Some old white dude is happy to teach you how to be a mom

Seth has previously mentioned that when it comes to procreating and parenting, people are absolutely insane and happy to lecture you and tell you you’re doing everything wrong.

Because I like to be prepared (or at least PARANOID), I have been reading pregnancy and baby books by Dr. Sears and his wife, an RN. They are generally okay. They are sort of crunchy-granola but also not seemingly convinced that you should treat your baby’s meningitis with colloidal silver, so while I am sort of skeptical of some of the things they say, they don’t make me throw the book across the room that often.

HOWEVER. I just got to the chapter in the THE BABY BOOK (more than 500,000 copies sold!) about WORKING AND PARENTING.

Here are some things you need to know about the Unified Sears Theory Of Childraising:

  • Mom is made of magic and rainbows! Dad is basically just some dude who provides the money and hovers in the background and occasionally brings you an organic-cotton washcloth to wipe away Baby’s precious breastfed spit-up.
  • When you are pregnant, people should shower you with praise and, like, commemorative plaques!*
  • If you wear your baby in a sling and sleep with your baby and feed your baby on nothing but milk from your boobs, your baby will GROW UP TO BE BARACK OBAMA.
  • But if you have to give your baby a bottle, that’s okay. Just so long as you don’t feel good about it. Also, your baby will probably be Bobby Jindal, sorry.
  • Mothers should not work while their children are small. Unless they feel really guilty about it and need the income to pay for diapers. It’s not okay to work just because you find it fulfilling or because you have long-term career goals and dreams of professional success.
  • Unless you’re the dad, obviously, then it’s fine.
  • The chapter on working and parenting is crazy to me for a number of reasons.

    First, it flatly states that good parenting (which actually only means mothering, see above about the dad being the money guy/sperm donor/human sidebar) involves giving up paying work to stay home with your child.

    Second, it assumes that it’s possible for any family in America – after making at worst a few minor adjustments – to have the mom stay home from paying work for several years. (Again, at no point do the Searses mention the option of having Dad stay with the kid.)

    Third, if you are the kind of jerk who refuses to believe the Searses that if you would just LEARN TO BUDGET YOU COULD MAKE THAT WORK, they give the most awesome and impractical suggestions for making work play nicely with your Most Important Role – That Of Mother:

  • Start a wildly successful home-based business!
  • Have a job where you can take your baby to work with you! (Their best example of this kind of apparently super baby-friendly job is “Selling real estate”.)
  • Have a job with on-site childcare so you can spend hours a day running over to the care center to hang out with your kid! People in serious professional offices across the land are TOTALLY COOL WITH THIS.
  • Why not have your child’s care provider bring the child to you several times a day for nurturing?
  • If you absolutely must work, consider splitting a single job with your husband! (I should totally talk to the US Army about this scheme.)
  • Say, have you considered just not working and simply borrowing money to make up for the lost income? You can always go back to work later to pay off the debt. (THIS IS A REAL SUGGESTION. Sure… I’ll just casually borrow 30k a year, guys. “What, a college fund? Hahaha, you have to be kidding! I stayed home and changed your diapers instead. It was basically as expensive as Harvard… ENJOY.”)
  • I don’t know, man. I don’t really care if people stay home with their babies or take their babies to work at the real estate convention with them or sell their babies on the black market**.

    But because I have this personality problem where I am ordinarily very biddable but also get really grouchy when people lecture me and tell me what to do, sometimes Dr. Sears just GETS MY GOAT. It makes me all rebellious. I had previously been in pretty much total agreement with Seth that we’d ideally prefer to have one parent at home with the Lentil most of the time until he or she is old enough to get a job in commercials and start funding our IRAs, but then I read this chapter and now I am all “I AM GOING TO BE SIGOURNEY WEAVER IN WORKING GIRL, WHY DON’T YOU BITE ME.”

