Tag Archive for Mommy Anxiety

Done Trying to be a Perfect Mom

closeenough

My husband is in the military, currently the National Guard. He’s gone one weekend a month, two weeks a year (at least in theory… because sometimes he’s gone a lot more and he occasionally travels for his full time job). He was recently two weeks and I swear he took half my brain with him.

It has been busy, crazy busy. In addition to finishing up one of the biggest projects I have ever worked on, an art history textbook for a program in California, we have had all of the end-of-the-year carnivals, field days, parties, preschool graduations, piano recitals, and gymnastics expos.

Oh, and we also had our Daisy troop bridging to Brownies at my house. This was supposed to happen on my deck but it was the one rainy day all month. So, we set-up in the basement.

Did I mention I am also over 5 months pregnant with baby #4?

Maybe it was because I was feeling like such a super mom after shuttling all the kids to all their various events, generally staying on top of the housework without my husband there, and throwing a magical Brownie Bridging that I overreached.

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Yes, I’m THAT Mother (Already)


When I was teaching, I swore that when I had kids I wouldn’t be that mom. Hyper-involved, helicopter-parent mom. The one who thinks her precious spawn is just so-supah smaht and needs more attention.

But here we are.

My daughter really loves structured lessons based on themes. And so, with mixed feelings about the very concept of preschool, I decided to enroll her two days a week for two and a half hours each session.

After the first day of preschool, I noticed they were writing her name on her paper. She knows how to write her name. So I told her next time she could say if she wished, “Thank you for helping me but I would like to write my own name.” And the next session, she came back with her own scrawl on the paper. Good job, kiddo.

Generally, I would prefer to stay out of things and let her work them out with some parental advice and guidance. At the same time, I am also very afraid of her getting bored in school. I got bored in school at a very young age and the results were not pretty.

I got on the horn the other day to request that if they must do dittos in preschool (which I’m not all that fond of to begin with) could my daughter could do dittos more in-line with her skill level.

For example, on her letter ditto, she is supposed to “color in” the letter–but I know she can already write the letter, identify words beginning with the letter, sound out words with that letter in them, etc. Or on another, she had to trace a pre-drawn dotted line connecting an animal with where it lives (right across from the matching animal)…why not have her free-draw a line to match the two? These are things she already does at home.

First, the teacher justified their use of dittos by saying they will have to do dittos in kindergarten.

Ummm…but she’s three. Should I hand my one year old a ditto based on that theory?

Ultimately this issue is besides the point, though, because although I’m not thrilled with dittos, my daughter thinks they are fun…so let her enjoy her dittos…can we just match her level a little more closely.

The answer to this was that they were all reviewing. That some of the kids don’t even know what it means to trace.

I’m sorry but that brought out Mama Bear. I don’t really care what the other kids do or do not know. We’re talking about my kid. Not the other kids.

I replied that as a former classroom teacher, I recognize the challenge of differentiating instruction for different skill levels. HOWEVER, these are DITTOS. Dittos already DONE INDEPENDENTLY. I’m not asking them to change their curriculum. Just PHOTOCOPY ANOTHER WORKSHEET ON THE SAME TOPIC.

I also recognize that I will be beating my head up against a one-size-fits-all system throughout my children’s lives, whatever their ability levels. However this is a private preschool, for which I pay. And I purposely chose a Montessori school because of the emphasis on independent exploration. And they have a mixed class of three to five year olds…so they are presumably already differentiating.

At this point, I feel like the teacher thinks I am pushing academics. And please, believe me when I say I am not. There are no baby flash cards, baby educational videos, or any bionic-super-duper-baby paraphernalia in my house. In fact, I’d rather her go outside and play more, or wriggle her fingers in some playdough, or finger paint, than do any dittos at all. I just don’t want her to get bored doing dittos she already knows how to do.

She assured me that most of their time was spent playing outside or indoors on the mat with the Montessori materials. She promised they would be “evaluating” (shudder … but that’s a whole ‘nother rant) the kids and differentiating soon.

