How to bring my "Dr. Spock" mom into the AP world? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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Old 05-25-2004, 12:00 AM
 
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Almost forgot... excellent post/insights Bleu!

Em 43 - Wife to hubby Mom to DS born: Jan. '01
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Old 05-25-2004, 11:28 AM
 
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I forgot to mention....my mother did the "you are overthinking this" stuff before baby was born. In fact, she even sat down and had a talk with my father about her concerns (they have been divorced for ages, and she doesn't speak to him unless it's a "serious" parenting issue, lol). She thought all this stuff about cosleeping, exclusive BFing etc was "setting us up for a reality shock", or something silly like that. She also used to tease the heck out of me for getting alot of info online (here at MDC). She thought the idea of the discussion board was silly, etc. (getting advice from strangers!). And had this idea that the Internet is full of useless and questionable information (well, it is, but there is also alot of good stuff).

Well, just the other day I was mentioning a thread here on MDC, and she said how she never had any such support system. She had told me not long ago how isolated and alone she was as an essentially single mother, with few friends in this country and no role models whatsoever. She said it was a very lonely time. She thinks it's so great that I have LLL and AP groups, and even MDC.

It amazed me that she turned around like that. But as others here have pointed out, our parents can surprise us!

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Old 05-25-2004, 01:02 PM
 
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kerc - thank you. I've read so much stuff over the years that I couldn't remember where I'd gotten that from I don't necessarily agree with that book all together, but the fourth trimester stuff made a heck of a lot of sense to me.
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Old 05-25-2004, 05:26 PM
 
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Shell, congratulations on your pregnancy, and I think it's great that you are having this dialogue with your parents. I've had many of the same conversations with my mom who was a total Spock devotee (although she breastfed me - in Nebraska! - in 1965). Just keep in mind that this is going to be an ongoing dialogue. My mom supports what I'm doing, but can't resist telling me sometimes how much happier I'd be if I could just get that kid out of my bed. I don't mind it. "Do you hear me complaining about him in my bed?" has always been the best response.

I did want to address one thing in your OP though. Please, for the sake of your sanity and self-esteem, do not make the mistake of assuming that AP-raised kids won't throw tantrums. Now, maybe yours won't - I hope so! But every AP parent I know has tantrum-throwing kids, me included. Age three is age three, no matter which way you slice it. You are probably quite right about your stepkids being so great due to AP parenting, but you're also probably seeing the result now of how those tantrums were addressed back then. best wishes to you
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Old 05-25-2004, 06:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is like my very own personal therapy session! I love it!

I would be remiss to not mention that when my dh bought me my first issue of Mothering Magazine over 2 years ago (he is quite a guy, that husband of mine), I felt like it was a huge homecoming. I had found my tribe! (It is sort of how I felt when I "discovered" the Grateful Dead back in college! ). I am SO grateful for this extended support network. Without it, I have no doubt that I would be quite stressed trying to defend my beliefs against those of our mainstream culture. I have struggled with that in other avenues of my life, as I am sure we all have. Meanwhile, I no longer feel a need to defend my choices out loud. Well, except to my mother... But seriously, it makes such a difference knowing that there are other folks out there who approach childbirth and parenting from a "natural" perspective. When others doubt my ways, I can just shrug it off. It is also great to see that many AP ways are becoming more mainstream.

On a related topic... my mother has subtly (ha!) asked about the credentials of my OB/GYN. Of course, I don't have one, but there is one affiliated with my midwife group practice -- so I have taken the liberty of saying that she is my doctor. I realized where the conversation was going, and quickly thwarted my plans to tell mom about the freestanding birthing center where we are planning to have the baby. I have pretty much been telling white lies ever since about where we are giving birth. It's not that much of a lie, in that having our birth in the hospital is an option. The other day she expressed how glad she was at our choices, because she had been concerned that I was going to try something "alternative."

