The Path of Moderate Resistance

I believe that taking the path of least resistance–while very Tao, maaan, VERY Tao–is usually the lazy path, the indecisive path, the path of fear and trepidation and the path least likely to lead to change or measurable results.

I also believe that taking the path of most resistance–of choosing to do something difficult for the sake of doing it or because it’s the accepted thing to do, or somebody bullied you into it–is pointlessly messing with the natural flow of life and will probably lead to failure, pain, fear, and loss.

By the way, this is not a political post. I feel like I always have to clarify that these days.

My son had a doctor’s appointment recently and when his snarky condescending doctor asked about his sleep habits, I told her (some of) the truth: he still wakes up at night but less often. Sometimes he goes back to sleep on his own, sometimes he calls for me and I have to lie down with him to get him back to sleep.

She didn’t say anything, but she did give me the wicked side eye. She’s a proponent of sleep training, you see. She has three children and she’s a doctor so she knows everything there is to know about children and sleep habits. Except for children who hate sleeping, of course, which is my child.

I know that if I had asked (and belieeeeeve me, I learned not to ask for her advice or opinion a long time ago), she would have chided me for not reading the 6 books she recommended to me forever ago and told me that I’m a horrible mother for helping my child fall asleep. She also once told me that if I rock my infant son, he’ll still be 13 years old and expecting me to rock him. I’m absolutely positive that’s true. All 13-year-old boys who were rocked to sleep demand their mothers rock them every night. That’s common knowledge, right?

But my son’s like me: busy minded. And it’s hard for us to fall asleep. So I lie down with him. We watch a couple of videos on my phone (also a no-no according to everyone who can sleep without help). We talk about what we did that day or about his toys or about the video we just watched. And I let him snuggle up to me and pull my head toward his for kisses until he falls asleep.

I don’t think I’m taking the path of least resistance. I don’t co-sleep (unless I fall asleep there which… happens but it’s not a parenting philosophy so much as a pitfall). I don’t succumb to every pre-bed time request (more water, more videos, more play time).

But I refuse to take the path of most resistance because of the damage I know it’ll do. He’s still a young toddler and I don’t see anything wrong with helping him get to sleep. I do all the things with him that I do on my own to help me fall asleep. When he gets a little older, I’ll teach him that he can do all of those things by himself. But I’m not going to leave him crying or screaming or helpless to get his body to rest when I know what the problem is and how to solve it. That’s just cruel.

I get the feeling that a lot of the “training” activities the “experts” are so fond of are just excuses for adults to be selfish and force their children to be more convenient. Potty training at 16 months? It’s because you don’t want to change diapers anymore. Cry It Out? It’s because you want to get more sleep. I like convenience too but I also enjoy not screwing up my kid for the sake of my ME time.

30nn9kz

Change is Nature’s Way of Saying STOP SCREWING THIS UP

As a writer, I think this is beautiful. As a mother, I am horrified. HORRIFIED. And disgusted. You have a fucking village, you savages! I’ve got a village of 5 people and 4 of them work full time but we still manage to take care of my kid.

The old ways are bullshit. That’s why we keep inventing new ways.

 

“Those who are unable to believe in the old ways go south, where life loses this rawness.” In the Tin House archives, writer Emma Cline publishes flash fiction, “Perseids,” set in Tasiilaq, Greenland.

via Perseids — Discover

Smug Mommy Shame Writers

I think I should state for the record that this has nothing to do with any sort of bitterness over not having any of my submissions accepted, because I’m not bitter. You can’t be a writer and hold grudges like that or you’ll go nutballs. I’m much too busy to go nutballs, you see. So no, this isn’t about bitterness.
Scary Mommy is getting harder and harder to read. For me. In general. Because THE OPINIONS, my God, the OPINions! I can’t handle the “I’m never doing this again” or “Moms who do this are crazy” articles and there’s just so many of them.

I’ve been a mom for less than 2 years so I am hardly an expert but I gotta tell ya, the road to sanity for this parent is all about flexibility, adaptability, and an understanding of the bigger picture.

This is how it works:

  • I have a parenting theory based on a value so I’m going to do THIS.
  • Wow, THIS failed spectacularly. I’m gonna have to do something different. I’ll try THAT.
  • No, THAT didn’t work either. OK, how about THIS OTHER THING.
  • THIS OTHER THING seems to be going well but I feel bad that THIS and THAT didn’t work. Am I a bad parent? No. Because forcing THIS or THAT on my child when it clearly doesn’t work for him would be bad parenting. I have to understand that my job as a parent is to get my child safely through childhood, instilling good values as best I can, until he becomes an adult and can choose his own values.

 

smug-mom-meme-280x185And that’s all there is to it*. I’m not going to shame myself or let myself be shamed for failure to follow through on something that’s not working, something I don’t believe in, something someone else is pushing on me but I feel iffy about, or some bullcrap that some freaking mommy blogger with a PhD in skimming Parenting magazine articles and then forming a silly opinion that she thinks applies to every other human is touting as gospel truth. No, thank you.

I’m not saying I won’t read magazines or blogs or Pinterest or even Scary Mommy sometimes because I’ve gotten some really good ideas from them. But just because it’s working for one parent or even several doesn’t mean that it’s for me.

And that’s… ok.