As I hung up the phone, I thought about the absurdity of questioning the pedagogical tactics of teachers who spend a combined total of 5 hours a week with my child, when I spend the other 163 with her.

And I realized that yes, I have become that parent.

I guess, somewhere deep inside, maybe I always knew I was that parent. I just didn’t think the transformation would happen so very quickly.

Photo Credit: Mike Baird

You Make Me So Angry

If I may, without sounding too twee, or too much like a motivational speaker, I have a paradigm-shift suggestion.

Let’s drop the phrase “that makes me angry/sad” and all its variations from our speech.

Hear me out, please.

The idea encoded in the language is that someone or something else is making you angry or sad. As if you have no control, no choice in the matter. You are passive, acted upon.

Instead, how about, “I feel sad when…”

Which acknowledges the feeling but then opens up room for: “So to feel better I am going to…”

My generation of women, especially mothers of young children, seems so disaffected…angry…sad. As if all we do is not enough, and then somehow we are not enough. There’s this sense, somehow, that destiny had greater things in store for us, that life is somehow passing by.

As a member, however peripheral, of this community of online women, I’ve been chewing over the role bloggers play, big and small, in defining modern motherhood.

We’ve shattered the glass windows of the dollhouse, revealing how honest, witty, and smart we are. And with our sledgehammers, axes, and picks, we’ve let in the fresh air to clear the miasma and achieve the catharsis. And then with a charming, kind, and generous spirit we breathe new life.

I want to find the courage to take responsibility for my own dreams. And embrace joy, unabashedly, giddily, wholeheartedly.

We’re so Breastfeeding-Friendly, We Do Everything Except Let You Nurse Your Baby

Basking in the joy of the birth of my new, giant baby boy, I wanted to stay positive.

Still, I’d like to share my experience breastfeeding in the hospital in case it helps anyone.

Part of the reason I chose our hospital is because it is more open to a more natural birthing experience than other hospitals in the area. And, although I think this is probably true, that is unfortunately a sad commentary.

My baby and I are breastfeeding well and everyone is doing great–but I fear that if I had not already successfully breastfed my first or if I were less informed or less assertive, our breastfeeding would have been sabotaged.

Immediately following birth, barring any urgent medical needs, my baby was supposed to be placed immediately on me. Since he was so large and stuck during part of the labor, they wanted pediatrics to check him out (which I fully understand–although I suspect this could have been done with him on me, as was done with my first child). However, after they verified he had not been harmed at all during the labor, they continued with the routine, non-urgent procedures.

I kept telling them, “I want my baby! Give me my baby!” but they did not hand him over until they were done. Although in the grand scheme of it all, this is minor, I was sad that I missed that magical feeling I had with the first when she was exactly the same temperature as me and stepped her way to the breast.

After they handed him to me, I had a short time to breastfeed before they took me to repair the tear. I got him to latch on one side and just as he finished, I was placing him to the other breast when the nurse (not the Certified Nurse Midwife) came in an said, “I have to weigh him.”

I told her was breastfeeding and it could wait.

She replied that I was getting “crazy” with the breastfeeding (huh?).

I stood my ground and responded calmly (really, I swear) that he had just finished one side and I was going to feed him on the other and then she could take as many measurements as she liked.

She got very snotty and said that she was going to have to go tell the doctor that I was not allowing her to do her job.

That says a lot right there about her perception of her role and the hospital’s role in birthing babies.

Of course, she’s just one person, and my husband overheard some other nurses speaking of her in a negative way, but at the very least some retraining needs to be done.

Following the repair, I was placed in temporary Operating Room Recovery until the epidural wore off (they had given me more medication during the repair). As they wheeled me in, I saw my husband. I called out, “Why aren’t you with our son?” Perhaps not the most pleasant greeting, but I was starting to lose a bit of trust in the hospital.

“They want to give him a bottle,” he told me.

“What for?” Now I was starting to get a little nuts, “Is he okay?”