So, two nights ago I had a terrible dream that I was at the birthing center in labor, and my mom was frantically calling the hospital to see what room I was in and to check on my progress. Of course, I wasn't there, so she went into a panic. I hate lying to my mother, but I must admit, it is the smartest thing I've done in years! The alternative would be much worse!!! I know several of you will say I should tell her the truth, but you don't know my mother! I will hear about this terrible decision every day for the next five months. My brother has been telling her white lies for years, and has always chastised me for being so honest - and stupid! My interest in "changing her" has caused me more grief than good over the years.

The only way I can keep this up is because she said that she doesn't want to fly in for the birth, but immediately after. Of course, she also thinks I will have a two day hospital stay and then hire a baby nurse for two weeks (ha!). She is really into this baby nurse thing! Oy. I am trying to find a post partum doula, which works for me, but my mom doesn't think its enough.

So now I am hoping that I can "train" her to call my dh on his cell phone when the big day comes, rather than try to call the hospital. Or, we could just not tell her when we go into labor... but unless I am early, that will be hard. I am sure she will be calling all the time. This whole lying thing is causing me some stress, hence the dreams.


Thanks everyone for such an interesting dialogue. I am really enjoying this too, and am getting a lot out of it.
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Old 05-26-2004, 02:38 AM
 
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Hey, thank you to Piglet and Embee and anyone else who enjoyed my post. It's nice to be read well! I am loving this thread, and everyone's thoughtful posts are really speaking to me and to things I've been chewing on myself.

Another element (that I can't believe I didn't mention when I was posting earlier) that affected the Dr. Spock generation of moms: sexism, most specifically in the division of household labor. Nearly every woman I know of that generation had the entire responsibility of raising all the children and taking care of the whole house without any meaningful contribution from her husband. The dads contributed little more (in terms of child-rearing) than a non-resident grandparent. It seems as if the mainstream expected level of housekeeping was much less flexible than it is today. Of course these women were hands-off with their children -- you can't iron while bf'ing!

Shell, I can't get into your mother issues right now because it's tripping me out too much with my mother issues! Good luck, though and thank you for starting this great thread!
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Old 05-26-2004, 05:27 PM
 
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Uh...just to emphasize even more the difference in domestic responsibilities between then and now...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bleu
...you can't iron while bf'ing!
What's ironing?

:LOL

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Old 05-28-2004, 09:28 PM
 
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tracy- what a beautiful quote --"I haven't got anything more important to do than hold this baby." It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with your mother. No surprise after a quote like that.

Now (deep sigh) -- what a timely discussion this is for me. After several years I am coming to realize that the AP-based way my husband and I raise our daughter has been very threatening to certain women in his family, especially my MIL. I don't care what they think about our choices, but the awful result is that they go to lengths to overpraise the other grandchildren in the family (their attractiveness, lovability, intelligence) while ignoring our child. This is very painful and I am at a point where I can't even be around them. Especially painful because I wholeheartedly gave a lot of love to the other grandchildren in the family over the years. Worse, my MIL is the only grandparent my child has.

It is a fascinating issue to contemplate --primal, I think. I feel like the women in the family have bonded against me because they share a much more authoritarian, aggrieved style of parenting. Ironically, the more outgoing and loving my daughter is, the more they ignore her!

I know at the core of all of this are their own insecurities and regrets and that's not going away anytime soon. The best insight came from my brother, who is single and childless, but teaches elementary school. He has cheered us on many times for raising our daughter to have a sense of personal power and said that is probably the thing most children lack: a sense of power in their lives. Not an egocentric power relative to others, but power that allows them to navigate the world with honesty and strength. He believes that when people don't have this in their own childhood, they subvert a lot of primal frustrations over the years (as attested to in some of these posts), and as adults can be the most reactive when they see a child being raised that way.

AP is empowering. I know we're doing the right thing for our child, but I realize now close family is not necessarily going to cheer you on and may in fact have the sharpest sword of all. You just have to focus on your child and say, 'this is my family' and do what is right for you.

