Editorials

Mande Wilkes | The politics of parenting

I have all the answers. If you’ve followed my musings for any length of time, you know that. Having all the answers such that I do, I wasn’t the least bit anxious about having my first baby. I have all the answers, remember, so what could I possibly have to be anxious about? For years I’d read the baby books and followed the mommy blogs. I knew the right way to do things and, at least as importantly, I knew the wrong way to do things. I had this parenting thing down pat, well before I’d even conceived.

Well, let me tell you how that worked out. Can you guess? I bet you can guess.

First, a little background…

Despite the fact that I’m by nature not a planner (I’d rather go with the flow than swim against the current because what can I say, I prefer chaos to resistance), I sure had this mommy thing all planned out: Natural water birth, extended breast feeding, cloth diapering, homeschooling. And that’s just for starters, all things I’d planned about the baby’s first few years of life. Imagine the answers I had to issues that would come up later, like whether it’s OK for your teenage daughter to dress up as a “ho” for Halloween. (Answer: I don’t care what my kids dress up as for Halloween, but by gosh and by golly they will not be eating candy that contains high-fructose corn syrup.)

See? The answers, I have them all.

Anyway, back to the natural water birth and extended breast feeding and cloth diapering and homeschooling. Does all that sound tedious and time-consuming and just plain unnecessary? I don’t know if it is or it isn’t. Want to know what I do know? I now know a lot -- a lot! -- about c-section births (turns out being sliced open while you’re wide awake isn’t actually that bad), infant formula (expensive), and disposable diapers (expensive; also, go ahead and get the ones with the wetness indicator and thank me later for having all the answers).

As for homeschooling, I’m still -- perhaps foolishly -- holding on to that dream because I figure that something is bound to go right.

So now that so many of my attachment-parenting dreams have died (I know, I’m not dramatic at all), I’m sitting here Googling phrases like “bad mother” and “am I failing my baby” and “what’s the difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression.” It’s a good thing I’m holding the baby in one hand (don’t judge) because if I had both hands free to type, who knows what kinds of investigative Internet shenanigans I’d get into. Or what kinds of columns I’d write.

Speaking of my columns, remember when this one used to be about politics? Well, humor me. Just for today at least, I’m talking not about politics-politics but about the politics of parenting. Share your mommy-guilt stories with me, even if you have to send them by email while typing with only one hand. My inbox is waiting, and I’m waiting by my inbox. You’ll feel better once you share, trust me. I have all the answers, remember?

Contact Mande Wilkes, a local cultural commentator and new mother, at m@mandewilkes.com.

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