Monday, March 26, 2007


In my two months as a new mom I have learned a few things about other mommies: they are all more conscientious than me. Yes, I am that mommy who lets anyone hold my baby without using hand santitizer (mostly), the one who leaves her baby in the gym daycare for an hour while she works out and the one who takes her baby on a walk without feeding her first, which necessitates a breastfeeding session on a park bench. But I do not think these things make me a bad mother.

I have been amazed by the level of neuroticism around child rearing. Moms who boil their children's bottles after each use, moms who will only feed their babies in ONE chair in ONE room in their house because "that's what I read was more stabilizing for the baby." Nevermind that this particular mom cannot actually go anywhere longer than two hours because she can't feed her baby anywhere else. The other day I was at lunch with a bunch of mothers who were appalled by the idea that I would leave Samara in gym daycare while I worked out for an hour. I mean: "who knows who they've hired!" exclaimed one particularly horrified mom when I said I would be partaking. She acted as if they've recently raided the local heroin den for the most alert looking woman to work the gym daycare at $6 an hour. As if I am not 10 FEET AWAY on the treadmill. As if.

I believe this kind of "lax" attitude I display has earned me a bit of a reputation in the mom circles in which I travel. I know this because I had Samara in the sling the other day and one of the other mothers asked me if I plan to put the baby in a car seat. Um, yes. That is where I draw the line. Although my friend Kevin did point out that it might be easier to just use one of those handy recycling bins that our town so generously provides. Convenient AND free. A win win, really. That same mom also mentioned off handedly that the other mothers in my group had all believed me to be 19 years of age. Okay, so I am one of the younger moms in the group (this is Boston where women wait until 40 to have their first), but I am not THAT young! And I do know that car seats are mandatory. And I am not Britney Spears.

Here's the thing: I do not think it makes me a bad mom that I don't worry about every possible death scenario or that I let other people hold my baby or that I take her to the mall or even that I breastfeed sometimes in front of the TV ("I sing songs and talk to my daughter," said one mom who looked horrified that I was exposing my daughter to Lifetime TV for Women--although she may have had a point about that channel). I am not interested in raising a germaphobe, anti-social, shut-in. I want a regular baby who can get a little dirty. After all, she seems to ENJOY sucking on couches and sleeves. Who am I to judge?


Mackenzie said...

I think that this approach to mothering will make both you AND Samara much happier, and will make Samara a much calmer person. I don't know where, when or why this recent trend in obsessive-compulsive parenting began, but it is toxic and SO absurd. Good for you for not falling victim to it!

Kristi said...

Oh my God! Did I write this post? No wait, that was you, my super-twin. My family thinks Isabella should never, ever leave the house, because the baby? SHE WILL DIE from germ exposure! I hear it from them constantly (in very subtle ways) about how wrong I am doing just about everything concerning the raising of my child. I am so proud of you for realizing you're not a bad mother for raising Samara as you are. Bravo for not falling victim to the mommy guilt.