Sunday, February 24, 2008

Be careful what you wish for

So we braved church again this week, because our other options fell through. Doesn't that sound like a good reason to go? And I had been thinking that we might enjoy our time more if anyone else shared the cry room with us.

But I was wrong.

Because there were two other couples with young babies, and they just made me mad.

I really wish I didn't get annoyed so easily, and that I could make friends more readily by generously ignoring or excusing the differences in others that clash with my own values.

I guess I should stop wishing and start doing.

But I'll go ahead and let you know what was bugging me, because I'm not mature yet.

One of the babies started talking, and the mother said, "Quick, give me the pacifier" and then tried to keep it in the baby's mouth the rest of the service. For talking? In the CRY ROOM? And then they kept apologizing to us for the noise their baby was making, when ours wasn't exactly sound-free. I mean, the cry room is specifically for babies to make noise. It's like feeling guilty for being sick in a hospital.

And then both families kept giving their babies a bottle, and they discussed with each other during the greeting time how many ounces their babies drink. I wanted them to ask me how many mine drinks, so I could say, "I don't know -- my boobs don't have a gauge on the side." But they didn't anticipate my witty rejoinder and give me an opening. (Or mabye they did anticipate it...)

I don't realize that I'm different until I'm around people who are all the same. I keep thinking my parenting choices are reasonable and natural and just the no-duh option, but then every time I'm around other parents, they're doing what's considered mainstream. Bottles and strollers and pacifiers and disposables and just everything. Why does it bother me so much?

I really don't think it's because I feel out of place -- it's more that I'm befuddled that they're not making different choices. I did the research; I read the books and articles; I thought long and hard and decided that what I've chosen is the best for my baby, and by extension, all babies. It sounds prideful and naive to say it out loud, but it's a visceral feeling when I meet these other parents and see them choosing far different options. My big problem with them is, I think, not that they use bottles and pacifiers and such, but that I question whether they ever even considered not doing so.

Did they research and read and ponder, or did they just fall into line with what everyone's "always" done?

I suspect the latter, and it burns me up. I feel bad for their babies, and these aren't monster parents or anything -- just conventional. It's even more obnoxious that they're young and hip and live in Seattle -- shouldn't they be embracing the unusual?

I think what I need to do is talk more with other parents, despite my reservations. Obviously, it can't be during church (since the cry room's a sacred no-noise zone, apparently), but maybe in more relaxed situations, we could get into a discussion of why they chose the way they did, and I could at least plant a seed that other options might be available, in a gracious, nonjudgmental, non-angry way.

I tried to breastfeed in front of them, but they wouldn't look at me. Sigh.


Susana la Banana said...

But how, exactly, do you plant a seed without sounding judgmental or rude or whatever? I have so much trouble with that! For example, a woman I know through a friend who just had a baby a few weeks ago had ALL the WRONG info about nursing and I kept telling her it was wrong but she didn't even care enough to actually look for answers herself or listen to me and at least check out what I was saying...and it just felt like my options were to tell her it was HER fault that she "couldn't breastfeed" or to just walk I just walked away. But I wish I could find a better way so maybe next time things would go differently for her and her family.

Lauren Wayne said...

I'm always making that same choice to walk away, but it feels so wrong to me, too. My only slim hope is that I've planted a seed that maybe someday will change them. And maybe not even that particular person -- maybe that woman you talked to will mention to a friend the "crazy breastfeeding lady" :) who talked to her, and the friend will start researching and breastfeeding in the future.

True story: About 4-5 years ago, I was on a forum (completely nonparenting-related) with a woman who kept recommending (graciously) natural birth, told about her own experiences in a birthing center, etc., and I felt really attacked and started defending epidurals and saying how insane it was to be a martyr, etc., etc. And then I started doing the research myself, and ended up having a natural birth and being an advocate of nonintervention. I really feel like I should track her down and apologize and thank her for planting that seed, you know? But, since I haven't, she's still feeling like it did no good for her to share her experiences and knowledge.

And so it goes. It's frustrating to feel so right and have no one (seemingly) listen. I think I like the Scott Noelle technique of approaching other (mainstream) parents with an openness, and a willingness to have them not change. That way, I don't start out on the defensive or offensive, just a readiness to hear their story, and then maybe they'll be open to hearing mine. This is my goal, but I'm not there yet.

Marla @meanderingwoman said...

I'm continually amazed with your posts! Thank you for putting words to my emotions and rampant thoughts.

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