What makes us so threatening?

I was discussing the sanctimommy phenomena and the judging I’ve been subjected to in person with my aunt, who often sees through an action and figures out the heart of the issue.

Take for example, the typical sanctimommy, she has a couple of kids and a husband, a traditional family.  She often stays at home, and she feels she has done her “research” and knows what is best for her kids.  So she spends her time helecoptering around them, interfering with their arguments, making sure they do what they are supposed to, eat only the finest organic foods, breastfeeds her baby until the child is a toddler, spends time with other sanctimommies in play groups or mommy groups, talks mostly of her children or her husband or a practical hobby she shares with other sanctimommies.  She researches daily what other sanctimommies are doing that they feel is best for their child and the environment of one-upmanship begins.  So she is a constant cycle of figuring out the next best thing for her children while being completely exhausted by what she is currently trying to do. Not to mention that she has to make sure to look good and not let anyone know that she is exhausted.

But, she is a mom.  She is exhausted. No matter how we choose to parent our children, we are tired.  And her perhaps even more so because she has to live up to the expectations of the other similar mothers.

And then one evening she goes out, and she meets someone decidedly skepparent.  Someone who lets her children regulate themselves.  Who doesn’t feel the need for a certain amount of children.  Who isn’t afraid to let her children out of her sight because she knows the environment and knows her children and what they can handle.  Who has allowed her children to learn independence carefully and within boundaries.  Whose children, even despite these “unideal” circumstances, are extremely well behaved, and do regulate themselves as expected. And it is just so unheard of in the sanctimommy world that she can’t fathom it, and she just HAS to say something.  And when the skepparent reiterates her unconcern with the sanctimommy philosophy, well, that must be rather threatening!

After all, you’ve been raising your children a certain way and exhausting yourself with varying results, and here before you sits a woman who knows her children so well she is unconcerned about all the research you have done.

Are any of the actions of the sanctimommy or the skepparent inherently wrong?  Is breastfeeding to the age of 2 (or 3 or 4) wrong? Is feeding your child organic food wrong? Is letting your child regulate herself wrong?  No.  It is the nature in which they are being done.  The problem ends up being the one-upmanship environment, the sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice rather than for the sake of the children. The buying into certain behaviors just because other sanctimoms are doing it.

Just as a sanctimommy will feel threatened by other sanctimommies who are parenting in a more extreme manner than she is, she will feel threatened by the skepparent.  But, if you skepparent, doing your own research and listening to your childs cues, you have confidence in your parenting.  Does this mean that you stop asking advice or listening to constructive critisicm?  No, but it does help you weed out the constructive from the judgemental.  And that gives you way more freedom and energy than you will get by exhausting yourself worrying about what other mothers think.

Every child is different

The major problem I see with sanctimommies is that this parenting philosophy fails to take into account that every single child is different.  Sanctimommies seem more interested in being a certain kind of mother than they are in figuring out what their child actually needs in order to thrive.

Once I got used to the idea of being pregnant with Bug, I became very excited about it.  All my life I had heard of women who just kept saying how much they loved being pregnant.  So I assumed I’d feel the same way.  Trouble is, I ended up feeling disenchanted.  I just wanted someone to be honest with me.  It just wasn’t the walk in the park I had anticipated, and I felt that everyone around me was lying for some strange reason, and I couldn’t figure it out.  I didn’t understand why people wouldn’t want to be HONEST about the experience.  I mean, no one had really told me that I’d want to sleep 20 out of 24 hours in the day.  That I wouldn’t be able to walk into the kitchen without smelling the garbage, even if it didn’t smell bad per se.  That I would be sick most of the time and most foods would not be in any way appealing to me.  This just wasn’t what I had expected, but I found that the more honest I was about how I felt, the more honest answers I’d get from women who were pregnant or mothers who had felt the same.

So rather than buying into the myth that pregnancy was fun and games, I began to immerse myself into parenting books.  Rather specifically Dr. Sears.  And so I began believing that attachment parenting would be the best way to go.

Now, before those of you who know me are shocked and appalled, please realize that I had some very good reasons behind this.  In my mothers day, I believe it was Dr. Spock who had told a generation of women that co-sleeping was a very poor idea, and that all children must sleep on their own and cry it out.  You know what?  This also was a fallacy that did not take a child’s’ needs into consideration, so I’d grown up hearing stories about what a difficult baby I was until my parents gave up on Dr. Spock and did what was best for me.  Which was basically attachment parenting.  (Incidentally, when my brother came along, my mom attempted the same attachment parenting and it didn’t work for my brother at all, proving that a parent should be able to adjust to a child’s needs.) So, I assumed I would probably have a child who was like me, and I wanted to be prepared for that.

And then Bug entered my life.  Loudly, I might add.  I tried to do all Dr. Sears had advised, but she was HUNGRY!  So after “doing right by her” and breastfeeding appropriately, I’d have to top her off with formula. And there was the co-sleeping thing.  It became apparent very shortly that if she and I shared a bed, neither of us would get any sleep.  In fact, even sharing a room didn’t work.  She and I both had to be separate (and still do to this day) because if either of us hears a movement from the other, we awaken with adrenaline pumping.  Even a change in breathing pattern across the room would cause this reaction to me.  There was never that peaceful wake/sleep/nurse pattern that Dr. Sears talked about, instead there was only hour after hour of waking every 45 minutes or so because someone changed position.

