JOINING THE VILLAGE

11.19.2014



It takes a village to raise a child, but what about when it seems like the villagers have formed an angry mob?




I took Elsa to a pediatric chiropractor for adjustment when we ran into some issues with nursing (it really helped!). The chiropractor was kind and accommodating when I made a last minute appointment. They were patient as I changed the diaper of my two month old and got poop everywhere as I felt sweat pouring out of my stressed out body. Our introduction before adjustment from the chiropractor was a kind salutation followed by a firm declaration: "You should know I do not believe in vaccinations." A brief monologue of the dangers and effects of them followed.




Elsa and I looked at each other like, "Um, what..."




I slow blinked at her and said, "Oh okay ME NEITHER" because I panic sometimes and turn into a lemming when strong opinions are thrown at me and I've really got to stop doing that. I made a mental note to better research vaccinations when I got home. She'd already had some shots, and I suddenly felt awful about them. Like I'd done irreversible damage to my baby. Bryan returned from work that night, asking if I'd like to go for a nice evening stroll. I greeted him with:




"WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VACCINATIONS? THEY MIGHT BE BAD. THERE IS NO ANSWER YOU HAVE TO DECIDE OURSELVES BUT GOOGLE IS BIASED ON BOTH SIDES SO THERE IS NO ANSWERS."




"So...you don't want to go for a walk?"




"WHAT ABOUT VACCINATIONS"




This is not a discussion about vaccinations.












It's just an observation of what it means to become a mother in the time of the Internet when everyone has a voice, everyone has a soapbox, and we are all safe behind our screens as people shout passionately and it can sometimes be hurtful. Sometimes it feels loud, and noisy. I definitely wasn't prepared for it. I went into pregnancy and motherhood blissfully unaware of all of the contention within the realm of motherhood. Doctor or midwife. Epidural or natural. Breastfeeding versus formula. To vaccinate or to not vaccinate.




I read Babywise, and then I read The Happpiest Baby on the Block, and they are totally opposite. I got the crazed vaccination look in my eye when I asked Bryan again, "WHAT DO WE DO THESE BOOKS DO NOT AGREE WITH EACH OTHER. WHAT IF SHE NEVER SLEEPS." Bryan stared back at me, with Elsa sleeping on his chest and wondered whether he should respond or let me ride it out. (Though, let's all agree that this is the most accurate depiction of advice on sleep training).




Amy Poehler's book had a whole chapter devoted to "Good for you, not for me." She talked about loving her epidural and the hospital, and how her friend Maya Rudolph liked having her babies naturally in her own home. I loved the simplicity of it, and the reminder that it's possible to celebrate another person's decision in what works for their family and know that it's okay if yours is different. It's also really comforting to think that our children will not meet someone in college and introduce themselves as, "I'm Elsa. I was breastfed until I was 14 months. What about you?"












I am thankful for the village, I think I just didn't take into account that it was diverse and there are lots of tribes. Some grow corn and maybe like wearing husks, and some are really into hunting and wearing animal hides. What am I saying? I'm saying that I have to remember to love the village of real mothers that have gone before me and not get lost in the village of Google. I don't want to numb my own maternal instinct by constantly checking the internet instead of trusting in the wisdom God gives me, and His sovereignty. I want to remember to look at all of the women around me that are calm in reminding me that babies are vulnerable, but resilient - and that people have been doing this for a really long time, long before the internet.




Becoming a mom has only confirmed that I know nothing and that I have no control. I think that is one of my favorite parts of being a mother so far, as weird as that sounds. It's really liberating to just say, "I really don't know anything, and I'm figuring this out as I go. We are all alive and tired and it's good and exhilarating and exhausting and a privilege."




I hope that my place in the village is one that is of sharing hopeful words with other women. That if you want to have your baby naturally - you can, and it will be good. That if you want to get the epidural, you can and it will be good. Feed your baby, and love your baby. Know that you are not alone, and everyone will not agree, but it can be good for you and not for me and it can all still be good. It's possible to be passionate without denigration. I'm cheering for you and your babies, and I hope you can hear it.




Take solace in knowing that we can all agree that letting your baby drink red bull or chew on glass will never be a good idea. Cheers!

9 comments:

  1. I think I just strained my eyeball muscles with how hard I rolled them when reading about that chiropractor. As the wife of a chiropractor who loves and relies on real, legitimate, peer-reviewed, honest-to-goodness research, it SO irks me (and him) when chiropractors toss out little tidbits like that. Does not reflect well on the profession. Anyway, more to the point of your post, I totally agree with you on this post--I'm positive it's harder to raise kids now than it was when our parents were raising us because of how opinions have gotten so loud and so in-your-face and increasingly wacky over the years, and I worry about what it'll be like by the time our grandkids are born. Everybody needs to mind their business--we're all doing our best. Unless someone else's parenting choices are directly affecting me or my kids (and in 4 years of parenting so far, I'm not sure this has happened yet), I don't think I've got any business commenting on them.

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  2. (But one last chiropractic tidbit--we've had it really help with nursing issues, too. At two different times a few months ago, Darcy absolutely refused for an entire day to nurse on one side and flipped out whenever I tried to make her feed on that side, and it turned out both times that her neck was way tight and giving her pain when she was turning in that direction, so Jeff adjusted her and she was back to normal and eating on both sides after being adjusted. Yay! Glad to hear it helped Yellsa too. Can I call her that all the time?)

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  3. I'm honestly terrified of this - there is SO much information out there and SO many (differing) opinions when it comes to anything, not to mention motherhood and raising children. I became overwhelmed when reading pregnancy books that I almost don't even want to pick up an infant or baby book because I fear it will just lead me to confusion all over again. I think it's important to give ourselves more credit than we do, but I'm also one that wants information when I'm feeling lost. I know that I will experience that when this little baby arrives and I'm already anxious as to how I will handle that. Thankfully, my mother knows how crazy I am and puts up with me well ;)
    Having a village you can count and rely on is huge. Especially when that village won't make you feel stupid, crazy or insane for thinking the way you do and instead will love, support and give you their thoughts without shoving it all down your throat.

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  4. WHAT? I'm not supposed to give Caroline red bull in her bottle? DANG IT, FRAN ... why didn't you tell me sooner???

    Seriously, though ... go you! You're a great Momma because you love that girl. And this post was/is much needed for all the mommas out there. Let's hope it shows up high on the google results when some new stressed-out Momma googles "sleep training," "vaccinations," or "village." :)

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  5. (oh, and you can add to that ... I still give Caroline bottles of milk even though she's one and evidently that means her teeth are going to rot out and she'll get fat or something. whatevs ... milk's good for her.)

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  6. My immediate reaction to this is to jump in and be all YOU NEED TO VACCINATE YOUR CHILD, but that's obviously against the point of your post. I love what you/Amy Poehler were saying about finding your own way. As long as your child ends up happy and healthy and loved, the specifics of how you get there don't really matter.

    (but seriously, please with the vaccinations. I've only been in med school for a few months, but that's already been one of the major takeaways - vaccines are important.)

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  7. 1. I have so many friends because I regularly reminisce about my breastfeeding days. 2. Imagine being able to say "So I have this friend named MAYA RUDOLPH and here's how SHE handles this situation..." Oh, famous people. 3. Can I join your village? I'll be the mailman or something. 4. You are amazing and THIS motherhood post should be the one going viral and getting picked up by HuffingtonPost.. not the ones yelling at me for talking to a busy mom in the grocery store :( 5.

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  8. My goodness, this is good Fran! It's a tough Mommy world out there sometimes, isn't it?! Elsa's got a good one ;)

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  9. Such a good post, Fran. All so true.

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