“Yes,” he reassured me, “But they said his blood sugar will start dropping because he is so big, so they want to give him a bottle. And they said if they wait too long, breastmilk won’t do it”

“But I’m breastfeeding! Bring him to me! And I’ll feed him!” I was in full on mother bear mode and unfortunately they had sent my husband and there was no target for my protective rage. My poor husband kept going back and forth to tell me the baby’s blood sugar level and to try to negotiate with the doctors to allow my son to come to me.

They first lied and told us he was under the warming lights (he wasn’t and he was perfectly healthy so there was no reason to hold him there) and then admitted they just “did not have the personnel” to bring him to me from the nursery. Now this is not a huge hospital. It takes two minutes to walk from the nursery to where I was. And post-op had no problem with me feeding him in recovery. The staff in the nursery was creating a situation where they would need to give him a bottle because they would not let me breastfeed.

And there was no reason for him to be in the nursery, anyway, as I was rooming in with him and would be in the room as soon as the maternity ward would accept me–as soon as the medication wore off. The post-op staff again was very helpful. I asked them, “How mobile? Like walking or just some approximation thereof?” They told me that maternity liked people walking but they would start releasing me as soon as I could bend both knees. I had one leg already moving and was trying to get the other one working. Eventually they took pity on me and pretended not to notice as I grabbed one of my legs with my hand and said, “Look, it is moving!”

Finally, we were in maternity recovery and they brought me my son! With the delay, it took time and patience to get him to latch. Of course, as soon as he fed his blood sugar was fine and he was healthy and wonderful.

But they had one more curve ball to throw at me–the next day they came without any notice to take him for his circumcision. They said I could not feed him even though he was due right then for another feeding. I was concerned, but they assured me it would just be an hour and then he’d be back. Three hours later…it was now six hours since my son had fed and the poor thing had just been circumcised. He was upset and had difficulty latching.

Then they started harassing me because he had not urinated since the circumcision…again they wanted to give him formula. I told them to go away and leave us alone. Of course, once he fed a few times, he was fine.

The kicker was that the day we were checking out, after all this was over, the lactation consultant comes by, sees me nursing, says “good latch,” quizzes me (how do you know if the baby is getting enough?), and then leaves. Gee, that’s helpful.

While I’m complaining, on a completely unrelated note, I got the demonically possessed hospital bed. The bed is for patients who cannot move and it automatically adjusts as you move. So when I shifted my weight in my sleep, the bed moved, waking me. If I lowered it so I could get out to use the bathroom, it raised. And of course it was noisy, too.

As you can imagine, I could not wait to break out of that place!

To add one last final insult, they insisted I be pushed out in a wheelchair by a staff member. I would have protested, but I just wanted to leave.

I think if I have a third birth, I’m going to just make the absurdly long drive to the nearest birthing center or do it at home.

All of this is not to say you cannot breastfeed if medical need requires your child to have a bottle early on, nor is it to criticize those who choose to formula feed–but just to show how hospital policies that are not always rooted in actual medical need, can create problems during the crucial early stage of breastfeeding. This is why we need to promote breastfeeding and support nursing mamas!

Okay… end rant. Back to enjoying motherhood!

Promoting Breastfeeding and Supporting Mamas

I started writing this post on MOMformation and it just felt too long, too serious, and too preachy…so over there I am publishing the TOP TEN REASONS I LOVE BREASTFEEDING and I thought I’d bore the 30 people who read this blog instead with my more philosophical ramblings 😉

You’ve heard it all before, all the benefits of breastfeeding for mother and child and their relationship. And, no doubt, if you are planning to or are breastfeeding, you’ve read all the breastfeeding tips and advice on sites like BabyCenter and KellyMom. So, if the information is out there, why are so few U.S. mothers breastfeeding?

Certainly it isn’t a lack of willingness to try. Seventy-five percent of new U.S. moms start breastfeeding but by six months that number drops to just thirty-six percent. Some small percentage are, no doubt, physically unable to breastfeed. But is something else at play here?

