I try not to blog too much about parenthood on here, but as it is summer vacation for many in the US, many of the homesteader blogs and whatnot are going into this. And of course, there’s always my natural parenting blogs I typically enjoy reading. Anyway- yesterday, I made a status update on the page:
Can I just say I find the recent push of “natural motherhood” to be one of the dumbest marketing tools ever? I understand breaking the social conditioning- but you don’t need to pay someone to learn to follow your instinct. You just need to give the establishment the finger and do what *you* tells you to. There’s a remarkable, wonderful inner connection between mother and child: use it and stop paying these shills.
And people rightly pointed out that parenting does not come naturally to some. I know this very well, as it doesn’t to me. I’m a pretty solid introvert and the thing nobody wants to admit is that yes, the socialization aspect? It also holds very true for people you love the most. Actually, especially true- because, and get ready for the big “DUH!” moment but…children are exhausting.
One of the things the media does to people is to give them several very unrealistic ideas about parenthood. The media and other well meaning idiots will tell you that you’re gonna miss these days!
My kids are spaced roughly 6 years in between one another. I’m well aware of the things you miss and it’s not the days. It’s the moments. There are in fact, these amazing, wonderfully iconic moments of bonding and love so deep that, yes, when they are no longer small, I miss. The fact that I can fully illustrate the reality of parenthood does not negate that, nor does it mean I do not appreciate them. What it means is, I’m honest enough with both myself and with everyone else to tell you this one simple truth:
Being a mother sucks a lot of times. It sucks so hard sometimes that you want to rip out your hair. It sucks so hard that some mothers run off. Some mothers commit horrible atrocities I can’t even wrap my head around. Some mothers seem to do it effortlessly, others seem to struggle. There was a fantastic blog on Huffpo recently by Steve Weins called “To the Parents of Small Children: Let Me Be The One Who Says It Out Loud” that I found myself nodding enthusiastically to- mostly because the fact is, parenthood is something that to me, is a very simple thing. However, simple does not equal easy. I know for fathers there’s a whole ‘nother story, but I’m not a father. I am a mother. And I am tired of people telling me that I need to wrap myself in this blissful cocoon of denial- I am tired of it because I remember being a terrified 19 year old with my toes on the thresh-hold of impending doom parenthood, scared shitless because I had absolutely NO IDEA what the fuck to do, and not only that, I had a world of people telling me how blessed and fortunate I was at a time when I felt anything but.
I still would like to fling a hearty middle finger when I hear that sometimes because you know why some mothers run off? Why, even, in extreme cases, other mothers do those horrible things? Lack of support. Lack of understanding. If you, as a mother, cannot imagine why a mother could run off or do these things: you’re the one who is blessed, and you need to recognize how blessed you really are. Because if you cannot imagine at least running off, screaming, some days: you have your shit together. That’s fantastic. Not everyone does.
I parent by a simple concept. My instinct screams, “MAKE IT STOP” when I hear crying. Crying is one of the most obnoxious sounds ever- for varying reasons. As a parent, you know the pain cry. You know the scared cry. Those are two cries that are so utterly soul-wrenching, you hear them with your solar plexus. And you never, ever want to hear them again when you’ve heard them once. Babies, in particular, though, usually cry for three reasons: FEED ME, LOVE ME, GET THIS NASTY THING OFFA ME. Okay, un-gas me could fall under “love me”, I reckon, because the positions you use to burp a kid tend to involve holding. You get the idea. So, instinctively- we do what we can to stop the crying, and it’s usually one of those things. This is simple. It is not easy. When you have a million other things to do, it’s hard to put it in to perspective. I try. I honestly do. When my infant is squirming like he’s doing a little dance, pinching my nipples, pulling the skin of my breasts and sometimes, scraping his new teeth across them- randomly pulling off to scream right in my ear? I try very hard to remind myself that this is my opportunity to slow down and savor the joy that is the breastfeeding bond. Oh, I do. As a breastfeeding advocate who looks around at other breastfeeding advocates, I am supposed to, apparently, paint you some rosey sweet visuals of sighing babies, contented at the breast- well, that’s a half truth. Those moments happen and when they happen, my god, it is truly one of the most blissful, “my god, I am so complete right now” moments you’ll ever have. But then there’s screaming acrobat baby who believes your tits are made from the same stuff stretch armstrong is. Those moments when your hair is being ripped from the scalp and the baby forcibly hurls milk across your chest. Or pees on you. There are funny moments, too, if you’re into fart humor- because a breastfeeding baby will often explode a massive, fart in swimming trunk sound as he or she fills their diaper- while nursing. I’ve had the beautiful moment turn into laughing so hard I cried over that one. (It was worth the grouchy baby. I have also tried to stifle that laughter and it felt like my eyeballs were going to bug out of my head. Just deal with the grouchy baby and let the belly laugh fly. It feels good enough to justify spending another ten minutes or whatever getting him or her back to sleep, trust me.)