I envy those of you who have your mothers to even discuss this with tho. The hardest part of all of this is knowing how much my own mother, who died 10 years ago, would have loved my daughter, even if she would have balked at our EBF and shared baths...!
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Old 05-28-2004, 09:38 PM
 
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My sister and I were raised by the Dr Spock book- I think it was the only book my poor/student parents bought! In their minds, he was the authority and they wanted to be good parents and did not know how so they ( like the multitude of What to Expect parents) used a book rather than instinct as their guide.
But YES, Dr Spock has evolved and grown these years too, here are some examples
"In his world-famous book Baby and Child Care, Dr. Benjamin Spock (now writes), "I no longer recommend dairy products. … The essential fats that are needed for brain development are found in vegetable oils. Milk is very low in these essential fats and high in the saturated fats that encourage artery blockage and weight problems as children grow."
and
"Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do" and
"(Parents) had been told that picking up infants when they cried would only spoil them; Spock countered that cuddling babies and bestowing affection on children would only make them happier and more secure. Instead of adhering to strict, one-size-fits-all dictates on everything from discipline to toilet training, Spock urged parents to be flexible and see their children as individuals."
Just some thoughts. I personally have read his books ( as a cbe) but personally used Sears ( whom is also flawed).
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Old 05-30-2004, 07:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frand
tracy- what a beautiful quote --"I haven't got anything more important to do than hold this baby." It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with your mother. No surprise after a quote like that.
*************
I envy those of you who have your mothers to even discuss this with tho. The hardest part of all of this is knowing how much my own mother, who died 10 years ago, would have loved my daughter, even if she would have balked at our EBF and shared baths...!
Frand,
Your post brings me to
Yeah, you're right, me and mom are probably best friends at this point. She sometimes observes things I do and says "I wish I had done that with you" but I remind her that she did the best she knew how and that's all anybody can do.
I wish for you an extended AP family.
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Old 05-30-2004, 10:56 PM
 
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Indeed, Piglet! What is ironing?! I haven't the faintest... plop it in the dryer or wear it wrinkled. Those are the choices at our house!

This really is an excellent and supportive conversation about the things we face having made "uncommon" decisions in parenting. And even though my confidence remains in tact, it still feels good to read others concerns and insights. Thanks Shell.

Em 43 - Wife to hubby Mom to DS born: Jan. '01
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Old 09-28-2004, 12:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, ladies, it's me again. I'm getting close. Less than six weeks from my due date. My folks flew in for a long weekend and left this morning. They came to see me with a big belly, and to "help" get ready for the big event.

It was a terrible weekend.

After oohing and ahhing over my belly, things quickly went downhill. My mom heard through the grapevine that I am planning on using cloth diapering, and she had no qualms telling me what a terrible and stupid decision that is. Her response was basically, "Puh-lease. Give me a break." She said that I was endangering my baby because she would have more episodes of diaper rash than those great new disposables that wick away the moisture from the surface. If she finds out that the baby has rashes, she will have to speak up because she "won't let me endanger her granddaughter." But she figures I will give up on it anyway, and I will just have to figure it out for myself. Then she and my dad would condescendingly joke about me ("environmentalist") as though I wasn't sitting in the room with them.

That same scenario repeated itself over and over again over the course of the weekend. Whether it was the steely glances she and my dad exchanged when I told them I wasn't getting a crib (at least not until we thought we needed one), or when she dropped hints that "some people cut their hair when they have a baby." My hair is very long, and she thinks it is unflattering and childish. She is always trying to get me to cut my hair. Not happening.

But that wasn't what made the weekend so stressful. What was so upsetting to me is her penchant for being so incredibly negative about the motherhood experience. To her, it is adult vs. child. The child keeps the mother from having her own life. She made the same jokes over and over about the baby "getting you back for what you did to me" and how the baby is going to take over my life. Finally I just had enough and I asked her to please stop being so negative. To consider that I want to devote myself to the baby. That I don't consider parenting a burden, but a joy. Of course, this made her get all defensive. She said, "didn't I raise three great kids? I had lots of friends that completely gave themselves over to their kids, and most of their kids are screwed up. But I wouldn't allow my kids to take over my life, and the three of you are all very well adjusted." We were both on edge the entire weekend, both of us feeling that we just couldn't say the right thing.

