Thursday, October 10, 2013

Broad Spectrum Mothering

I just swept my kitchen table with the same broom I'd used moments before on the post-lunch bombed out floor under the swine's side of the table, and felt only the vaguest sense of shame washing over my subconscious in so doing.

Having spent the morning procuring various essential oils named after Olive Garden staple ingredients at our local Vitamin Cottage, I then trotted my two sick tots down to our NFP only, "vaccine whatever-you-say-goes, mom" family doctor where we waited half an hour to score some pink syrup in a BPA-full bottle. The good stuff. You know what I'm talking about.

Did I mention that while the boys were playing in the waiting room I gave them each a toxic plastic fire-engine shaped sippy cup to sip unfiltered tap water through? Or that I bought the pair of them used at Goodwill earlier this week.


Later on we ate organic cheese and gluten free quesadillas before I rubbed both their feet and chests down with Italian herb and cheese scented oils and sent them off for a long afternoon nap. And it occurred to me: I am all over the board with this motherhood gig.

I have friends who babywear exclusively for months and months and monthsandmonthsand...don't actually own strollers. Or don't use them, anyway. I also have friends who co-sleep, friends who work as doulas, friends who feed their kids Kirkland's best frozen pizzas without batting an eye, and friends who spank swiftly and surely.

Some of us are vaccine avoiders, others are FDA-approved compliers. Some like organic berries and buy the rest conventional, and others wouldn't set foot inside a Walmart if there was an Anthropologie giftcard dangling enticingly over the 'entrance' sign.

I don't know if this is a unique phenomenon to practicing religious mothers or not, but for my circle of friends, far-flung across the globe and across the income spectrum, it seems like our philosophies for life and parenting are more informed by the Catechism than by the cultural pulse on parenting trends.

I have been to a breastfeeding support meeting where a woman tearfully admitted to some abusive behavior on the part of her husband in front of the entire group of moms...and the discussion immediately honed in on his demand that she give the baby a formula bottle at bedtime. Um, what? I was wondering if I had somehow become high off my neighbor's patchouli essential oil body butter because doubleyou tee eff, this woman had just uttered a kind of cry for help and everyone weighed in on the audacity of her husband to suggest formula. Forest for the trees, huggers?

In Catholic parenting circles, at least the ones I float through, there doesn't seem to be this rabid need to 'define' one's parenting style patterned after some theory or school of thought or whatever...aside from natural law. And the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. So we don't use contraception, we don't abort inconvenient family members, and we don't discuss divorce as an option with our girlfrinds over cocktails. We also don't do much husband bashing, as Kaitlin thoughtfully observed in her post yesterday.

As far as the actual nuts and bolts of it all? Bring it on. It's so nice to be able to discuss this or that idea/behavioral theory/discipline strategy without someone shutting down or feeling personally attacked because you just questioned their belief system. And believe me; I've been to enough playgroups where Dr. Sears is a prophet, and chiropractic care versus Western pediatrics is the only responsible choice a loving mother would make for her child.


Pass the sugar-laden dum dum bribe sticks and the organic Vitamin D milk. We're all the hell over the place at our house, and figuring it out as we go. Thankfully, I can still meet my dairy free yoga-practicing friend for a trip to the mall, where we can discuss the proper dosing recommendations for garlic oil during ear infections along with J Crew's fall catalog, and nobody feels the slightest bit put out by anyone else's best practices on the home front. That's what I call freedom.


  1. Oh my goodness! Glad I'm not the only mother whose parenting spans the spectrum of parenting styles! Baby-wearing? Yes. Cry it out? Yes. Totally not in conflict, haha. We do what works for each kiddo and take the best of each philosophy!

  2. Amen, and AMEN! Couldn't agree with you more!!

  3. Yes Jenny! You said everything I was trying to get at. I realized I left something out of my post too. We don't talk badly about each other. If one mom is absent from the group, we don't all gossip about her while she's away.

  4. Formula is abusive? Yikes! Times are getting tough out there.

  5. I love it! I love that my "mom friends" and I have some differences... it keeps me thinking :).

  6. Awesome!

    And actually using the broom to sweep the table is kind of a great idea.

  7. DA- UUUUDE! I fall a bit all over the place, okay, that's a lie, I am the opposite of a tree hugger parent! BUT, one thing that drives me bonkers is when women in Catholic circles (maybe specifically FUS circles) over spirtualize (I think I made that word up) decisions that do not effect our eternal souls. Everything always has to be so dire, it drives me bonkers. And yes, I know 'objectively' there are better decisions than others, but the subjective nature REALLY matters when discussing parenting matters, so I laugh at the sweeping statements some mamas make!

    1. Ditto Mary, I was going to ask Jenny about whether she's met anyone like that. It's my personal pet peeve when women turn parenting choices into moral imperatives. Yes, beating and not feeding your kids is sinful, but c-sections? Formula? Circumcision? Come on now!

  8. Amen, sister!! Baby wearing - yes. Cry it out - yes. Homemade bread - yep. Junk food snacks - yep. Healthy dinner served up with a side of sugar-laden dessert - yep. Breast fed baby eating his first McDonald's French fry at age 6 months - yes and yes...!! We're all over the place here, too, but I figure every good choice I make is better than no good choices at all.

  9. Awesome article! I love your honesty--you say what I am thinking :)

  10. yes! a million times yes. I am all over the map and it's hard to find other people who are ok with me being ok with it!


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