Evengelical Parenting

I am becoming more and more convinced that there are certain segments of the population for whom the act of raising children closely resembles the conversion that happens when folks become Evangelical Christians. I know because in the past I was closely aligned with Evangelical Christianity, now I consider myself a simple Christian.

Yet in the early days of my coming to Christ, I was passionate and on fire for Jesus always looking for a chance to share my story and lead folks to Christ. In the past I attended churches where the leaders implored us to testify often, where we were told that if we did what Christ and thus the Bible said then health and prosperity would be ours. Only problem with such dialogue is that if one truly reads the Bible and studies it, never once does it say that if you come to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior that you are on easy street. Good health and financial prosperity are not the rewards for being a Christian. Yet folks like Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyers both who in my two cent opinion would be better served as inspirational speakers insist that God wants you to be healthy and wealthy. Um…that is simply not true. Now I am not about to turn this into a biblical discussion but if you want to ask me why I think this way, feel free to leave a comment or email me.

Nowadays when we choose to have kids unlike our parents and grandparents we have so many choices. Hell before the baby even arrives earth side we must decide how we want the child to arrive. Do we use the medical model and use an OB, or do we use a midwife? Do we birth at home? Hospital? Freestanding birthing center? Shit, the kid hasn’t even arrived and we have to make all these damn decisions. I must admit back in 1991 when I was pregnant with my son, I didn’t have all these choices, he was born in an hospital with an OB. Now I will be the first to say that choices are good, believe me women we need choices when it comes to how we give birth. Problem I have is too many of us put too much damn stock into individual details not realizing parenting is a journey, one that you may start off with the best of intentions but like a bad vacation, shit just happens.

Now it appears that one of the biggest choices that women face is whether or not they should breastfeed their baby. Clearly there are amazing benefits to breastfeeding, while I did not breastfeed my son in part because I knew nothing about it, I did later go on to nurse my second child for three and a half years. It’s quite funny that I nursed that long considering I was ambivalent about breastfeeding, in large part because I was not personally familiar with it. I started off with a goal of nursing 6 weeks and went on for years because I opened my mind and got informed but also because at the time I bought into some of the hype. I admit that will probably piss some of ya’ll off but the truth is that some women in their zeal to see more women breastfeed will tell you all sorts of amazing things will happen if you nurse.

Yes, there are some breastfed babies who are healthier than formula fed babies, yes some women do lose weight while nursing but guess what? I was not one of those women, hell I gained 50lbs in 8 months while nursing, see I took that you will lose weight thing way too seriously and forgot to remember that if you consume way more calories than you burn off that you will gain.

The more zealous lactivist though will have you thinking that should you nurse your babies that well, bad things will never come your way. Look, nothing could be further from the truth. I have been following this story. In case you are not up for clicking, it’s the story of Katie Allison Granju, back in the 1990’s she wrote the book on attachment parenting and some credit her for creating the word lactivist. I read her book when the kidlet was a baby and often wondered what happened to her, not realizing until a few months ago that she was still a writing Mama. Her story in many ways is tragic; losing a child is hands down one of the worst things than can happen to you. In her case despite being a gentle and thoughtful parent, her eldest got involved with drugs.

Granju’s story has haunted me in part because her lovely son Henry was the same age as my boy, the same day that my son was graduating from high school, Granju was saying good bye to her son. I admire the hell out of Granju and how she continues to go on and hell even blog through her grief. I can only imagine that most days it takes such strength and courage to go on and please know that in no way am I saying anything negative about this Mama. However Granju in a recent piece confessed that she is not nursing her new baby, pretty ironic that the woman who wrote the book on parenting and breastfeeding is not breastfeeding. It was in the comment section to her piece where a nerve was struck for me where most folks let her know it was okay to not nurse after all she has suffered one hell of a loss. Yet one commenter really felt compelled in my opinion to lay a guilt trip on Granju.

Look nursing is great but its only one of many parts of parenting. Truth is I had my first kid at 19, didn’t follow any books, made a shitload of mistakes in raising him yet he is one of the most thoughtful humans I know…how we got him I do not know, but am thankful that he chose me to be his Mama. I have a 5 year old who I followed all the current protocol with and there are days frankly where I want to beat my head against the wall. My daughter is not an easy child to parent and daily my dreams and assumptions are dismantled and challenged with her.

