Thursday, April 3, 2008

Happy National Poetry Month!

So, the topic of writing is sort of off-topic, but I'm participating in the Poem a Day challenge at Robert Lee Brewer's blog, Poetic Asides, for the month of April, and I'm finding that my poems so far are informed by and related to my parenting.

You can read my take on the poem-a-day challenge at my writing blog here.

I thought I'd be brave and share my response to the prompt for Day 2:

"Put yourself in someone (or something) else's skin and write a poem about the experience. Who (or what) ever you become, please make that the title of the poem."

I've been feeling a mix of attacked and judgmental lately about my parenting style when I come into contact with other parents. If I have a change to talk with them in depth, I gain a sense of their story and their hearts and stop being angry at them, but I can (and do) still disagree with many of the parenting choices I see around me, and more so in that I sense that these choices were not so much chosen as fallen into without thought. I realize that it's really the ones that (in my eyes) harm the baby that bother me most, such as not trying to breastfeed or not picking up a crying baby. I never know how to approach these topics with other parents, though, so I just...don't. If I'm asked point blank "Do you use cloth diapers, and why?" then, of course, I offer my take on the issue, but if I'm told, "We're not using cloth -- icky!" then I feel loath to bring up my counterarguments, as I suspect they're not welcome, would be ignored, and might offend.

In talking about this with some good friends lately (non-parents, whom I have scared off from remaining friends with me if and when they reproduce), I realized that maybe my being calm and confident in my parenting is part of the answer. Maybe I don't have to be a talking advertisement for attachment parenting if I'm a walking one. I would think my being open and uncriticizing is better than being verbally judgmental, anyway, and it's quite possible that even my attitude is coming across as judgmental, without my saying a word, and turning people off to new ideas as a matter of course.

Then my friends brought up an entirely new line of thought for me -- maybe some of them really are admiring me. Maybe they wish they could handle cloth diapers or tying their baby on in a sling but feel too bound by convention and their parents and their pediatricians. And maybe my example will inspire them to be brave.

So, all these thoughts roiling through my head, I wrote the following. Let me emphasize that the point of this monthlong challenge is to write first drafts, so give me my time to revise in May and enjoy the fun of this attempt. It made me laugh, anyway! Remember that the title is the perspective that I'm taking in the poem, with them looking at me.

Other Parents

I see you sitting,
smug and mature,
with your breast bared in your infant’s mouth,
huge 5-year-old-size boy
who’s months older than mine
and with too much hair,
too many teeth,
too much fat to be eating so much.
I see you with your crunchy books,
your eco-breastfeeding warrior handouts,
your La Leche League bag,
your dogeared Mothering magazine,
your cloth diapers and wool covers
and homemade baby sling.
You think I don’t see you,
but I see you.
And, d***, I wish I was
cool like you.

Hey, a mama can dream!


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