Personally, I breastfed my daughter exclusively (no formula and she refused the bottle) for six and a half months. I loved the convenience. I’m lazy like that. And I appreciated how she enjoyed the milk and thrived. Despite a congenital heart condition that would usually make feeding and gaining weight difficult, she hit the 90th percentile curve and followed that until she started walking. And given her medical vulnerability, I felt that any immune boost was helpful. And speaking of weight, mine dropped off immediately.

But I’m well aware that there are as many different experiences with breastfeeding as there are mothers who try to breastfeed. Why is it that so many women struggle with breastfeeding and stop before six months? How can we support women who wish to breastfeed without pressuring those who do not?

I am not a doctor, nor a sociologist. I am a mother, a friend, and a confidant. Listening to my friends, I hear common threads emerge in their stories.

Some of my friends had experiences similar to mine, finding breastfeeding initially exhausting but eventually liberating. A few struggled through immense amounts of pain due to medical conditions or infections but persevered. I’m not saying a mother should have to do that–I’m not sure I would. I even met a woman on a support board who was an adoptive mother trying to stimulate lactation. Whatever your opinion about that, I have to admire the dedication.

However, quite a few of the women I know, after bouts with postpartum depression or other illness, attempts to pump exclusively, or returning to work full time, eventually decided that breastfeeding was not a fit for their families.

A family’s decision how to feed its baby any nutritious food is their own business. I never question any individual mama’s decision to stop breastfeeding–her child, her body, her call. At the same time, I find the trend that the vast majority of mothers are not breastfeeding to six months, let alone a year, concerning as a “big picture.”

I have a few theories about this trend, and I’d be interested in your ideas.

  1. Marketing of Formula: Many doctors claim they support breastfeeding and encourage breastfeeding, but yet the offices and magazines are jam-packed with glossy ads, coupons, and offers of free samples for formula. Thank goodness formula is available for those mothers who are unable to breastfeed or choose not to. And, I certainly have no issue with companies making money. However, there is little money to be made off of breastfeeding and so, in terms of marketing dollars, it just can’t compete with formula.
  2. Medical Interventions During Delivery: Again, thank goodness for modern science. Medical interventions save babies every day. At the same time, with incredibly high rates of c-sections, some mothers and babies miss out on the first opportunity to breastfeed. Often they are still able to breastfeed, but for some this sets the stage for a stressful breastfeeding relationship.
  3. Lack of Breastfeeding Role Models: I think this is a big one. My friends and I are mostly boomer children. Our mothers, with a few exceptions, graduated college and were determined to be more than housewives and technology promised to set them free. Now grandmothers, they have, with few exceptions, any breastfeeding experience to pass along.
  4. Fears of Breastfeeding in Public: Some women may be more naturally or culturally shy about breastfeeding in public. It certainly does not help when people make nasty remarks or even try to push the woman off into an inconvenient and sometimes even uncomfortable and unhygienic place to feed her baby. In certain areas bottle feeding mothers have received nasty stares and remarks, too. And no mama needs a judgmental stranger harassing her during a vulnerable time. Truth is, there are jerks of every stripe. My guess, though, is that the mom with the bottle is not going to stop feeding her child with a bottle (because how else would she feed her baby if she’s already stopped breastfeeding?), whereas the mom with the babe at the breast may be bullied into stopping.

What helped me feel comfortable with breastfeeding in public and keep going was finding a supportive online community to share thoughts, fears, and tips about breastfeeding. What challenges do you think create these low numbers? If you tried breastfeeding and stopped, why? And if you tried breastfeeding and kept going, why? I hope you’ll take a few more moments to let me know!

Photos: Pecho y lectura by Daquealla manera; Nursing in public, the horror! by karynsig; Oh my God! by chispita

Life Line or Pipe Dream?

Parenting involves tough decisions, and here’s one:

Should we bank our son’s cord blood?

Our daughter has a congenital heart defect (Tetralogy of Fallot) and received an open heart surgery repair when she was three months’ old. She’s doing great, but will eventually need a valve. Some recent studies and trials show that it may be possible to grow a transplant valve from stem cells that would grow with the recipient–in fact, researchers have grown a heart valve from bone marrow cells.

