Friday, May 25, 2012
Books and Boobs
I was reading Time Magazine the other day and found myself inspired by an article about John Irving. If you haven’t read him, you should. Books such as The World According to Garp, Cider House Rules, and A Prayer for Owen Meany are a few of his creations. He is a writer’s writer. His work always cuts into me, shocking, funny, honest and accepting of humanity often overlooked. The article about Irving was the only reason I cracked open the magazine. I almost canceled my subscription to Time a few weeks before when they featured an attractive 20something mother on the cover breastfeeding her (very tall for his age) 3 year old son with the caption, “Are You Mom Enough?” Are they kidding? The article was about Dr. Sears and his attachment parenting theories and how it encourages women to breastfeed their children long after their children can not only say the word breast, but spell it, type it into the computer, and tweet pictures of themselves sucking from it. No prude am I, but seriously folks, in my opinion, if your child can get the milk out of the refrigerator and pour a glass all by themselves, they have no business still breastfeeding. Appalled as I was about the idea of breastfeeding into the toddler and elementary years – one woman was breastfeeding her 8 year old until he recently self-weaned – I wondered why hadn’t anyone called DCF (department of children and families) on these parents and on Dr. Sears himself for advocating this. But then I read the article and you know what? Sears’ theories didn’t seem as extreme as you’d think. It seemed more like his followers were the ones taking it to the extreme and Time was using that to sell more magazines with its titillating (pun intended) cover. Actually, to my horror, all the components of attachment parenting where pretty much things my husband and I had done when raising our children – Breastfeeding , co-sleeping, babywearing, childled learning, etc. - we just hadn’t read a book about it and weren’t following “the method.” We had done attachment parenting – except for the extreme breastfeeding part. I breastfed both girls until they were about 12 months and/or until their teeth came in and they thought it was funny to chomp down hard on me while breastfeeding and watch me scream. The first time that happened with both was pretty much the last time I breastfed. Because honestly, after all the things your body goes through to have a baby, I think getting bit on the boob is the final indignity and really just shouldn’t be tolerated! So, I was a little worried to realize that what we had done was part of an actual parenting movement. I’ve never been a joiner of movements. In fact, I think I’m more an anti-joiner, taking pleasure in my steadfast refusal to participate in organized group activities – Brownies, Girl Scouts, cheerleading, college sororities, etc… David and I hadn’t tried to be part of a parenting movement. Honestly, we aren’t that organized. When our kids were babies, we were just trying to stay one step ahead of them, not be out numbered, and try to keep them alive until they were old enough to call 911 on their own. Attachment parenting, eh? Who says having your children adore you and be attached to you is a good thing? Our girls are now 9 and 11 and they can’t get enough of us. In fact, they like us too much if that’s possible. They want tell us everything, go everywhere with us, want us to play every board game, Wii game, and video game with them. We will need to stock up on dynamite to get them out of our beds. I think it’s time for a little detachment parenting. I keep waiting for the time when they will turn into surly teenagers and want nothing of us. What a relief that will be! Well, maybe not a total relief. It will probably be too quite around the house and I’ll miss the board games just a little bit. But at least we’ll get our bed back. The other day, my husband saw a baby being pushed in a stroller down the street. He cooed at it. Have you ever seen a grown man coo? It’s not pretty. That was fine, I ignored him and kept walking, not to be impressed by every pretty babyface I see. Then he turned to me and said, “Hey, maybe we should have another one…” and this isn’t the first time he’s said that recently. I screamed. I couldn’t control it. It just burst out of my mouth. “Do you know how old I am?” My mind was trying to grasp what he was saying as if he had suddenly started speaking in tongues. “Do you know how old you are?” He looked at me, slightly hurt by my response. I wasn’t sure if it was because I’d called him old or because I said I didn’t want to have another child. I continued. Sometimes you have to hurt the ones you love. “Besides, you want to know the most important reason we can’t have another baby?” He waited for me to bestow my great wisdom on him. “We can’t have another baby because if we did, we’d be outnumbered.” So much for great wisdom, but he knew I was right. We already have two children. Having a third would put us at a disadvantage. He’s a numbers guy, he knows about things like that. He agreed, said he was just having a moment. I suspect it was the leftover beef he had for dinner. So I learned about attachment parenting because I wanted to read about John Irving and his new book. I’ve always admired his work so I guess it was worth going back to Time Magazine (which I still hold with some disregard for that sensationalistic cover.) But I had to read about Irving. I love reading about writers, particularly novelists, who (in my opinion) I believe have a much more challenging job than screenwriters. Yet despite Irving’s many critical accolades, he humbly believes that every time he sits down to start on a new work, to go head-to-head with a blank piece of paper, he is a beginner, learning the craft anew. I imagine that’s what it would be like if I tried to have another baby. A beginner, starting anew with a blank piece of paper. We could do that...or we could just get another dog.