Know Better, Do Better

 

 

 

ad·vo·cate

 [v. ad-vuh-keyt; n. ad-vuh-kit, -keyt]  Show IPA

 

verb (used with object), ad·vo·cat·ed, ad·vo·cat·ing.

1.

to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly: He advocated higher salaries for teachers.
noun

2.

a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc. (usually followed by of ): an advocate of peace.

Image

 

I spend too much time on the internet. I have three tabs open right now so I can check my email, watch my Facebook notifications rack up and shop for new band shirts for the boys… while I blog. I run into a lot of characters online, and before I get started you should know, I like them all. Minus the trolls. Trolls divide us further and waste our time. But I like the rest of them, even the well meaning advocates that completely miss their mark.

Have you met these people? They have a cause and they are passionate about it. And I mean passionate. Their Facebook timeline is filled with daily memes and quotes and articles about the miracle of their chosen cause, or causes. For example, I post a metric shitton of stuff about coconut oil, vinegar and avocados. (A metric shitton is an actual unit of measurement I just invented equal to “many”) I threw out all of my store bought cleaners and hide the new ones The Barkeep keeps buying. I have spray bottles of vinegar water everywhere instead. I put it in my laundry. I take a shot of apple cider vinegar to clear my sinuses and use it to make salad dressing. I have coconut oil in my bathroom cupboard, the medicine cabinet and, of course, the kitchen. And I just really like avocados. They keep me full. They replace cheese when I’m doing well about skipping dairy. I am an advocate for these things. I want to inform other people about their benefits. You may recall I also love my cloth diapers (currently sitting unused thanks to all the chlorine in our water right now) and Baby Legs and wearing my babies. I feel strongly about these things and when they come up in conversation I try to control myself as I explain why.

I discovered most of these things online from other advocates. Advocating is a good thing. Sharing your passion is the best thing. I am an advocate for advocating. Do something. Spread the word, teach someone, show someone, just come down off of your high horse first and remember that you most likely weren’t born with this knowledge. And if you were, remember that not everyone came from your background, your income bracket, your side of town, your way of life. We are all learning, even as we advocate, and we should all be accepting of others who are learning at a different pace.

There are some things I feel strongly about that I’m not completely comfortable writing about in such a public format… yet. Sometimes when I present people with the facts about these things and they seem unimpressed, impassive or completely reject the facts, I want to pull my hair out. Then I remind myself, there was a time I was the same way. It’s hard to accept bold new information. They may have to hear it many times from many trusted sources. They may need to see it with their own eyes. They may just need time. They may never agree. This doesn’t mean a person is ignorant or uneducated. I mean, it doesn’t always mean that, I’m not trying to suggest you haven’t met some truly ignorant people, because I have. But not everyone who disagrees with you, no matter how “right” you are, is stupid. Wasting your time trying to convince them that they are is stupid.

I saw a lovely picture online of a father folding laundry while wearing his baby in a carrier. I went to comment and was shocked by the hateful comments before mine, referring to his carrier as a “crotch dangler” and calling him an idiot and a terrible father. Not only was this attack alarming to me, but so was the news that my carrier was actually a crotch dangler and could be harming my children. A “crotch dangler” is basically any forward facing carrier that makes the baby hang in front of you with it’s hips spread apart. This can overstimulate the baby and possibly cause medical issues. Many of the women commenting were claiming to be advocates of baby wearing, but I have to admit they turned me off of the idea for quite awhile. Something I once enjoyed became yet another reason to judge each other and call names. It made baby wearing seem complicated and only for a certain type of person, specifically snarky, know it all bitches. Thankfully I was added to a local baby wearing group on Facebook and discovered that was not (always) the case. I met actual advocates of baby wearing that would happily teach other parents what carriers worked best and how to use them.

Image

An advocate is a person who speaks for a cause, not against others. An advocate should be inclusive and strive to make others feel welcome to their cause, not alienate those with less or wrong information. That’s not advocating, that’s judging. Which is fine, do your thing, just call it what it is. You feel superior because you were informed first. Own it, just don’t call it advocating. It turns people off. If you want other people to join your cause, don’t be a jerk.  Now you know better and when you know better, you do better.

Advertisements

Your Baby Is Ugly And So Is Your Dinner

Recently The New York Times published this article about the unbaby.me web tool. Unbaby.me is a Google Chrome extension that will replace pictures of babies in your Facebook news feed with pictures of cats or something you find more pleasant. The article annoys me for a number of reasons and none of them the ones you would probably assume. I don’t care if you want to replace my kids’ pictures with pictures of sunsets and bacon but I’d prefer you just unfriend me and go meet people that post pictures of bacon. I over share but I rarely share pictures of bacon.

