Saturday, March 23, 2013

Good Advice with a Side of Cheetos

An old, tired mom and her new baby.
My friend Ginny, who is a lovely by the way, and a thoughtful, humble and honest blogger, recently wrote a piece called, A Letter to Young Mothers on her blog Cheetos for Breakfast that sort of exploded. She’s being kind of cagey about exactly how many hits she’s received, but it’s a lot. She has 137 (with a bullet) comments on it… and I’m not shy about saying I’m jealous! Folks rarely comment on my blog! But… I’m not supposed to compare myself to others, right?

I’m guessing I've never gotten that kind of response because maybe I’ve never written a post that was so meaningful to so many… You see, it’s about motherhood, and the pressure young mothers feel from within and from without – that is, from other parents – to do it right. Breast or bottle? Stay at home or work? Attachment parenting or … whatever the alternative is…? Plus all the other methods and advice people love to share....

"Help! I forgot how to nurse!"
(my first big mom anxiety attack)
As with all her topics, Ginny addresses it with the wisdom and grace of one with much experience in living and in wallowing in God’s endless supply of grace. She feels our pain, she shares the mercy she’s received from on high.

Because as I mentioned yesterday in my “horrible mother”rant, moms need grace… even moms who are NOT horrible need grace. Momming is the hardest job there is. In contrast to Ginny, who is younger than I and has four kids that are mostly grown, when I had my baby I was already old and tired. I was gung-ho, but … only within the parameters of my flagging energy and limited mental capacity. I made decisions based on… well, really, just trying to do the best I could. I knew breast feeding was good for my child, plus it would help me lose the baby weight, so of course I did it. I may be well over my anorexia, but I’m no fool!

Both my husband and me are the product of stay-at-home-moms who probably would have been saner had they worked… so after my eight-week maternity leave, I continued to work. Besides, our budget pretty much requires the second income I bring in. As for attachment parenting, that was a no brainer. I’d like to have seen someone try to DE-tach me from my baby!
Attachment parenting? I'd like to see
you try to detach me from this baby!

That is not to say I was not, or am not, worried about “doing it right” when it comes to parenting. Because I most certainly am! But as I said, because I was old when my kid was born, I sort of bypassed some of the hyper-hyper-anxiety that comes with being a mom, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t worry or feel pressure. I absolutely did. I worried when my child forgot how to breastfeed and failed to plump up as he should. I worried whenever he got a rash or swollen glands or a scratch or a cold or blazing red bottom or mealy yellow diarrhea or … just about anything.

Being older also gave me the advantage of being the only one I knew with a kid that age. Beside the moms at Bill’s preschool, who seemed to have similar parenting outlooks, I didn’t have anyone scrutinizing my every parenting move, telling me I was doing it wrong. So I had that going for me. In a state of sleep-deprived grouchiness, my husband would occasionally say something judgy, but what did he know? No more than I did. He was grasping at straws same as me. And, I wonder now if even parents who belligerently champion one parenting method or another are standing on ground just as shaky – they just want to believe they know what is right.

As for parenting advice, I’ve received and followed and / or ignored selected advice from a lactation specialist, our pediatrician, a nutritionist, Barry Sears, John Rosemond, my mom, other moms, my sister, my best friend, old friends, the American Academy of Pediatrics… Unless it is a strictly medical dilemma (and maybe not even then!), not every tip or recommendation works for every parent and child. I know I’m inexperienced and all, but I feel that I, along with my husband, can make these kind of choices regarding how to live out this heavy – but also quite light – job of being Bill’s mom... as only someone who lives in this house with this particular child can.

Highlight, underline and put
brackets around Micah 6:8.
And while that view certainly smacks of relativism, I am no relativist when it comes to God matters – specifically this word of knowledge that Ginny recommended in her fab post: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

It’s simple. But it’s also difficult. I mean, you still have to decide what comprises acting justly, and what mercy looks like. I guess walking humbly is necessary because you certainly have to be open to the notion that your idea of justice and mercy could be wrong…

Anyway, I love Ginny for bringing this up, because it just happens to be good advice for any person in just about any situation, and to see it applied to the most challenging job ever… well, it really helped. Because Ginny knows. She feels our pain, Moms. Guess that’s why so many folks read that post of hers…

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