|Even Daleks approve of baby-wearing.|
When Squid was about 10 months old, I took her into a convenience store to grab a drink and a snack. At the time, she wasn't walking, so she would still allow me to wear her in a sling. The cashier oohed and aahed over my adorable baby girl and complimented me on baby-wearing. I smiled and said thank you and tried to pay for my items. But the cashier went on....
"I'll bet you breastfeed, too. All the people I know who wear their babies breastfeed for a long time."
I was a bit shocked. Not really used to having strangers ask what I do with my breasts. Not sober, at least. I stumbled a bit, then replied, "Ummm... No. We tried, but it didn't work out too well for us, so we had to switch to formula." And, once again, I believed that would be the end of the discussion. I would pay for my frickin' Powerade and be on my merry way.
The cashier had other ideas. She was appalled that I wasn't breastfeeding. Didn't I know that it was best for baby (you know, in case I missed all that at the hospital and doctor's offices)? Did I really try hard enough? You know, everyone can breastfeed if they try hard enough. Aren't I worried about the long-term consequences of not breastfeeding?
Looking back, I wish I had not been so polite. I wish I would have told the lady that it was none of her fucking business and to let me raise my child as best as I could. My only defense is that I was shocked that a complete stranger had the gall to ask me such personal questions. I clumsily answered as best as I could, paid for my stuff, and walked home and cried.
Mommies can't win. If we don't breastfeed, we're jeopardizing their health. If we breastfeed longer than society feels is appropriate, we are causing irreparable mental damage. If we wear our baby in a sling, we are spoiling her. If we put her in a stroller, we are inattentive. We receive judgment and criticism for everything we do and are quickly taught not to trust our own instincts in raising our own children.
Last year, Time ran an article about attachment parenting with a mother breastfeeding a 3-year-old on the cover and it started a major brouhaha. People on all sides suddenly had serious opinions on the issue and most were brutal. There was a lot of criticism over extended breastfeeding. Many women felt even more pressure to do things exactly right, or risk ruining their child forever.
|Some women on Facebook cut through all the BS.|
Greg and I practice our own modified version of attachment parenting. Squid slept in our room until she was too big for the co-sleeper. We considered letting her sleep in the bed, but Greg has sleep apnea and uses a CPAP at night. Plus, Squirmy Baby giggles every time the bed bounces. Even in her sleep.
I wore her nearly everywhere for the first year. Once she outgrew the Moby, we switched to a sling. And once she started walking.... well, Squirmy Baby won't stay in the sling for long, unless she's sleepy.
I received criticism from well-meaning people for both choices. And for picking her up every time she cried for the first several months. I was spoiling her. I was going to make her clingy. She would never learn to walk if I carried her (because babies in strollers learn so much about walking). I kept doing what I was doing because it felt right to me. I never judged those who did things differently, although I was happy to tell people why I did what I did. I even had one friend who said he and his wife would most likely get a bassinette with the next baby, since his wife had trouble sleeping with the baby in another room for the first couple of months. Co-sleeping seemed to hippy-like to him until I explained the benefits.
Now I have a very social, extremely active toddler. I like to think it's because of what I have done, but the fact is that she might have turned out this way regardless of what parenting style we chose. I think, in the end, she is generally friendly and happy because she has two parents who love her immensely and who want her to be happy, healthy, and well-adjusted. We do our best. We are generally flying blind. We are blessed with a variety of friends who are raising/have raised great kids using a all sorts of techniques.
And that's all any mommy or daddy can do. We do what we can. We screw up. We try to fix it. We screw up again. And at the end of the day, we hope for the best. I'm not screwing up my child because I carried her everywhere, but still fed her formula. I'm pretty sure pics like these are what's going to screw her up later on:
|Mommy played The Dead Milkmen to me in utero.|