And then I got smart, and I listened to what I thought was best, and I put her in her crib, upstairs, in her own room.  And guess what?  We BOTH slept and we were both better for it.

In the end, we managed to come up with our own idea of attachment parenting.  Combinations of what worked and what didn’t work. For instance, Miss Bug did want to be held most of the day and was at her best in a front pack. It worked well for us.  Had she preferred sitting in a bouncy seat, we would not have felt guilty about that either.  Skeptachment parenting?

So the free flow of memories from Bug’s early days does bring me to a point.  Why would a mother, any mother, choose to read a book and believe this is the best way?  This didn’t work for my parents generation and it isn’t working for mine.  Instead, it feeds the sanctimommy ego when her child prefers her chosen way of parenting, and it generates an appalling amount of guilt for the mother whose child needs something different.  Is that really working for anyone?  I’d rather choose to read all the literature I can get my hands on, ask the advice of a WIDE variety of people whom I respect, and having done my research, fine tune my parenting to fit my child.

Us skepparents though, are subjected to a surprising amount of critique, criticism, and sometimes downright animosity by the sanctimommy.  Just for attempting to meet the needs of our own children.  I think I know a possible reason, but I’ll save that for tomorrow.

Skeptical Parenting

I’ve so much to say on this particular subject that I can barely contain myself.  Trouble is, if I try to say it all today, we are going to have some very unorganized thought processes.  So, I’d rather do a short series as I process certain aspects of these thoughts.

Suffice it to say, when I was pregnant with Bug, I bought into the whole sanctimommy movement.  But by the time she was 2 weeks old, I found that I felt very differently than I had expected to, and without knowing there was terminology for it, I became a skepparent. And I did so quite quietly without much cerimony, just doing what I thought was best for Bug and for us as a family.  It certainly worked for us.

Now that one of my best friends out here has given birth to her son AJ 8 weeks ago, she has started the SkepParent blog. Fortunately for us, she has similar views to mine and is quite logical in her thinking. But her blog, and an experience about a week ago or so, has really gotten me thinking about sanctimommies and how we become them, why we become them, and what harm this is doing to us.

I decided to work on a few posts of my own because I was totally spamming her comment section, and it is, after all, her blog.  On the other hand, I find the discussion of this very interesting and am looking forward to further discussion.

A ride for Bug

So all summer long Bug and I have been attempting to convince her dad to give us back the bike trailer.  After all, I’ve been biking quite a bit this summer and it would be great to have her along.  Additionally I had it on pretty good order that he was not using it. (Since it was in pieces in two different homes, neither of which was his own.)  We bugged, pleaded, and cajoled, and J even decided that we should just purchase a new one since it was becoming such a hassle to get the old one back.  But I didn’t want to do that, as Bug will really only be in a trailer for a short time.  About a month ago I got one piece of the trailer back.  It took another month to get the rest.  But…we have it and tonight I took Bug on her first ride of the season.

Picture 1136

As you can clearly see, she barely fits in the trailer anymore.  Originally we had thought that Orangekathy would pull her in order to slow O’kathy down a bit.  But we soon figured out that the hitch didn’t really work that way.  So, I ended up doing the pulling.  I guess I shouldn’t have done those 21 flights of stairs today?

The entire ride was a little sketchy since it kept threatening to rain.  We cut it fairly short because of this, and that was probably good as my legs were exhausted, hips and knees a bit sore.  I think the trouble is that I need to learn to gear it WAY down when I am pulling her.

Picture 1137

Bug, perfectly content in her “small space,” got very annoyed with us and almost teary when we told her we needed to stop.  I heard about it the entire way home, how it was not raining, it didn’t rain, and she knew that dark threatening cloud wasn’t going to rain.  I promised her a ride next week.

Picture 1138

I may yet regret this…

In other biking and Bug news, we received a used tow bike for free today!  I was thrilled to pieces over this fact!  Bug wants nothing at all to do with it, but I can’t wait to see her use it! I mean, a little help on the hills already!

A shawl update

I am at the point where my shawl is moving along fairly quickly.  I am very pleased about this, as I’d like to get it done before August 10.  So I thought it was time for a little update:

Picture 1135

A first for me

A colorwork sock.  I’ve never done one before.  But SKA July challenge is colorwork and I thought I could make a pretty one by pairing a dark yarn with some handspun.  The handspun is a very early spinning attempt of mine, but I don’t think it looks bad at all in this case.  The pattern as written is far too short for my taste.  I experimented with a different way of elongating the leg portion but ended up frogging that and going with a second repeat of the star pattern.  Doesn’t this rather look like a quilt block?

Picture 1134

What am I to do?

With all the peppers in the garden?

I figured I could perhaps pickle them.  Except, I don’t like vinegar. I do, on the other hand, like traditionally prepared olives.  Which contain peppers, which I love to eat.  So, instead, I pickled my peppers using the salt brine, lemon, olive oil mixture one would prepare olives with.

Aren’t they pretty?

Picture 1133