Monday, March 24, 2008

Who's Weird?

I go to Library Babies (I'm not sure that's what it's really called, but that's what I call it) every week with the Princess. We both love going. Two librarians switch off, every other week. One is pretty good. And the other is AWESOME! We sing songs, do finger plays, read books, and watch the librarians with puppets. I really think the Princess likes watching the other kids. And I like talking to the other moms.

The first week we went (about a month ago), I sat down beside a nice looking lady and her baby girl. I figured the baby was closest to the Princess in age, most of the other kids were toddlers. The mom and I exchanged casual hellos and went on to sing and play with our babies. Then the mom got up to change her baby's diaper. And she pulled out of her diaper bag...CLOTH DIAPERS!! I was shocked. Even though I have a few new friends who cloth diaper, I have never seen anyone out and about who uses cloth. I got really excited and started talking to this mom about it.

Then two weeks later, I walked into the conference room at the library with the Princess in a sling, like usual. A lady playing with her toddler daughter looked up at me and said rather shocked, you're wearing your baby! It was kind of a question, but mostly a shocked statement. She went on to say that she had never seen anyone else wearing their baby out and about. I commented that I had not either. I get stopped a lot and asked about it, but I never see anyone else wearing a baby. This lady and I ended up talking about being AP parents and babywearing. It was fun to see someone in my community having similar parenting styles that I have.

I tell you these library stories to share another story that happened at the Pediatrician's office. Now, this is not a place that I enjoy going. These people are supposed to know what they are talking about, and every time I go there, I have to remind myself that they see the Princess for 15 minutes every couple of months. I am the Princess's momma, and I live with her. While they know a lot medically, they may not be the best people to tell me how to raise my baby.

At our last visit, I was led into the office and told to undress the Princess to her diaper. I knew they were going to weigh her, so I checked to see if her diaper was wet. It was, so I proceeded to change her. I had a wipe out, and was getting ready to spray it, when the nurse walked in. She looked at me quizzically and said, that's different! Very sarcastically.

Well I don't have to tell you that I am getting very annoyed with being called weird and looked at like I have a third eye because of my parenting choices. So I decided to turn the tables. I looked at her like she had a third eye and said (a bit too sarcastically, I realized later), it's a cloth diaper! It wasn't really all that bad, what I said. It was just my tone. I said cloth diaper like other people say weird to me. Like they are the ones who are weird for not knowing what a cloth diaper is or not using them (I honestly do not think people are weird for not using cloth. I realize it is a commitment that some people are not willing to make).

At LLL last month, another mom was talking about this very thing. She was saying how "normal" has changed for her family. They used to think that breastfeeding into toddler-hood was weird, and co-sleeping was weird, and baby-wearing was weird, and cloth diapering was weird. And now all of that is normal for them. If they see someone formula feeding or talk to someone who doesn't co-sleep, they think those people are weird.

The King and I had a long discussion about this over the course of about three days. We need to stop thinking of things as normal and weird. We need to accept that people are different. We choose different parenting styles because we are different. And we need to quit judging others because they don't do things the same way that we do. Our definition of "normal" needs to change. We are all normal. And we are all weird. And we are all different. And we are all doing the best we can at a job that is, quite possibly, the hardest one we have ever been given.


Anonymous said...

I just finished reading your WHO'S WEIRD blog and I feel judged by you because I am the mother of a disposable diaper wearing child. I choose disposable because I feel that is what is best. NOT because I can not commit to cloth. I also and sick of people who have been blessed in different ways like staying at home, or people who have unlimited money or the best brands of clothing for their children thinking that they are a better parent than I am because I have to go to work so that my kids can eat and not live in the bad part of town. I love the Lord also with all my heart and he has led me and my family to this life situation for a reason and I make the best decissions I can with God leading me and I am as good of a paret if not better.

Our Love Story said...

Ouch...I am sorry that anonymous was feeling bad about your post. Blogs are supposed to be a place for us to support each other (at least in my mind they are.) We should feel like we can share our thoughts and feelings with people through them. I think as moms and wives and women in general we tend to compare ourselves too much to each other and then feel bad about ourselves.

Personally, I think your last paragraph summed up your feelings - that you are doing the best you can in this adventure of parenting and that we all are. And, you said it yourself, you are comitted to trying to not see any parenting style as normal. Thus, as I read it, are accepting all people/choices as they are.

