I hope that about covers it. And really, this isn’t meant to offend or upset anyone. It’s just that this blog is my mommy scratching post and well…I was getting a little scratchy. Or itchy. Whatever.