At the end, I’ll explain why I hope you’ll consider donating cord blood if you are expecting a baby soon.

But this post is about our decision about whether or not to use a private bank to store our son’s cord blood.

Here’s where it gets complicated.

I was pulling my hair out weighing the options with little information, pouring through academic papers that were way out of my field. Finally, I found this really helpful article about whether or not to bank cord blood, that gave me some more information so I could make up my mind.

Will the technology work?
This, of course, is just speculation. Who knows what they will be using ten or twenty years from now. So, no real answers there. If your child has a disease that is currently treatable with cord blood, you can apply for Sibling Donor Programs that will cover the costs for you. Since this is still experimental for heart valves, our daughter would not qualify–but it is good to know about these programs other parents are able to use.

If they do build a transplant valve, will it be more likely that they will use her bone marrow cells or cells from cord blood?

Hard to say. In many children currently being treated with stem cells, their own cells contain the genetic markers for the disease and is therefore unusable. However, that is not an issue when growing a replacement valve. Therefore, our daughter’s bone marrow would provide an exact genetic match without the issues involved in treating children with other diseases. Also, a single cord blood unit often does not contain enough cells to treat the patient. If my daughter is ultimately treated with cord blood, there is a possibility the surgeons will need multiple units, anyway.

Are we more likely to find a match from her brother’s cord blood or from a public bank?

If we do use cord blood at some point for her, it seems likely we would have to turn to a public bank. Although the chances of finding tissue matches among family is higher than finding tissue matches in a group of strangers, the odds are only 25% that any one sibling is a tissue match. On the other hand, it appears that the numbers game changes the odds. If thousands of samples are available in public banks, the odds are much better that one of these will be a match than the blood banked from one sibling. And, as I mentioned above, many treatments require multiple units anyway.

When will she need it?

We’ve gotten different answers from different doctors. Some say in her early teens, while others believe she will be able to wait until her early 20s. This matters, because we’re not sure about the length of storage possible for cord blood. Some studies suggest it may last up to fifteen years or more…or it may not. So, even assuming we bank her brother’s blood and it is a match and the technology is there and it is enough to grow her a valve, the blood may no longer be usable when we need it.

So, what does this all mean?

To bank privately or not is a hard decision. I would spend any amount of money to give my daughter the best shot at a healthy life. Many patients with valve replacements live long, full lives. At the same time, it seems foolish to throw thousands of dollars at a pipe dream–money that could be spent giving her and her brother other opportunities.

Current transplant valve materials all have issues and all require replacement approximately every 15-20 years. Heart surgery is growing by leaps and bounds, however, and it is entirely possible that a valve grown from stem cells (or made out of another material, like the super-elastic, shape-memory metal alloy called “thin film nitinol”) may be a real option for my daughter.

So, that doesn’t let any of us off the hook!!! Please donate cord blood!

Public banks of cord blood will be the source of stem cells for many potentially life-saving treatments for leukemia, lymphoma, sickle-cell anemia, immune deficiency diseases, aplastic anemia, thalassemia and probably more in the future. If you give birth at a qualifying hospital, without any charge you can donate cord blood, which contains stem cells that may save a child’s life.

Go Ahead, Make My Day (34 Weeks Prenatal Visit)

We went to the 34 Week Prenatal Visit last night. Yes, it was the same midwife from last time, though she seemed to have relaxed and there were no more awkward non-joke jokes.

We have decided to have a hospital birth because my first child was born with a complex heart condition and my husband was deployed during the last birth. We considered a home birth, but decided that wasn’t the best option this time for our family as a whole. Although I wish we had the “middle ground” option of a birthing center, that isn’t available in our area.

So, at this visit, I brought a draft of the birth plan to get an idea of what to emphasize. Our hospital is actually the best in our area both as a medical facility and in terms of what I want for the birth–the midwife practice has a very low c-section rate, less than half the national average, and the other area hospitals do not offer rooming in. So, all was going relatively well until we got to the part about allowing labor to progress naturally even after the membranes release.