Unless you’re writing one of the overwhelmingly prevalent articles for Scary Mommy where you bitch about all the people making bento boxes for their kid’s lunches because WHO HAS TIME FOR THAT CRAP?! Well, the parents making those boxes are using the time they have to do something they enjoy to make their kids happy. Does that mean you have to do it too or you’re a bad parent? No. I’m sure some of those box-makers are smug better-than-youers, but some of them just enjoy food art.

What about those stupid crafty parents making HOME MADE HALLOWEEN COSTUMES?! HOW DARE YOU use your skills and hobbies to benefit your child because it makes both you and your child happy? HOW DARE YOU then post your creations to social media where you can show your friends and family something you’ve made that you’re proud of? HOW DO YOU THINK THAT MAKES ME FEEL not having the same skills nor the time nor the patience to do the same for my child? I’m gonna write a Scary Mommy article about that shaming you because if I feel bad that I can’t do what you do, you should feel bad about it too.

Moms, Dads, Guardians of children, Guardians of the Galaxy, you all need to relax. There are as many ways of showing your kids you love them as there are children in the world. All you have to do is find the thing that you know how to do or that you’d like to learn how to do and figure out how to use that to show your child you love them. And it doesn’t have to be showy or impressive and you don’t have to post it on Pinterest or Facebook to make it count.

Just love your kid the way you can. Just… love your kid.

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Me and my son, pretty much.

*Haha, just kidding. Parenting is wicked hard.

30 Minutes of Wonderful

My son was startled awake from his morning nap once several months ago when I opened the front door to retrieve a package that had just been delivered. He shrieked and ran to the living room gate, shaking it violently and screaming his name for me. I ran back up the stairs to see what was wrong and as soon as he saw me, he collapsed in a fit of the most heart-wrenching sobs I’ve ever heard. He thought I left him. He was scared and I wasn’t there to tell him it was OK. I’ve never had my heart broken like that and I’m not ashamed to say that I joined him on the floor and cried with him until we both caught our breath and calmed down. He wouldn’t let me out of his sight for the rest of the day.

shelbyAs I mentioned on Twitter, I saw Steel Magnolias for the first time over the weekend. My son took a long nap Saturday morning followed by some very focused self-entertaining play time involving play food and Ninja Turtles. While I can appreciate a lot about the film, I had a lot of trouble relating to the characters: conservative Southern ladies with a penchant for gossip who, although they were strong-willed and resourceful, didn’t seem to take any responsibility for the things that happened to them. Dolly Parton’s character wasn’t a savvy business-owner but a woman with an out-of-work husband who had to make due. Homegirl had a thriving salon. Take credit for that, woman; you did that yourself! Annelle maybe married a criminal but it wasn’t her fault, settled that nonsense and went off on a wild sinfest which wasn’t her fault, and then found Jesus again after a gambling trip that wasn’t her fault. Take some responsibility for your mistakes, yo. I have very little respect for people who just let things happened to them and shrug it off as not their fault.

Eventually, I saw through the facade of 80s cinema trying to make a non-confrontational women’s movie with female characters who could kick some a, but would never brag about it and focused on Ms. Julia. Yes, there are times you need to pshaw your doctors and make miracles happen (Walk On, Bruce Lee) but having a child isn’t the kind of situation where you just throw caution to the wind and hope things work out. You don’t say, “Well, this might kill me but as long as I get what I want for a little while, I don’t mind the risk.” To hell with that, I say. That is selfish talk. THAT is irresponsible and the reason I’m gonna go ‘head and hate this movie is because it showed me my very worst fear: my baby screaming for me as I lie unconscious on the floor, unable to comfort him.

Now, I had some postpartum complications that laid me up a little while and a surgery that made lifting my little love nugget almost impossible for a couple weeks but it was all unforeseen health issues I had no way of knowing would affect us the way it did. And honestly, it wasn’t all that bad. But the guilt and the ache I felt at not being able to even lift my baby sent me into hysterical crying fits (also, the hormones made me less than rational). I had food poisoning once and had to stop in the middle of a diaper change to go vomit and felt like the worst mother in the world. So to know full well that pregnancy would irrevocably damage my body such that I didn’t know how long I’d be around to raise my child? No. No, Shelby, you selfish piece of garbage, it is not worth it to have loved and lost in that way because it’s not about you, bitch.

And speaking of bitches who selfishly abandon their children, dying of a broken heart? I’m looking at you, Padme Amidala. Physically healthy but with no will to live? You think you’re the first woman whose husband turned out to be a piece of crap? You can’t deal, so you’re just gonna die? Leave your babies, who you’re alive enough to name, but not enough to think of a reason to live? Selfish. Although, to be fair, I consider that whole business to  have been created by the warped and inhuman brain of George Lucas who is himself a cyborg that doesn’t fully understand human emotion. Still. Selfish.

So here I am, Monday morning, with that image from Steel Magnolias playing over and over in my head of the little boy screaming while Shelby lays unconscious by the telephone. I’m here making sure my son can see me when he wakes up. I’m running to the bathroom to pee quick as I can. I’m making a mental checklist of my biggest fears and pushing “Surviving the apocalypse alone” and “Spiders” down to numbers 2 and 3. Oh, and I’m also trying not to be a total neurotic nut about this whole business which, frankly, is taking up most of my mental space today.

Will I get any writing today that isn’t about mom guilt and George Lucas conspiracies? Probably not. Might be a better day for laundry and bill paying and meeting the needs of house and family rather than personal fulfillment. Tomorrow, I’ll go back to storytelling.