I have only been reading for a week or so. But, as a mom who has made nearly every similar parenting style choice (cd, nursing, cosleeping, ap, etc.), I enjoy hearing from you about your experiences. Please don't get discouraged and keep up the writing! :-)

olivia said...

Anon - with respect, I think you might be missing the point of the post. We *all* are trying to balance our lives and our care for our children. When confronted with hundreds of choices for every kind of child-rearing decision, we *all* make the decision we feel best meets the needs of our family while best fitting with our own personally worldview and philosophy.

I believe what Jenn said is that, regardless of your choice, you deserve respect with regard to working, diapering or anything else, and that being thought of as "weird" is unfair, hurtful, and ultimately just plain dumb. Because its not about cloth vs. disposables or SAHM vs WAHM or whatever. Its about respecting *everyone's* parenting choices.

olivia said...

ps...Jenn, we see the crunchiest bunch of MD's you can imagine. Let me know if you are annoyed enough to consider switching. At one of M's latest appointments, we talked about EC (!!!) and her regular doctor is supportive of extended breastfeeding, delayed/non vaxing, etc.

The King said...

First off allow me to say, first time poster, long time reader. I love your blog. I enjoy the articles and reading all the comments that people from around blogdom have to say.
When I read your last post, "Who's Weird" I could not help but agree with you, as parents in this world it is already tough enough, we dont need to turn on each other. We are all attempting to raise our children to the best of our abilities. Just as Olivia said, it SHOULD NOT matter whether it is cloth or disposable, or any other style that is made.
If both parents are involved, then it has to be what works for both of them and their children.
And because I know a little about what happens in the castle and around it. I can say that you work extra hard at BOTH of your jobs and the types of jobs to be a quasi-SAHM.
The King was raised by a working mom and has a great deal of respect for those who are and raising their children, especially single moms, just like the mother of the King. Just as he has respect for those who are SAHM whether out of abundance of wealth or who are barely making ends meet.
I say all this because I know you and you want nothing more than parents to come together, regardless of style and choices, but because they love their children and want to do what is best for them. With that mindset there is no normal or weird but just a bunch of people being the best parents possible. (Although, personally, I think you are the best!)
You are doing a fantastic job as mother to the princess and wife to the King. Keep up the blogging!

A, B & C said...

I love this post- thank you for sharing this. We don't use cloth diapers (just biodegradable ones), but we do breastfeed and babywear. I'm sad to read the comment by anonymous, because I don't think she understood that your post was talking about NOT judging. I hope you don't let this discourage you from posting your feelings.

I love going to LLL meetings, but have to admit I had a bad experience there once. I moved my daughter to her own crib, because she was sleeping through the night at 4 months (which is amazing since she was exclusively breastfed). One of the Moms chastised me and said I should still be co-sleeping. Luckily, a few friends there defended me and said exactly what you did in your post. We're all doing what we think is best and this can be a hard job sometimes! :-)

A, B & C said...

I love this post- thank you for sharing this. We don't use cloth diapers (just biodegradable ones), but we do breastfeed and babywear. I'm sad to read the comment by anonymous, because I don't think she understood that your post was talking about NOT judging. I hope you don't let this discourage you from posting your feelings.

I love going to LLL meetings, but have to admit I had a bad experience there once. I moved my daughter to her own crib, because she was sleeping through the night at 4 months (which is amazing since she was exclusively breastfed). One of the Moms chastised me and said I should still be co-sleeping. Luckily, a few friends there defended me and said exactly what you did in your post. We're all doing what we think is best and this can be a hard job sometimes! :-)

Supermom said...

I just read your "Who's Weird?" blog and all of the comments. I would love to be a SAHM but just can't afford it. You're very lucky!! But even with working full time I have managed to give my 10 month old baby exclusively breastmilk. I have been able to pump enough milk at work each day so that I have not had to use formula. I know that Pediatricians recommend breastfeeding for 1 year, but you are doing extended breastfeeding? How long do you plan to breastfeed??

