After Monday’s entry about my monstrous day, I received a few emails and texts from friends: Was everything ok? Was I losing it, again? (Thank you, by the way, for your concern.) I want to assure my handful of readers that I am fine…I’m almost always fine. Perhaps my prior entry needs some explanation:
Remember that Time magazine cover a few weeks back; the one with the hot mom breast-feeding her three year old, casting a “go ahead, mock me…I dare you” sort of stare? Well I’m a lot like her. Ok, so I’m a little heavier, a lot older, shorter, brunette, and while breastfeeding my 2 ½ year old my boob looks more like an empty pastry bag than a delicious short stack, but other than those differences we are the same. We are moms who breastfeed our toddlers at an age that makes most other people shudder.
This is not something I readily admit. I am not necessarily ashamed or proud of the fact that I still nurse my two and a half year old a couple of times a day. It’s just something we do. I weaned my older son before he turned two but with the baby I know he’s may last child and we’ve been so unsettled this year, moving cross country, living in several temporary homes, buying our first house, etc. that I just wanted him to have that one thing (ok, two things) that he can count on. I’ve stopped telling friends because the reaction I get is rarely positive. I’ve been commanded to stop and told it’s time for an intervention. I get asked “are you still nursing?” with a tone that implies “please say no!” Even my husband would like this takeover of my breasts to be done already. I’m not sure how I feel about it but I know I’m terribly frightened of what my breasts will look like when all the milk has dried up. Yikes!
Truth be told, I still love breastfeeding my little man. I’m a big proponent of breastfeeding and many other things that fit under the umbrella known as “attachment parenting.” I know this might sound surprising as I seem more of a “get my kids the FUCK away” from me kind of mama, and truthfully that’s how I feel most days, but when it comes to certain fundamentals, my inner hippie has emerged. Both boys were born naturally (i.e. without drugs, not just through the vagina tunnel): Cole at a birth center; Gage at home. Yes, it was planned. My boys are anteaters (i.e. uncircumcised); I used cloth diapers, wore them in slings, made my own organic baby food, and never let them cry it out. Sounds like the chapters of the Dr. Sears’ Baby Book, right?
Despite my commitment to this type of parenting, I did not become a martyr for the cause. I did not adopt this practice because I thought it was the right way to parent. I just felt it was right for me. Interestingly enough, however, when you do certain things with your baby (i.e. breastfeed him in public, wear him in a sling, etc.), you get labeled. You are an earthy/crunchy, hippie-dippy mama. Although I am definitely left of center, I am certainly no hippie. I eat meat, shop at Target, and love my non-organic, non-local wine. Nonetheless, the label was firmly attached. Moms who knew me often assumed I was a vegetarian, pointing out the veggie burger option at the playgroup barbeque. They went so far as to apologize to me personally for driving big SUVs (“we really need that third seat!”…as if I give a shit). I believe I saw several of them checking out my underarms for excessive hair. Let me assure you that if they found hair there, it was not because I was making a statement against shaving; it was merely the fact that I hadn’t showered in days and my hair grows like a weed. It’s tough being of Italian heritage in Southern California!
I did not judge, nor begrudge, other moms who parented differently. I will, however, admit that I felt pangs of jealousy when they talked about how their babies were sleeping peacefully after a few nights of sleep-training, or how they still worked out at the gym and had dates with their husbands. I, on the other hand, walked around in a sleep-deprived coma for the first year of life. As for sitters and the gym, it just didn’t feel worth the effort. I remember joining the Y, where they had free childcare and a great yoga class. I left my son in the hands of a cute but ridiculously young-looking babysitter who had been charged with watching over an army of snot-ridden toddlers. I felt slightly guilty as I snuck away, but I had to try, right? Inevitably about 20 minutes into class I would see that teenager walking toward the door in her Y polo shirt. I knew she was coming for me. My baby had been crying since I left; they couldn’t calm him down. Could I come and get him? Ugh… Everyone told me to stick with it but it was really hard to relax and be all zen, knowing that my baby was screaming for me. Ok, he wasn’t really a baby…I believe he was almost two but that didn’t make it any easier for me. I know many moms who dropped their babies off the first day they were allowed: age six weeks. I just couldn’t do it. Do I wish I had done it differently? I’m not sure. The sacrifice felt worth it since babyhood is such a short period of time and I have my whole life to sleep, do yoga, and have dates.
The problem is that I went and had another baby thus prolonging this period of deprivation for longer than ever imagined. So here I am, five and a half years later, and life is starting to feel like Mommy prison. Things have gotten better, I admit. I do use babysitters fairly often and have actually had several full nights of sleep. But at the end of the day, I am having a hard time putting my needs ahead of theirs, and, as you can probably tell if you’ve been reading this blog, they often drive me bat-shit. I yell; I scream; I rant; I’ve even spanked a couple of times. Hell, I’ve done and said things I never would have thought possible. Who’s kidding who? I’m no “attachment parent” anymore. I’ve become a crazy person, looking like white trash as I swear at my kids, while dragging them kicking and screaming out of Target. Dr. Sears would never write a book advocating my current parenting practices. I feel fairly certain that Dr. Sears would instead write me a nice script of anti-anxiety meds and tell me to drop the charade.
So now I’m in search of a new guru. Stay tuned as I’ll review the books I’ve read, and discuss their impact on my parenting, in my next entry. Yes I still read…something I do while breastfeeding. So there.
© 2012 KIM KINZIE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPUBLICATION OR REDISTRIBUTION OF CONTENT, TEXT OR IMAGE, IN PART OR IN WHOLE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT FROM THE AUTHOR.Tags: attachment parenting, breastfeeding, Dr. Sears, extended breastfeeding, motherhood