Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My kids are perfect and yours suck

There's a dirty little secret of the mommy world. It's not secret if you're a mom. But others seem to be blissfully oblivious.

Step a little closer, though, and I'll share. Ready?

Moms are HUGE assholes. Competitive, horrible bitches that will make you want to kill them and/or yourself on a daily basis.

Oh, of course, not all moms are this way. But there are an awful lot of them. And be prepared, because they will do everything possible to make you feel like shit. And they are everywhere.

Example: I read this comment today on a post about scheduling c-sections or inductions for tax purposes. Do I think this is a good idea by any means? No. For a plethora of reasons I won't even start to get into. But here's what Anonymous Internet Bitch Mom thought -

"Well, women in developed countries are so uneducated about their bodies and birth anyway, what do you expect from a country with such a high c-section rate. I have never known of anyone who had a c-section for any reason that wasn't selfish or stupid."

And then there are the comments on breastfeeding posts. Here are two lovely examples:

"It's disgusting to breastfeed in public. These women are just attention whores. That's what bottles are for. I would proudly tell off a woman nursing in public, I have kids, they don't need to see PORN when we go out."

"Breastfeeding is a BIRTHRIGHT. I struggled for months to nurse. Every baby is entitled to breastmilk, and every mom should have to provide it. If your job doesn't accommodate breastfeeding, maybe it's time to find a new job."

Or the great circ debate:

"If you don't circ your boy, when he goes to high school and gets laughed at and has lasting psychological issues, it'll be all your fault for not doing what you were supposed to to his penis. Uncirc'd penises are gross and they are smelly."

"If you circ your boy, you have participated in genital mutilation. You should be arrested."

And don't even get me started on vaccines, diapering, or - GASP - occasionally eating fast food. You might as well just kill your child now and save them the slow death they will face from chemicals/obesity/autism/cancer/toppled over Happy Meal toys. It's the humane thing to do.


Look, I get it. Raising your child is one of the most important things you do in life. And you have such a brief window to turn them into a decent, caring, humane person. There's this wonderful being in your care and it's your job. It's all you. What if you fuck up? How tragic will that be? No one wants to be the mom of the serial killer or the drunkard or the asshole. We all want to raise cheerful, healthy, functional members of society. Ones that hopefully never have plaque and learn from the mistakes we once made.

But we can't save them from everything.

True story: your kid will have a broken heart. They will have times where they are mean, or selfish, or screw up epically. They will refuse to learn from your mistakes. They will believe they are impervious to danger or injury. They will stop thinking that you are the wonderfully perfect person with all the answers who can solve every problem that they have. They will likely be a sullen moody teen eventually. There's not a damn thing you can do to stop it.

But what we can stop is making every other mother out there feel like shit if they do something differently than we do. We can keep our judgments - because, yeah, we'll still have them; we're not perfect - to ourselves. We can stop assuming that everyone who does anything differently than us is uneducated and abusive. In fact, we can start caring more about preventing true abuse rather than shoving our choices down everyone else's throat as smugly as possible. When we do feel the need to educate, we can do it gently, knowing that once, this was probably foreign to us, too.

We can be nicer, better, more supportive people. We can do it in part for our kids. Because no one wants their child to grow up to be the competitive dickhead parent that everyone else loathes. But if that's what the learn from you, that's what they will become. That or a nun, after deciding to rebel as much as possible. One of those.

And at the end of the day, your love and support and time will be important to your child. Not how you birthed them, or how you fed them in the first few years, or whether they were in cloth diapers or if they occasionally had a HFCS laden soda.

And if your kid turns out less screwed up than the really trashy one from Teen Mom or any of the cast members of the Jersey Shore, you have succeeded. ;P

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stranger Danger

My oldest is an extremely friendly kid.

She will be out in public and happily start discussing almost anything with anyone. She'll yell out from inside the cart to random people - asking them their name, telling them hers, telling them mine.

On Saturday, we were at WalMart (otherwise known as the holiday epicenter of hell) and she selected this sandwich lunch pack thing with a sandwich, cheese stick, apple, juice, and animal crackers. And she was sooooooooo proud of it. So proud that she felt the need to show EVERYONE that came within 5 feet of our cart.

We pass by a middle aged lady.
Rhi: "Hi! I'm Rhiannon. What's your name?"
Lady: looks at her like she's lost her mind, turns and walks quickly in the opposite direction
Rhi: "Wait! You didn't see my lunch!" holds up box and waves it.

Shane LOATHES this. I caught him lecturing her about it. "Stop showing people that! You're not supposed to talk to strangers!!!!"

I hate that shit.

I talked to strangers as a kid. I remember being just as friendly as Rhi. I remember not really being concerned with things like kidnapping or pedophiles or drug dealers. Somehow, I managed to get to a whopping 28 years old without being axe murdered and raped after I ran off with a stranger.

I know that sounds flippant, and, trust me, I don't mean for it to be. Yes, kids get kidnapped. Yes, they get molested. Yes, it's tragic. Yes, I, like every other parent, worry about it happening to my kids.

But I see a big difference in the boundaries I try to instill. Call me a bad parent, I don't stop my kids from talking to people. Especially since my kid is three, and I'm right there, parenting her. Is someone going to snatch her from my cart and run off while I'm right next to her because she said hi? I guarantee you they will be beaten, possibly to death, with some frozen chicken if they try. Rhi knows damn well not to go off with a stranger. But I refuse to stop her from being nice. I refuse to instill the suspicion that all people are bad and that she should trust no one. I'd love for her to be at least 5 before she's that jaded.

I also think about it this way. If, god forbid, my kid was lost, what are the chances that the nearest adult would be a pedo/kidnapper/murderer? Probably unlikely. So she'd probably be in more danger by wandering around alone, looking for me and refusing to get help from someone (who is likely completely benign.) I want her, if we're separated at WalMart or something, to TELL someone.

Also, stranger danger discounts the fact that most children are harmed by people they know. My kid is more likely to be abused by somebody that I know right now than by some random person. Statistically, she's most likely to be kidnapped by her dad than a stranger (not that I think he would ever do so.)

I think it's sad that people turn away from my perky, cheerful child in the store. And I'm sure that part of it is the concern that somehow I'll take offense to them being friendly to my child. But I won't discourage her from being a happy, amiable soul.