I don’t like the notion that parents are the only ones who over share. Dinner, music videos, concert announcements, sports, politics, viral videos, memes, ecards, sports scores, quotes that don’t even have pretty pictures as backgrounds, cars, sports updates, pets and more sports crap all take up equal space with children on my news feed. My personal news feed also has a lot of geeky stuff, Big Bang  Theory quotes, science jokes and Zombies but that is because I am a dork. If your news feed is dominated by baby pictures maybe what you need is not an app that replaces them, but a more diverse group of friends.

I don’t like the focus on hipsters and hipster parents. A lot of 20 and 30 something people choose to be child free without choosing skinny jeans and nerd glasses. A lot of parents choose to take their children out in public, even less family oriented areas, without being aging hipsters. And I really don’t like the quote that equates becoming a parent with getting old and boring. I hope that if you are child free and you read my blog that you are already coming to understand that that is a misconception.  I hope that if you have children and you feel boring that I am helping you realize it is time to dust off your impractical shoes and get out of the house.

I am also annoyed that they refer to one of my favorite sites without mentioning it by name. They even use the tagline from the blog without citing it as a source. The blog I am referring to is STFU, Parents. Apparantly the acronym “STFU” is too hardcore for the The New York Times. The blog is dedicated to outing parents for our parental over shares and while I don’t always agree with everything they post I do find it hilarious and possibly a good lesson for us. I do think a good number of us post too much information too often. I am including myself in this chastising. (Of course I over share, Why do you think I write a blog?) Parents aren’t the only ones who over share, though. Have you seen Instagram? Child free hipsters know how to overshare, too.

We are all still learning the rules of the internet. Social media is still in it’s toddler stage. Ya know, tantrums, hitting, not using words properly. Many of us will learn what is accepted and what is frowned upon as we grow simply through conversations and other people’s passive aggressive updates whining about what we do wrong. I suspect there will be far more of these articles as social media grows into it’s teen angst years. We will annoy each other and storm off to our rooms many more times and maybe never reach a full state of peace but at least a peace-like atmosphere between parents and the childfree, foodies and non-foodies, pet-owners and puppy kickers, sports fans and… people like me. I think it starts with realizing that the minute you create your Facebook page you become one of us, an over sharer. You may turn your nose up and claim you don’t over share, but, c’mon, you made a Facebook page.

(You may have noticed this blog post features more photos than usual. These beautiful baby pictures are in honor of baby haters. They can suck it.)

In Defense Of The Old Lady

I give “old ladies” a hard time because they give me a hard time. There is always some white haired grandma telling me to put socks on my baby (in July!) or that using a carrier will suffocate him. I’ve had a grandpa or two share words of wisdom, as well, but not as often as the female mitten police. Men prefer to tell me what not to do. “Oh, boys will be boys, you have to let them rough house.” I do let them rough house, I don’t let them rough house with forks in their hands. I’m over sensitive to stab wounds. Old ladies, though, they like to tell me what I’m doing wrong, and it is always something archaic or unimportant. It was a little chilly in the store the day that grandma told me my newborn needed socks but it was so hot and humid outside it was like walking through stew, I wasn’t going to bother digging socks that won’t stay on out of storage for 5 minutes in the store to grab bread. To me that is common sense, my favorite way to parent.

I was eavesdropping the other day at the mall play area. I never think to schedule a play date for these visits because they are often impromptu and generally when I have time to stop and play other moms are busy. Our schedule is hectic, to say the least. So, I eavesdrop and inject myself into other conversations to meet moms. If they think this is creepy they have never let on. Snarky McSnarkbritches and Dr. Google were talking to No Time On The Internet Mom about her many and various mistakes as a parent, from  juice to car seats to sleeping arrangements. I self consciously patted my hair, feeling for the few coarse gray hairs that have been popping in since Little S was born and bit my tongue to refrain from sounding like someone’s grandmother.

Having a 16 year age gap between children I have seen first hand the phenomenon my mother described to me when Goldilocks was a Golden Baby, still being put to sleep on her tummy as “current research” suggested. My mom pointed out how much “current research” had changed and cycled back to the same things over and over again just in the time since we were babies. Having a 16 year age gap between my oldest and youngest child I have now seen that research flux first hand and feel somewhat justified laughing at it.

Image

Shortly before Golden Baby was born it was still widely accepted to put juice in baby bottles. Can you imagine the scandal if you tried it today?

Other moms of young children that I talk to now about things I did in the past sometimes cluck their tongue and chalk my poor parenting choices up to being so young when the girls were little, but I was there and I can tell you, I was doing pretty damn good thanks to my awesome pediatrician and a healthy dose of common sense. I didn’t have the internet on my cell phone, I didn’t even have a cell phone. Goldy was born in 1994, when the internet was brand new, and parent shaming on a grand and global level was still on the horizon. I had to gather facts the old fashioned way. I read every parenting book I could get my hands on, listened to our doctors and then did what I thought was right.  I remember thinking the things my mother’s generation did were crazy and I’m sure Sharkboy’s generation will look back at us now and think how naive and uninformed we were. And we are. For everything we know there is so much we don’t know and may never know, which is why it would serve us well to sit down and shut up about the things we think we know.