Maybe the fact that I have hardly slept in a week had something to do with it. My fuse was very short, and I feel overwhelmed with the end of my pregancy and getting ready for this big lifechanging event. I SO DESPERATELY want her to say to me, "motherhood is the best experience ever. You are going to be a great and loving mom. I am so happy for you." But that is just not my mom.

Furthermore, they just weren't much of a help. I felt I had to wait on them for most of their visit, and they couldn't appreciate the sheer level of exhaustion that my dh and I are feeling (there are other things going on in our life that have caused us to be exhausted). It made us both realize that maybe she shouldn't plan on an extended stay when the baby is born. It makes me so sad, and scared, because dh and I have no family or close friends in the area. We hired a post partum doula for 36 hours over two weeks, but that's not much. I have seen so many girlfriends be totally pampered by their moms, and I feel like I am in mourning for the mother I never had.

Ironically, my mom and I are close in our own way, and I do know that she loves me. She just cannot express it. To show her emotion is to show weakness. It is a control thing.

I'm exhausted and need to go to sleep. It was a really upsetting weekend. We were hardly talking when she left. This is not what I had envisioned. Fortunately, my husband and I are strong in our convictions, and we will raise our children in the way that we want to.

But it would just be so nice to have my mom's approval. And that I shall never have.

BTW, I realized in all this that I gave her the Dr. Sears book to read way too early. She read it in July, and she has completely forgotten it by now. Oh well. What else is new...
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Old 09-28-2004, 02:12 AM
 
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That sounds really demoralizing.

Oye Yemaya oloto
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Old 09-28-2004, 12:04 PM
 
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twenty years from now our daughters will trash our parenting styles and have a book we should read instead of Sears...lol
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Old 09-28-2004, 12:30 PM
 
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Aw, Shell! I'm sorry it didn't go well.

I went back and read the thread through from the beginning. I think you should print the whole thing and write your mom, enclose the thread, and say "THIS is how I feel. I love you and I want you to support my choices even when you don't agree with them. I respect your parenting choices but please understand that I will not do everything the same way you did. I'm sorry you seem to feel so negative about being my parent when I was small and I hope you get more joy out of your grandchild."

Or some such thing. She probably needs to hear that you love her; it's too bad she's equating that love with emulation.

Another
Best of luck with your impending birth!
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Old 09-28-2004, 07:06 PM
 
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I just read this whole thread for the first time...
It is strangely like therapy...
Shell..you need to know in no uncertain terms...
Motherhood IS the best experience you could ever have! And you ARE going to be a great and loving mom!
I'm so sorry you can't hear this from you mom...that's really sad.
My baby's first birthday is tomorrow, so I've been doing a lot of thinking this week about the first months he was here. And I don't think an extended stay with your mom will probably be a good thing. (just my opinion...others might disagree).
For the first 6 weeks or so that I was a mom, I didn't want anyone in my house but me, my husband, and the baby. I got annoyed when friends would stop by. I just wanted to lock the door, turn off the phone, and bond with the baby.
I was deeply tapping into some primitive, mommy auto-pilot , almost psychic relationship with the baby thing. The first time I sang the baby a lullaby it was like I felt instantly connected to every mother to have ever lived over the course of humanity...the whole experience of bfing was mystic and magical. And having other people around in those early weeks sort of...well, spoiled the vibe.
I also went through the whole "mourning over the mother I never had even though I have a mom and she's not that bad" thing.
Now, at the end of the first year, I think I finally have a little acceptance with that...
(lol...or maybe my horomones are finally normal again...)
Anyway...good luck and congratulations!
Kepp us updated...
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