Point is, this parenting gig is the hardest you will ever have, and folks who speak in absolutes have no idea what the fuck they are talking about. Parenting is hard enough without zealots running around making us feel bad. So I say down with evangelical parenting. Just parent your kid to the best of your ability and trust that it will all work out.

Let’s be honest, it is hard work

Time to revisit that parenting/motherhood thing. Its been a rather challenging few days up here in my corner of the world. First off Mama is dealing with PMS and it seems with each passing month that mothering and PMS do not go together…all I want to be honest is to be left the fuck alone. Seriously, I just want to relax and veg out on bad fiction (re-reading VC Andrews first books at the moment) and bad TV (silly programming on Bravo and maybe Lifetime for real cheese-ball factor). I want to eat junk food and generally just be in the zone.

The problem though is that I have a super active almost 4 year old daughter (known to regulars as mini-me, for she looks a lot like me and acts like it too) and despite having a uber helpful husband, mini me is just not wanting  to hang out with him.  As you can imagine, this can create a lot of tension, it meant this weekend, I helped my girl create construction paper eggs and other Easter decorations when all I wanted to do is sleep. In the end it was fun and I enjoyed myself but I am still tired and extra cranky.

Thing is this parenting gig is hard work, I have said it before but I will keep saying it, parenting effectively is not for the weak. There is nothing that can prepare you for parenting, I did it the first time as a young woman and figured it was my lack of education and maturity that made the job hard at that time. So I waited almost 14 years before I tried again, in that time acquiring an education, skills and a solid marriage. So I was sure this time it would be easy since the first time it must have been hard because I was woefully unprepared. Nope, this time I got a kid whose energy level is insane…..seriously, mini-me came out the womb requiring little sleep and demanding 150% of my efforts. No mere 100% was good enough for her. There are days I look back fondly on when I was a single Mama with my son, at least he was a mellow child and my concerns were on feeding us and keeping us housed.

Let me say it again, parenting is not for the weak. Which is why I get amused with the writings from fellow Mamas and how when they strive to be truthful those who live and die on the altar of motherhood, get all up in arms. Check out this blog piece by the NY Times Judith Warner. She talks about an article in another publication and about the downside of pumping breast milk. In the past few days I have seen Judith and the other author get roasted, my goodness we all know breast milk is best at least that is what they started telling us after I had my first kid in 1992. In 1992, there simply was not the push to or rush to make women breastfeed.

Now before anyone gets ready to roast me on breastfeeding, let me just say I have proper breastfeeding credentials, I won’t get specific other than to say I nursed my daughter for over 2 years, so I am above the national average when it comes to nursing. So I feel that I am in a place to comment but truth is nursing is hard work. The first 18 months of my daughter’s life I never slept longer than 3 hours at a time. I thought was going to die, I was so tired and run down that my husband put his foot down and took her out of our bed so that I would sleep. See, this is the shit folks don’t tell you about….that at 18 months you still won’t be sleeping. New mothers expect that they won’t sleep in the first weeks after a baby’s arrival but a year and a half later? No one tells you that and in my case I had done this mothering gig before. You have no idea how many times I blamed breastfeeding with my girl’s inability to sleep, my son slept through the night early on, so I expected the same thing.

No, its easy as to idealize motherhood when you aren’t in the trenches or you have the mellow kid but for those us deep in the trenches with a high maintenance kid, our eyes are wide open. Which is why Oprah’s most recent show (disclosure, I didn’t watch it but a friend told me about it and I saw some clips and read up on it on Oprah’s site) about Mamas being truthful really struck a chord with me…why don’t women ever talk about the bad shit and why is it bad when we do. It doesn’t mean we don’t love our kids but my goodness sometimes you wish you had a mute button or a pause button to hit when your kid is driving you ape-shit. Shit, sometimes I wish I had that button for my Spousal Unit and I bet he wishes there was one for me as well.

Yet while its a hard job, the love we receive back makes it oh so sweet and I would trade my girl for nothing in the world.