Although she said they are willing to let things take their natural course, she casually mentioned that if I develop a fever during labor, my son will be brought to the NICU for antibiotics until he is cleared to go.

“The WHAT?”

Last time I did in fact develop a fever, which no one noticed until my mom said, “She’s burning up.” The wait for antibiotics stalled the labor but in the end, everything worked out fine. After she was born, my daughter was given antibiotics in an IV drip in our room. After 24 hours, she checked out fine and, if it weren’t for the heart murmur, we would have been able to leave.

So, explain to me why my son would need to go to a NICU to receive antibiotics?

According to the midwife: “That was Texas. I don’t know of any hospital in New York that does that. That’s the policy.”

Hopefully this won’t be an issue. But what bothers me the most is the pressure it puts on once the membranes release–the threat of separation hanging over you, pressuring you to make decisions you don’t want to make. If labor isn’t progressing, then here comes the suggestion of pictocin (don’t want to get an infection and be separated), and then the increased risk of a c-section. Last time I had pit but no c-section (thankfully), but that’s a fairly typical downward spiral of how a mama who wants to have a natural or vaginal birth can lose control of her own labor. To me this is not allowing things to take their course.

Later on, I find out that they have a “non-separation bonus” which means that, if requested in advance, the standard heel-pricking, etc. are done in the room with you unless they don’t have enough staffing.

Would I have found out about this if I hadn’t strongly expressed the desire to not be separated from my newborn son?

And, sorry…we’ll wait until staffing is available for non-urgent medical procedures. Unless someone’s life is in danger, no one is taking my newborn son from me.

Out in the parking lot, I turned to my husband and said, “You know, I can refuse consent…if there’s a problem, we may find out how security reacts to a postpartum mama who refuses to hand over her baby.”

He gave me that look you give the strange guy on the street who mutters to himself.

“Will you back me up?”

He still looked a bit anxious, but to his credit the man said yes.

Tenth Year Reunion, Toddler in Tow, Third Trimester

Last weekend we returned to the alma mater, place of my meeting with Captain Dad. Because we share our reunion year, we brought along the tot. And, of course, I have no option but to bring along the unborn one.

Ten year is definitely the baby reunion. I think it may also be the existential crisis reunion, too.

Back in college, we all thought we were going to make a difference.

After all, we were young and bright, with our whole lives stretching before us. We were connecting with one another in long, late night conversations and debates. Our professors, some of the best in academia, actually made time to have coffee and discuss our ideas. And that soon-to-be published poet chatting with that future physicist? Pure synergy in the making. We were beautiful in that way that the young are.

Ten years is long enough for a few of us to have actually taken significant steps towards that brighter future. We now count among our ranks producers and actors with actual television, Broadway, and film credits; a few writers with published books; political operatives who have actually risen above the rank of intern; and others well along the path to possible greatness.

And the rest of us?

I’ve always wanted to be a mama, and my daughter is the light of my life.

But padding through the streets of New Haven on my increasingly swelling feet, carrying almost 50 pounds more than in yesteryear (only about 25 of which is junior’s fault), with one eye on a toddler, making superficial chit chat with people who I used to fancy knew my soul, could be crushing at times.

Captain Dad took great pleasure introducing his beautiful daughter and then, pointing in the direction of my swelling belly, “And this is junior.” And I suppose some of my swelling could have been pride, as well. But “breeding” was not really a major at our university.

We stayed in campus housing and our “roomate” echoed my own anxieties. I thought I would have more to say than I am a mother and a freelance writer. What was it I used to dream, wide-eyed, waking?

And possibly I’m projecting, but on the drunken visages of the few remaining single men, I seemed to notice a dawning disappointment in their lucrative, but ultimately ordinary jobs. With more time for the gym, most of them had shed the initial pounds from rich, corporate dinners they put on before the five year. Their bodies had slimmed and their wallets grown more bloated. But, perhaps the mid-six figures isn’t all it is cracked up to be?