And as a woman, you may go through many emotions, as a parent. Me? I’ve got a voracious sexual appetite. I do. This was not always so. I understand why when your baby is a newborn, sex becomes this weirdly foreign memory- but sometimes, it stays that way. This will either be because as a mother, you’re dealing with the above and just not feeling it, or it just happens- leaving you feeling totally dejected and sad. You think about how desirable you remember being. You think about quickies in the shower. About screwing all over the house- that same house which is now littered with baby gear, children’s toys and in my case, for some weird, baffling reason- tampons and airsoft pellets. Now, you’re a food source, an ass wiper, and a mother.
And the media, as well as society will insist to you that, that should be enough.
That is bullshit.
The media will also tell you that your male partner, if you’ve got one is a witless turd, lazy and completely oblivious to your needs. They will chuckle at this. They will show you images of a father holding a baby at arm’s length, baffled by a poopy diaper. They will show him as a sex fiending hound who doesn’t get that you’re exhausted. They’ll show you how you should be guilting him, how you should be shrugging and “Oh, men.” That’s not only bullshit, it’s degrading as hell to men, and it’s also a part of the overall problem. They will show you and instill in you a sort of shrugging, resigned acceptance that you are to be the long suffering mother, blessed beyond measure by this bliss that, well, in all honesty is actually moments, slapping off your sexually frustrated partner because you’re so exhausted from child rearing and he just does not get this, and, you, smiling that secret mother smile cross your arms over your chest because, clearly, you’re the superior one and you never, ever think, “I could punch you in the balls right now. I could do it and not feel remorse, you thoughtless shit.” (You’ll see this commonly on commercials that begin with “Mom, have you ever…” and the smile is usually on a head tilt, eyes full of knowledge and sometimes, a long suffering but good humored sigh. IF YOU GET TO THIS POINT- the ball-punching desire point? STOP. Take it on the chin, stay up after the child or children are sleeping and you talk it out. He is important to you, important enough he needs to know where you’re at and why. Grow up and TALK about it.)
The media and society will instill in you some stupid notion about the inevitability of you being unappreciated- save for those magical days of the year: your birthday and Mothers’ day, wherein, by god if they love you, they’ll buy you all manner of crap that does not matter and was most likely, mass produced by people not being paid nearly enough to do so.
These are not the things that matter, but they do illustrate fully those that DO matter.
They will tell you and show you everything but the truth. The truth is, it is hard. The truth is, no, your partner may not totally understand what it feels like to go from sexually vibrant woman to a strung out, ponytail wearing “I’m just happy this shirt doesn’t stink as bad as that one” mother. However that comes out- either in your sex drive becoming non existent or you desperately needing to be banged like a screen door in a hurricane. Whichever. He may not understand what its like to feel you have to ask permission to take a crap alone, with the door closed. A hot bath. A nap. He may not appreciate the fact that he can jump in the car, go grab whatever- without the hour long production that comes with taking a baby somewhere. He definitely won’t know what it’s like to have your nipple bitten, your boobs go lopsided or any of those other things. He understands different things- the pressures of fatherhood, and all that: and those pressures are very real and they do take a toll above and beyond the stupid bumbling dolt we see in the media. Of course, all these sitcoms won’t show you the long discussions you may have to have to save your relationship and get the support you need. They’re not there to do that. They’re there to make you chuckle about it being funny ’cause it’s SO true. They also give you this false idea about how it is, how it should be and what you should accept.
There’s also this disturbing and wholly inaccurate notion, spread by people who are in all actuality, probably more insecure than anyone that motherhood is the end all be all, that’s all she wrote, my life has all the meaning it needs. Stop doing that. Motherhood is definitely meaningful. It will definitely change your priorities and your perspectives. But, for some people it’s the steak on the plate. For others, it’s the potatoes. The plate is still there. People are not one thing or another. People are vast creatures with many sides. Gamer dice with many numbers. Motherhood may fill a need, but it does not fill them all. Descriptions need not be mother(PERIOD), but rather, mother(COMMA).
I love being a parent. I love being a mother. I love being a partner. That is not what I am saying and, inevitably when you vent about these things you will get someone who decides the very best way to console you is to tell you about someone’s kid dying, someone who could not have kids or whatever so you’ll appreciate the things you actually already DO appreciate. This is stupid. Don’t do that to your friend. Don’t do that to your sister. Your daughter. If she’s venting, she’s reaching out for support and she needs you. That doesn’t mean she does not love her kids. It doesn’t mean she should feel bad. It means, she’s a normal human being trying to adjust to one of the hardest, yet most rewarding things we do as human beings.
If you are a mother who is overwhelmed, you probably feel guilt. You shouldn’t.
If you feel baffled, unsure of what to do, totally intimidated and scared: again- there is nothing wrong with that.
If you think you have to “accept” certain things that you don’t actually approve of in your life, simply because, “Sigh, that’s motherhood”- you do not.
You are a mother and that’s important. You are also a woman. A human being with needs, wants, desires and goals- and these you should define with your own mind, not what someone else tells you that you should or should not. That is also important.
Don’t forget that.