Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cafeteria Mom

I really love cafeteria food, and I think it's because
I've always enjoyed having different choices.

There are so many labels out there for different parenting styles. While talking to a friend and mentioning all of the different types she said, "It's like speaking a new language."  It can feel confusing and overwhelming.  What's even worse is when you as a parent do not fit in or agree completely with any one philosophy or way of doing things.

When I first became a mom I found myself really wanting to connect with other moms.  All of my friends that had kids lived far away and I wanted to be able to go to play dates and meet with people in person that could provide me with the support that I needed.  I started joining Facebook mom groups. Groups that were supposed to be inclusive and a safe space for moms to speak their minds.  I soon found out this wasn't the case, at least not for me.  Every group I joined had a parenting style that they preferred, and if I didn't agree with that style I was wrong and they were right.  I began to feel really angry, isolated, and picked on.  I wondered why I couldn't find somewhere where I belonged. 

 I began to reminisce about my teenage years and realized that this is a problem I've always had.  Growing up I never followed the path everyone else I knew did.  In high school I was a 4-H kid (think farm animals, agriculture, country music, and cowboy boots) that loved indie music and vampire books (that was way before Twilight made vampires popular).  In college I was an English major who had grown up speaking a different language, and I even had someone say to me, "You don't meet very many English majors of Mexican descent." He didn't say it to be rude, it was totally true! At least on our campus.  

As an adult I once again encountered this dilemma. To make it a little clearer I'll run through some of the different parenting styles and methods I follow.  Before having Ethan I read the book Bringing up Bebe and it really resonated with me.  The French form of parenting made a lot of sense and fit my personality.  Parts of French parenting of course didn't sit well, but I chose what I liked and let go of what I didn't, that's my style.  On the opposite side of that spectrum I had always grown up wanting to have a natural child birth, and upon researching I had decided that I wanted to try having a homebirth; I was also very dedicated to breastfeeding my child and pumping while at work.  Once I had Ethan I got really into babywearing.  Although, I also used my stroller regularly because sometimes I was tired and didn't feel like wearing my baby.  Once I started work I found that sleep training would be a necessity if I wanted to make it through the next year, and that Ethan would need to sleep in his own room.  We sleep trained Ethan but hoping to do a better job with the second baby, I am planning on trying some of the methods in the book On Becoming Baby Wise.  Just like with Bringing up Bebe there are parts of the book I agree with, and parts I don't, so I don't plan on making it my ultimate guide to child rearing but there are definitely aspects of the book that have helped me set a plan for how I'll sleep train this second time around.  I'm also very into homeopathic and natural remedies, while being a full supporter of vaccinations.

This is where my dilemma comes in, I have never been able to commit to one form of living or thinking, and I never will.  All of the methods I mentioned above are borrowed from parenting styles that are all so different that moms from each group have famously waged different sides of the Mommy Wars.  All of this has brought me to the term I often use jokingly, I am a Cafeteria Mom! I am never going to commit to one form of parenting or one ideal, I love being able to pick and choose what works for me and my family and what doesn't.  If you're the type of parent that is part of a parenting community that you completely agree with, then awesome! If you're like me and have never quite felt like you belonged anywhere, just know that you're not alone.

The Jenny Evolution

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