Sunday, November 17, 2013

Bidden or not bidden, parenting judgment is present

31-ish weeks . . .

*sigh*  Why is it when we don't follow our gut instincts, so often things turn out poorly?  I'm not talking about large-scale, life-altering decisions.  I'm talking about following the instructions of a magazine recipe that say that greasing a Bundt pan with non-stick spray will work.  I knew it wouldn't work.  I knew the cake would stick.  I always grease (and flour) my Bundt pans by hand but this morning I was lazy.  I didn't want to take the couple of extra minutes to make sure every nook and cranny of the baking pan was appropriately coated.  The instructions assured me that non-stick spray would work, so against my better judgment, and my internal baker's voice screaming, "NO!  IT'S A TRAP", I tried using their suggested shortcut.  And guess what?  The cake stuck.  Not a lot of it, but unfortunately the elegantly angular top of the cake.  I'll probably just slice off the top part to make it level and then either frost it or coat it with some powdered sugar -it's not a total loss.  I'm just kicking myself for letting myself be wooed by promises that I knew were lies.

Yes, that's that the extent of the drama and excitement around here.  I'm starting to resemble a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, but all is well.  Another normal OB appointment is in the books and I officially have a "Stork Parking Pass" for the hospital.  I feel sort of silly having it.  I'm perfectly capable of walking comfortably from the hospital's usual parking structure to the OB office, but I'm sure in a month or so I'll be happy to be able to park mere yards from it.  I also started filling out my patient admission packet of paperwork for when delivery comes along.  It also includes some paperwork that is to be filled out after the baby arrives: Date of birth, Name, etc.  I looked at those empty boxes on the form for a long while.  Holy crap, we're going to have a baby.  And we're going to have to name it.  Oy.

As much as I'm looking forward to meeting our baby in mid January, I'm staring to freak out a little bit about how radically life is going to change in about eight weeks.  Things have been so normal around here - I work, Zac works, I volunteer, we eat three meals a day at their scheduled times.  We clean the house on Sundays, socialize with friends on the weekends.  I work out twice a week in the evenings.  We're in bed by 10:30 and up each morning after at least seven hours of (basically) uninterrupted sleep.  Errands take little to no effort, grocery shopping is a piece of cake.  All of this will get turned on its head in less than two months.  I like our normal and I find myself trying desperately to cling to, and appreciate, the routine we have right now.  We went out to dinner the other night and at one point in the meal I paused and said to Zac, "This eating out?  This is going to be damn near impossible soon."  Zac nodded in acknowledgement.  I like eating my food when it's hot.  I enjoy eating my food at the same time as my husband.

Of course this is the part of the tirade where current parents cut me off to say things like, "Oh, but when that baby smiles at you, all the sacrifices are worth it," or, "But, the love and amazement you feel as a parent is the most awesome feeling you will ever experience."  Ok.  That may be true.  But apparently you forgot about how last week you were complaining that you hadn't eaten a hot meal in two months because family "meal" time is really "two parents focused on a loosing battle of trying to get more food into the child than on the floor" time.

I think I'm also a little cranky at the amount of judgment that Zac and I have been experiencing lately as impending parents.  Everybody has an opinion and everyone wants to share it, whether bidden or not.  The same way many people seem to think my pregnancy is open for public commentary and inquiry, parenting questions and advice have been flowing from strangers, acquaintances, friends and family.  Luckily family and friends have, for the most part, been respectful and tactful with their input.  But the same way I got irritated with, "It [pregnancy] will happen when you just relax and don't think about it!", I'm getting really tired of some of the following:

-What do you mean you're not decorating the nursery for the baby?
Well, the baby has a cradle for now and will have a larger crib in a few months when it is warranted.  It seems that a quiet, clean room at the appropriate temperature with a place to sleep is really all the baby needs.  No, we don't have cute decorations or a theme for the room.  Well, actually the theme is "Things that were hanging on the wall before we found out we got pregnant and are staying up because I don't think my child will feel unloved if there aren't hand-painted murals on the walls with matching curtains and bedding."  If decorating your baby's room is an expression of love towards your child, that's awesome.  Then decorate the room and express your love!  You will probably find peace and happiness when you go in to that room which your child will undoubtedly pick up on.  Us?  We love our little house and we don't need that particular room to be the place of calm and serenity - we've got that in every room.  And yes, the baby's room is our office.  Our infant will share a room with the printer, a desk and crafting supplies.  The horror!  Put Child Protective Services on speed dial, folks.  When our child is able to focus his/her eyes for the first time skeins of yarn might be the first thing he/she sees!

-You're going to try cloth diapers?  Ugh, I can't imagine carrying around a dirty diaper with me when I'm out and about.
Yes, we're going to give it a try.  1.)  Because it worked for babies for thousands of years, 2.)  In the long run it's cheaper, and, 3.) Because I can imagine a world where landfills are chock full of disposable diapers.  I know that cloth diapering takes a certain amount of additional time and logistical planning, but it's a challenge that I'm looking forward to (hopefully) mastering.  If disposables are the choice you made for your family, that's great.  I understand the convenience and practicality of them, and I'm not saying that I'll never use one.  As a matter of fact, I can pretty much guarantee that we will use a disposable here and there.  But when you tell me you use disposables I don't lecture you on your choice or purr, "Well that's an . . . interesting choice."  

-How are you going to know what kind of clothes to buy the baby if you don't know if it's a boy or a girl?
This one always wants me to beat my head against a brick wall.  I honestly don't think that we will disrupt our child's sense of gender or self if we put the baby in white or gray or yellow onesies for the first few weeks of life.  Yes, there are lots of adorable little "boy" and little "girl" outfits out there in the world.  They don't need to be purchased before the baby arrives in order for them to work their gender-assigning magic.  Boys can wear pink, girls can wear blue.  The planet doesn't stop spinning if that happens.   God forbid if a little boy has an outfit with a flower on it or a little girl has a football on hers.  While I'm in a tizzy about gender roles, Zac and I went to go see Alton Brown's (of Food Network fame) traveling "Edible Inevitable" tour a couple of weeks ago.  It was a stage show consisting of food science, cooking, music, humor and belching sock puppets.  One of the things that Alton Brown drew attention to is how much he loved playing with an Easy Bake Oven when he was a kid, even though they were "supposed" to be for girls.  This young boy who liked to play with a "girl's" toy grew up to be a successful video/tv producer, food science geek, husband, father and (shock!) straight. And yet in 2013, THIS is what you see when you go to Hasbro's website for the product.  God help me if I have a daughter and she sees stuff like this.  And God help me equally if I have a boy who sees it.  It's not a message I want either one internalize and adopt as a worldview.  
There are plenty of other regularly dispensed comments out there, including ones about how I'm "crazy" if I don't go straight for the epidural, I'm a weird hippie because I'm trying to learn how to use a Moby wrap, and I'll be regretting every day of my mothering life for picking a convertible car seat instead of an infant car seat with the detachable base.

Back in Hawaii, I heard one of the military chaplains say, "Different isn't necessarily wrong; sometimes it's just different."  That has always stuck with me.  Sometimes different is, indeed, wrong.  Causing injury or harm to self or others is wrong.  But most often, "different" achieves the same goal, just not in a way that you prefer or makes you comfortable.  Maybe it's not the car seat you picked for your kids, but will our child be safe in it?  If yes, then what's the issue?  Does the diaper keep bodily waste from going everywhere?  If yes, then why does it matter if we choose cloth diapers over disposables?  Zac and I will figure this parenting thing out, I promise you.  There will be missteps and changes of course, but we will figure out what works for us and our child as we go along.  You got find your path at some point, please give us the same courtesy.