What is the good life? And where will we find it, venturing out of the tower? And, do we have the courage to live it?

Taking the Plunge

My daughter has been almost constantly by my side since she was born. The number of times we’ve been apart is in the single digits.

Call it baby separation anxiety.

At the start, it was new mommy attachment–I didn’t want someone else taking her because she was my baby. I had just worked through 24 hours of difficult labor with complications to bring her into the world, and I felt like I wanted to hold her forever.

Then, we found out about her heart condition and I found myself alone. With my husband deployed and family so far away, it didn’t seem fair to ask another to accept the responsibility for her care, assuming anyone would have.

After the operation, there were months of house hunting and moving and several phases of developmentally appropriately stranger anxiety. And recently, she added the breath-holding and fainting to her infrequent but intense toddler explosions.

Most of the time, though, she is a happy and social child. A real flirt at playdates, where I notice little toddler boys feeding her fruit.

When I signed her up for swim lessons, I thought we would enjoy the experience together. But the Mommy and Me class was geared for much younger babies–“Now if your baby has good neck control, you can try this…”

So, I held my breath and dove in–splurging on the individual lessons. Lessons that required I hand my precious child to another person and then walk away. I could watch from the observation deck, but she would not be able to see me.

As she approaches her second birthday, I am realizing it is long past time. Time for her to embrace new experiences. A healthy attachment is a beautiful thing and so important at the start. At the same time, I do not want to limit her. I have to let go, just a little, so she can grow.

I know she feels loved and secure. I knew she could do it. I just was not so sure about me.

So, yesterday at the the pool, I released her into the arms of a trustworthy someone who is not a blood relation.

And for the first ten minutes she screamed. She howled and raged at the betrayal. And I gripped the rail and felt terrible, for her, for myself, and especially for her poor, patient swim teacher.

But after that, she was finally distracted by the joys of the pool, the fun toys, and the excitement of actually being encouraged to kick–the lure of the forbidden fruit. She swam, and she smiled, and she didn’t even start crying tears of accusation when I returned poolside to pick her up 30 minutes later.

All the way back home and the rest of the day she talked about “swim fun.”


There you stood on the edge of your feather, expecting to fly. While I laughed, I wondered whether I could wave goodbye… (Expecting to Fly, Neil Young, Buffalo Springfield)

I Kept My Big Mouth Shut…

As a former teacher, I have a tendency to lecture inform share my knowledge with others, particularly in museums and in the globally-influenced decor aisle of Target.

But I really, really try to keep my yap quiet when it comes to casual strangers and their parenting. Almost every day someone stops me and asks me about my sling or diaper bag or something else and I’m happy to share. But if I am not asked for my advice, I don’t go around shoving it in people’s faces.

There’s that saying about opinions being like a certain part of the anatomy–just because everyone has one, doesn’t mean we need to hear yours.

Of course, if I saw a child locked alone in a car or a parent beating a child, I would call the authorities, but if it is merely a matter of parenting style, I do remain silent.

Parenting becomes so wrapped up in our identities, particularly for those who are the primary caretakers. Certainly no new parent who hasn’t asked needs to be bombarded with my opinions on breastfeeding, plastic, or shopping cart covers.

There are times, though, when a parent, seems to be unknowingly putting her child at risk and I don’t know where to draw the line.

The other day, I was walking along, with Baby Diva in one of our many slings. Another mother was wearing her baby in a Baby Bjorn and we locked eyes and shared a smile, an unspoken babywearers’ bond.

And then I caught my breath and almost opened my mouth.

No, I wasn’t going to tell her that hard carriers may hinder baby’s proper hip placement–that falls under the smile, nod, didn’t ask, so don’t tell category.

What I saw was a very young infant, adorably passed out, but with his head thrown almost all the way back. The carrier was so loose that if baby was any larger, mom would certainly be unable to walk. I was concerned that baby could fall out and even more concerned that he couldn’t breathe properly in that position.

So, should I have said something? Or was it none of my business? Where do you draw the line?