    My stupid rebelliousness problem is also why, every single time I have a cup of coffee during this pregnancy, I have been getting an illicit little thrill. YEAH THAT’S RIGHT, I AM DRINKING CAFFEINE, A SUBSTANCE THAT HAS ABSOLUTELY ZERO NEGATIVE EFFECT ON A PREGNANCY OR A FETUS BELOW A CERTAIN QUITE HIGH AMOUNT. THIS IS THE FIRST CUP I HAVE HAD THIS MONTH. BUT YOU DON’T KNOW THAT. SO THERE.

    Pregnant rebel without a cause! I’m like the gestating version of James Dean, man.

    PS, I was at a diner earlier tonight, and there was a family with a very young toddler (I am amazingly bad at estimating baby ages. I’m all “What is that kid, like… four?” and he’ll be 11 months or whatever.) who was having a tantrum.

    IT TOTALLY FREAKED ME OUT. First his parents did the thing where they tried not to notice him. And then they kept offering him things on the table. As his little toddler shrieks got louder and louder, HOW DARE THEY OFFER HIM THE WRONG THINGS. THEY WERE ALL WRONG! OBVIOUSLY HE DIDN’T WANT A SPOON. MORONS.

    And then his dad kept trying to ask WHAT HE WANTED. But the little boy only offered more shrieking.

    And finally his parents admitted to themselves that he was not going to be quiet, so the mom wearily got up from the table and prepared to cart him outside (and he was doing that awesome stiff arching thing and flailing around and banging his head) and then the waitress appeared with a single-serving pack of cookies.

    And the little boy instantly shut up.

    And peace returned to the restaurant.

    And I was filled with terror, as I saw the NEXT TWO TO THREE YEARS OF MY LIFE PLAY OUT IN HARSH TECHNICOLOR.

    *You guys, seriously, WHERE ARE MY PLAQUES. I have received hardly any to date. This is just unacceptable.

    ** On an episode of Southland, someone mentioned that people had offered to buy his baby. I find this fascinating. I mean, what do you think you can get for a healthy white baby on the black market? Where do you even FIND the black market for babies? Do you run an ad on Craigslist? Do you have to use code phrases?

    “HAIRLESS 8-POUND PUPPY, WEARS DIAPERS AND DRINKS HUMAN MILK OR REASONABLE FACSIMILE, IN EXCELLENT MECHANICAL AND COSMETIC CONDITION. AVAILABLE NOW. ADOPTION FEE $58,000 FIRM.”

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    3 responses to “Some old white dude is happy to teach you how to be a mom

    1. OK it isn’t a plaque. But kudos anyhow. Being a mom is waaaaay scary. It is also waaaaaaaaaaay wonderful. They usually balance out.
      Don’t know the book you are reading, but i picked up the Penelope Leach book which seemed to me to be nicely balanced and commonsenseical. I can send it if you’d like or just keep it here.

      As for working, if you have to, you have to, and kids survive. The trick there is decent child care.Key word trick. Ron and I worked opposite shifts all our life together so there was usually someone home with the kids. Or home when they got back from school. It is also essential to have girlfriends in the same life stage to share with. But, key is babies survive and even thrive if mom works some. Maybe not 80 hours a week, but some, yeah.
      OK all that is meant to be reassuring, not preachy.

    2. so about that puppy? has it had its shots? And does it come with accessories?

    3. Welcome to the pregnant club – soon to be a member of the mom and dad club. You will be able to spot a two year old easily, can identify ketchup from blood, and will have the patience of Job.

      One in child care is doable, TWO in all day care is so fraking expensive that I couldn’t make more than I was spending. Once the kids were older I could get a low paying flexible hour job with summer/holidays off. i.e. school/college job. No second car, no vacations that include hotels or airplanes, make friends with people who have the same age kids so you can exchange babysitting. Hang on and suddenly they are grown and you can now take vacations and go out for the evening whenever you want to. That was my story – yours will be totally different. You and Seth with be the BEST parents that EVER existed on this PLANET.

      Oh, and that caffeine thing- good on ya – so many of those ‘dangerous’ when pregnant warnings are for over-the-top amounts. I remember reading Dr. Brazelton and thought his advice was reasonable, real world and healthy. As Cher said- common sense if best.

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