I definitaly think that everyone should do what is best for them and their baby, but I just want to share my experience on co-sleeping. I also have a 9 year old. I was a single mom for the first 6 years of his life and I let him sleep with me. When he was older I would put him to sleep in his own bed and then he would wake up in the night and come get in bed with me. He is now terrified of the dark and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that he was never alone at night. I have always been there. We have a very special bond and are very close, but now that he's older he should be able to sleep in his room without being scared. Because of this experience with him, I have decided that my baby needs to learn to sleep in her own room early on, so that she won't be so scared later on. I don't want her to have the fear that my son does.

I've also heard of people (usually men) rolling over on their babies and smothering them. I know as a mother that I wake at every little movement or sound they make, but I don't think dads always do. I know my husband doesn't wake up. I'm sure you are, but be careful!

You sure have a lot of poop stories. I never knew poop was so interesting. I enjoyed reading about the princess, because I too have a precious princess.

Tonya said...

I really enjoyed reading this post! I am so with you on people staring at me when I have my baby in the sling. I have gotten such a wide response from people from "that is the coolest thing I have ever seen." to "that is so dangerous she is going to fall out." To which I usually jump up and down to show she is safe. I agree that you do what you feel is best for your family. For instance I would love to have tried to cloth diaper but hubby was not down with it. So we use disposable. I feel so bad throwing away diapers so I tend to potty train earlier then the norm. We co-sleep and I've done extended breastfeeding. I forget who said it but I think we as women need to support each other and stop comparing. As long as I can go to bed at night and know I did the best I can do according to what I believe the Bible tells me how to parent then I feel good. And I love taking the kids to the library :)

Anonymous said...

I have read certain segments of this blog that made me think that I would not live up to Jen's parenting quota. I don't blame anonymous for how she was feeling.

As for Olivia, I do have a problem with you not vaccinating your children because it is becoming an epedemic, watch the news. When pollio or whopping cough becomes an epidemic in the USA and thousands of children die I hope you people can live with yourself. I will admit when I had my first child I considered not getting some vaccines but my doctor told me a story of a little 4 year old girl with a stay at home mom who didn't go many places. She stepped on a needle on the beach and got Hepititis. She will die earlier than she would have if she had gotten her vaccine.

olivia said...

Anon- again with judging before you read what people are really saying! Actually, our daughter is vaccinated according to the CDC schedule. That is a choice that my family made after considering the evidence. HOWEVER I know that there are families who choose not to vax, and have done so with much thought and consideration of the evidence. I respect their decision to do so, even though I don't necessarily agree. I only mentioned that when recommending a doctor, because I feel that its important to choose health care professionals who are willing to listen to each familiy's concerns and work with them accordingly.

I wonder why you read a blog that obviously causes you such discomfort?

Allison said...

Another mom and I were discussing this very thing today...the whole NOT JUDGING other moms thing is so difficult for all of us...whatever our parenting decisions.

I think it is hardest, though, when you are always worrying about what people think (especially doctors. or family members) because you have to answer questions all the time about WHY you do a certain thing, whereas people who do more "mainstream" baby practices (bottle feeding, crib sleeping, etc.) are just accepted. We both agreed we usually end up answering: "Because it's best for our family. The end."

And I think your post was written in that spirit. You are tired of being called weird and not normal, and so you are starting to realize that you see others in those terms, too, so you want to try to be more accepting.

We are ALL weird, and ALL normal. Everyone, every parent is different because every kid is different.

By the way, I'd like to think I'm an equal opportunity parent...we do a little of everything. We use cloth at home, disposables elsewhere. We put our son in a crib for part of the night, and the rest in our bed. We babywear when it's convenient, but also use a stroller. And that works for us. Maybe our kid will grow up to be confused, but I doubt it.

All that matters is that he knows his parents love him. I hope that all the parents reading this can at least agree on that.

Rebecca said...

I linked to your blog from Money Saving Mom & just happened to read down to this post. I don't feel judged at all {even though I am neither CDing or co-sleeping}. I completely understand and connect with you about feeling weird. Sometimes just nursing in public gets me the third eye. And I can feel the third eyes starting to bulge when people ask why my daughter isn't in school. She IS in school, it just happens to be in my living room ;>)

I think as women, and especially as moms, we should try and support one another throughout our parenting adventures. I also don't see anything wrong, however, with exposing moms to our way {a different way} of doing things. Maybe they will find that our way is better, maybe not.

Be blessed!