This video clip was recorded a year before Goldilocks was born.

After you read this conduct your own experiment. This works best on Facebook or another social media site.  Ask your friends when a child should see the dentist for the first time. Don’t bother charting it out but find a rough percentage of how many people say they absolutely must go by the age of one. Then calculate about what percentage say that is completely and ridiculously unnecessary because their doctor said they could wait until their child was three. Add those two numbers together on a post it note and shred it in the garbage disposal. Only listen to and hang out with the remainder of the people that quietly told you their opinion without trying to impress upon you that it was the only right answer. Smile politely at everyone else.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends visiting at the sign of their first tooth or by their first birthday.  Beauty and Goldy both went at age three as recommended at the time and they have nearly perfect teeth still today. Sharkboy went at 16 months, exactly one year from the date he got his first tooth and had a full set of teeth, all in great shape. Little S has 6 teeth and will probably go soon after turning one. My point isn’t that you’re doing it wrong. My point is that “current research” and “expert opinions” don’t even always agree, so it is unlikely that we will all make the same choices with our children, even if we all choose to follow the path of research and experts. And, if like me, you have seen all of that change and change back again, you might be inclined to smile politely or  laugh out loud at people who think they have it all figured out.

Which brings me to the old ladies and their constant advice.  Granny was probably chilly in the air conditioning. She saw bare toes and thought, “That baby needs socks.” And it’s very likely she chuckled at me when I told her, “He’s fine, thanks.” Because we both thought we had it all figured out. Even common sense can take us down varying paths.

Macaroni For Dinner

I always say I don’t like to cook but that’s a lie. I enjoy cooking and I absoluely love it when I create something that my kids like eating. It’s cooking dinner on time either before or after a 45 minute commute with two young children hanging on the baby gate sobbing for food and attention and two teenagers needing papers signed and tape for a project and permission to log on to Facebook that makes me want to order Dominos every single day. And night. And do they have breakfast pizza?

Worse than cooking in a house full of kids, though, is cleaning up the mess made from cooking. So many dishes. Pots and pans and spatulas and serving spoons and plates and seriously, can’t you just eat with your fingers? We’re out of forks. At the end of the day you could eat off of my floor, not because it’s so clean but because there is enough food down there to create a meal. Don’t worry, I’ll clean it up… eventually.

So, it’s easier just to say I don’t like cooking. It’s even easier to heat up some chicken nuggets, steam a bag of broccoli and cut up a banana and call it done. It takes less than 10 minutes to make and less than 10 minutes to clean up if you don’t count banana goo removal from the baby’s hair.

I’m at peace with this. When The Barkeep is home he really does enjoy cooking and I’m here to entertain the kids and field any questions about where to find paper or watching Mighty Machines. They’re getting a variety of different foods and I always cover all the food groups. Sure, better meals are being served somewhere but next door to them a parent is serving McDonald’s. I don’t consider myself above the McDonald’s mom, though, she probably has immaculate floors.

Some time after dinner is served and the teenagers are forced to load the dishwasher and I find the broom, I like to get back online and search the internet for advice on potty training and smart mouth teenagers. The internet is full of amazing advice and information and useful tips. You could spend days reading about just one topic, like potty training or healthy meal ideas. I like to pin these things to Pinterest so the next time I come home tipsy and don’t feel like sleeping yet I have something to read. The internet is also full of other moms looking for information and tips. We sometimes like to gather in communities, like message boards or Facebook groups.

A weird thing happens when people gather online. If you put a mostly polite and sensible group of mothers together in a real life situation there will be mostly polite and sensible conversation. There may be some passive aggressive cattiness or raised eyebrows, but it generally stays civil. Put that same group of women on an internet message board and suddenly you have the world’s most renowned expert on potty training and breast feeding, her sister Dr. Google and their BFF Snarky McSnarkbritches. If you have kids over 6 months old and you’ve spent any time online you have met them, sometimes entire groups of them.

I’m sure by now they have told you you are poisoning your precious child with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. That’s why I’m here, to set the record straight. My parents occaisionally served me macaroni and cheese throughout my childhood and I am still here to tell you about it. It was delicious and I survived. I also drank kool-aid and ate potato chips and *gasp* hot dogs. There are worse things you can feed your kids. My baby eats carpet fuzz and he’s made it all the way to 10 months old.

I plan to blog about a lot of different stuff, not just parenting and kids, but I wanted to start with a theme that is on my mind a lot. Mom shaming? The Mommy Wars? Call it what you want, I call it a bunch of insecure women trying to make other women just as insecure in some pointless attempt to bolster their own self esteem. You know what actually bolsters your self esteem? Helping. Try it.

Nap is over. I’m going to give the kids a special treat. Cake! Not only cake, but yesterday it was a boob cake. Mmm boobies. And that is as close as I’m ever going to get to talking about the breastfeeding debate.