My Public Service Announcement: Blahblahblah

Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Is it just me or is there something about motherhood that makes us classify ourselves in black-and-white terms on a nearly daily basis. Among the many things I and my friends have said in the last, oh, month or so: "I'm just not a strict kind of mom"; "I just think that working outside the home is better for everyone"; "I don't believe in play-based schools"; "I'm the kind of mom who remembers what I was like before I was a mom"; "I don't think it's right to go out instead of putting your child to bed"; "I just don't think that activities are that important right now"; "We don't see the need for organic food"; "We don't believe in babysitters". Truly, I could go on and on. And while these sorts of comments are often prefaced with "it's just my opinion but" or something similar, it is clear that the characterization is laced with some judgment.

Obviously we all have opinions. But there is something--at least right now, when most moms I know are still in the first 3 years of their tenure as moms--there is something strangely juvenile about all these assertions we make. We're still learning the ropes people and I kind of have a feeling we will still be learning when our kids are 18. Why do we have to be so static? Why do we put ourselves into these little boxes of what our beliefs are on motherhood? Don't we realize yet that our views on ALL of this are evolving and probably changing every single day? Even some of the least judgmental and most laid back moms I know--and of course I count myself in this category!--are guilty of subtly but surely characterizing themselves as One Particular Way on subjects concerning parenthood. Think about any subject worth considering. Abortion; gun control; capital punishment; gender equality. Could your "beliefs" on the topic be summed up in a bald-faced little nugget of "pro" or "con"? If so, you are probably not a very good advocate for your position. "What do you think of gun control?" "I'm pro gun control." "Really, tell me more." "I'm pro gun control."

Plus, the bread and butter of parenthood topics in these early years--napping, preschool, potty-training, work-life balance--are not so "hot button" as to warrant diametrically opposed sides. More than once I have seen people (and I am sure I have done this myself too) declare themselves to be "against" going out on weekdays or "pro" daycare only to change their minds, or develop more nuanced opinions, resulting in embarrassment for such brash proclamations in the first place. Now, this is good for absolutely nobody. You feel like a tool, your friends laugh at you behind your back for being so sure of yourself to begin with, you therefore feel insecure and often over-compensate by explaining that, no, you really ARE pro this or anti that BUT...

Blahblahblah. Let's just all agree that what we feel on many things concerning parenthood is just what we feel today. Like my friend Jaime told me once, "I think taking naps in a swing is fine...till it doesn't work anymore. Then I don't think it's fine anymore." She wasn't "pro" napping in swings and she isn't going to become "anti" napping. Because, really, who wants to be pro or anti ANYTHING concerning napping. It's just lame. Let's not be lame.
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