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10:46 a.m. - 2012-05-14
A draft dodger from the Mommy Wars speaks her mind.

Well! That 'Time' magazine cover certainly did its job, didn't it? If you've been on the moon and haven't seen/heard about it, the cover shows an awesomely fit mom in a unitard standing up nursing a three year old boy. The kid is dressed in school clothes and standing on a chair so he can reach. Personally I think the kid looks closer to 5 than 3, but whatever. The controversy 'Time' was hoping for was generated. There's been A LOT of chatter about it and parenting in general amongst my friends.

The long-term nursing moms are jutting their chins out at the bottle feeders and claiming to be vindicated. The helicopters are snarking at the free rangers. The co-sleepers are muttering at the crib moms. Even the cloth vs disposables are chiming in. And, of course, those who haven't had any children at all are doing the loudest quacking about the One True and Only Way to raise kids.

Me? I'm sitting back and laughing my ass off.

Because at no time during the smack-downs and pontifications does anyone ever mention actual children and what they're like and what they might need. Yup, the kids are being neatly side-stepped and it's all about the big people and their theories and defenses of their choices and criticism of everybody else's. If you were to hear it you'd think that children had nothing whatsoever to do with Parenting.

Even better. Nobody has said word one about how sometimes all theory in the world doesn't mean diddly-squat if your kid can't or won't cooperate with the program. At no time do special needs kids come into the discussions. Ever.

I know if a couple of hollow-eyed moms came into the room and quietly said, "My kid has cerebral palsy and won't ever be able to walk." Or, "My son's autistic. He's 9 and still in diapers and has to wear a helmet because he can't stop banging his head on the floor." Or, "My kid was born with a hole in her heart. She's had 12 operations and has lived in the hospital almost all of her 3 years so far." I know if moms like us chimed in that the room would get awful damn quiet, there'd be some embarrassed toe scuffing and an awkward topic change to some lame shit about last night's Yankees game.

Ladies, far as I'm concerned you can breastfeed your kid until she leaves for college or stop off to buy a case of Infamil on the way home from the hospital. You can pre-chew your kid's food or let him figure out how to use the microwave before he's in pre-school. Hell, raise llamas and make cheese from their milk and weave your kid's underpants out of llama hair, or keep a standing Thursday appointment at the nail salon and have a martini every day for lunch. Keep a diary about the color and texture of every single one of the kid's bowel movements until he learns to lock the bathroom door, or you can be one of those moms who has to stop and count backward from when you bought the car to figure out how old your kid is.

None of it really matters much. Sure, you can do outright dangerous, cruel, and illegal stuff and that's always wrong, but otherwise it's all cool.

Because guess what? No matter how hard you try, no matter how sincere your theories are, you are going to screw up. Often. But you're also going to get a lot of things right. There's no One-Size-Fits-All absolute correct way to be a mom. And anyone who insists there is is a turkey.

Look, I understand why there's so much shouting and grandstanding...we're scared. We become fierce about the way we're doing things because we're doing THE most difficult job in the world. A job that has no guarantees and has a human being's whole life on the line. We shout to mask the fear and the doubt. We need to be right because we're all secretly terrified we're getting it wrong. The stakes seem so goddamn high.

Well, they are and they aren't. All we can do is feed, teach, keep an eye on, offer up crap like Scouts and piano lessons, and hope for the best. If I've learned anything during my nearly 30 years as a mom it's that your kid is going to be who he is regardless of the goodies given, the mistakes you make, all the love and attention you give him. Ultimately it's going to be your child's decision whether she picks up a master's degree or a crack pipe.

It is. Really.

So cut yourself a break. Do you love your kids? Do you keep them reasonably clean? Do you feed them as best you can, even when they're going through their chicken nugget phase? Do they have access to books, the outdoors, and some privacy? Do you talk with them, hang their stuff on the fridge, and hug them a lot? Yes? Then you're doing just fine. Promise.

Let's all be kind. To our kids. To ourselves. To each other.

Do we have a deal? ~LA

8 Wanna talk about it!

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