Oooh I've had a post brewing for some time now. Gather round, I feel a rant a-comin!
Something's been bothering me for a while and I need to talk about it, to share it, to see how others feel about it.
The issue of labelling ourselves and each other, of putting ourselves in boxes has been irking me more and more. To the point now where it's bugging me so much I have to go arrrggggghhh!!!!!
I wrote about this phenomena in issue 25 of Juno magazine. I wanted to give permission back to mamas to trust in themselves instead of religiously following parenting gurus, to put the power back in their hands, to say "Hey, it's ok to do things your way - YOU are wise".
I find myself in a weird paradox - writing for parents is of itself an act of instruction in some ways, an act of hoping to enlighten or entertain, to provoke thought, to plant seeds in the mind and heart of the reader and yet my message really is to ignore the prophets and take their wisdom with a handful of salt.
So how can I write without preaching? Who the hell am I to preach anyway? I am no better than you.
I'm really tiring of smug bloggers telling others how to live, what to think, what is right and wrong, how to be a better parent, bla bla bla. Black and white, wrong and right, smug, smug, smug. Blogs that attack anything less than perfect mothering. Who decides what that looks like anyway? Isn't it kinda arrogant to assume your way is the only one true way?
I'm more in favour of real. Of happy and sad. Of glorious moments and big ol' fuck ups. Of the landscape of parenting that accounts for the myriad of different emotions, trials and situations that a mother finds herself in before she has even begun to have babies.
Cos mothers are not exactly blank slates y'know? We come with all kinds of head and heart baggage. getting through the day is sometimes a nobler thing than following some method 100%.
Homeschooling is no less immune to smug boxes than any other area of parenting. Folks proudly assign themselves to being a particular kind of homeschooler, as if that was the only and most important thing about them in the universe. There are more labels than WHSmith, categories, sub categories.... it's like the People's Front of Judea/ Judean People's front thing - kinda hilarious really but people take it SO seriously!
It's the same with breastfeeding labels.... I say this as someone who breastfed all my babies - but do we really need all the categories and sub-categories? Is it some kind of competition? Isn't it simply enough to be a breastfeeder? Who the hell's business is it anyway???
Or being a sling-wearer. Wearing a baby needs a label? Really? Is someone who wears their baby in a piece of cloth better than one who carries them in arms? If there is a perception that this is better - why? By whom?
Or being a home-birther. Having had three home births doesn't make me a better mother than someone else. Maybe I had a more enjoyable and satisfying experience than some women but that's not the same as being better than them. Surely?!
Of course I am not attacking anyone who has a home birth, carries their baby in a sling, is a breastfeeder, or home-schools in a particular way. Some of my dearest friends do all of the above! I'm picking on the labels nearest to me but in truth I am anti ALL labels. All divisions. All plinths and platforms and pedestals that people put themselves on in their holier-than-thou quest to justify their way and convert the rest of the world.
I'm done with preaching of any kind. I've done it myself. I've felt the anger about the injustice of bla bla bla, felt the smugness of feeling oh-so-right about my choices and my stance. I'm realising more and more that what may be perfect for me and mine would not suit my neighbour - and that is ok. Instead of trying to convert the rest of the world to my way it's actually ok that we are different. I enjoy and take responsibility for my parenting choices and reserve the right to change my mind about them as often as I damn well like! But I'm no better or worse as a human being for them? I'm just doing what feels natural to me. Natural parenting is essentially just that. Doing what feels natural to you. No more, no less. It's not a tick-list of attributes about what nappies you use or whether you vaccinate or not. It's whether you are behaving in a way that is natural as opposed to forcing yourself into an un-natural, "natural" box.
I'm fed up of smug, smug, smug! I'm fed up of competitiveness in mothering! It only divides. It is a hard enough job without us all bitching each other and ourselves into boxes!!!
Don't put me in a box till I'm six feet under. It's the only one you'll ever get me in.
Even unconventional boxes are still just that - a straitjacket!
Break free mamas!