Not to beat an old story to death, but my husband and I were planning on having one biological child, and then adopting after that. We found out that we were pregnant with twins about a week before our twins were born, and then six months later, we discovered that I was pregnant with our daughter. Against the advice of the urologist, my husband had his vasectomy done before she was born. We were blessedly living with my mother at the time, so even though she and my husband both worked full time, they worked opposite shifts, and I had some much needed help with my three children under three. It is all a blur today, and I am eternally grateful that I managed to keep all three of them healthy, and happy, and alive.
Consequently, I had far too much survival going on in each and every day of my life back then to put an ounce of effort into thinking about socializing, or play dates, or tracking down a mommy group. Facebook wasn’t really running with all of its glorified popularity yet either, so I wasn’t getting a bunch of unsolicited advice on how to raise my children via that inlet either. After chatting with one of my closest friends about it the other day, I have to honestly say thank fucking goodness that I did not have the time for any of that shit. I think that I would rather attempt to raise the babies all over again than put up with that sort of nightmare. Now, to be fair, I am much more of an introvert than most of the people that I know, and I have a horrible time politely swallowing information that I find in any way questionable. So it shouldn’t be difficult for anyone to imagine that put in a room with a bunch of other mothers and babies, I might literally be tempted to run away screaming.
My new favorite thing to tell my friends, if they have older kids, is to give other people their ages in months like the parents of little ones do. “Oh yes, Joelle is one hundred and thirty three-months old now, and we are so thrilled with her progress.” Gag me! I am picking fun here a little, and I do know what it is like to be a brand new mother, and to be scared to fucking death that I was doing absolutely everything wrong. I mean, when you become a parent, I believe that if your priorities are in the right place, it is pretty much the most important thing that you have done in your entire life. None of us want to screw it up, so we get a little paranoid. I think that these mommy groups are the wrong solution to that problem though. For someone of my personality, it would merely be really annoying to be in a room with a bunch of women who were trying to make themselves feel good about the growth of their own child by comparing statistics on their progress, but I think that for some mothers, it could be motivation to keep them in the pediatrician’s office about once a week.
Here’s the thing: absolutely every single kid is different, and beautiful, and special in his or her own way. I call bullshit on any doctor, or developmental guru who thinks that it is okay to define a particular month when a baby should be doing this or that. I know that within reason there actually are problems in development that should be addressed early, but I think that there are extremely few of them, and in a case where a problem does need to be addressed, any parent will be clearly able to see that something is not quite right. Ironically, my friends in mental health, even the ones who work with children, are the ones who will most readily back me up on this opinion. I have friends who have a two-year-old daughter, who was recently diagnosed with autism. Many of their friends, including my own husband, were blown away when they heard the news. The reason that everyone was so surprised is because this little girl is interactive, and has a beautiful bright smile, and rarely throws any sort of fit in public. She is a delightful kid, and I believe that it is because both of her parents are simply fully and strongly engaged with her. They interact with her constantly, and encourage her interaction with others. Many of the prescribed therapies that will be part of her treatment, are things that mom and dad have already been doing with her. She is going to be okay because she has really awesome, fully engaged, loving parents, and nothing, absolutely nothing, outside of that fact, is in any way near as important as it is.
I always look towards where the money is going when I see a trend happening. The first necessary element is finding a vulnerability to be exploited. Well, more and more people are having children a little later in life these days, and therefore they are better established and they have money to spend. I already explained about our fear of screwing up our poor kids for life, so that is where all of the doctors, and experts, and baby accessory makers scooted in and declared that as long as we buy all of their shit, our babies are going to be A-Okay. Come on! No, kid is going to turn into a serial killer because he didn’t have a six hundred dollar black and white patterned mobile! Kids just need to grow up, and explore, and be loved. Just love the crap out of them, exhaust yourself doing it, and your memories will be amazing, and your kids will be absolutely great. Don’t let anyone else tell you that what you know in your heart to be right for your own kids is wrong. Modern parents are being exploited, and I guarantee you that when it comes to your own children, you know better than anyone else in the world what is best for them. Screw the mommy group. Do it respectfully, they are being exploited too. Think how much more time you would have to enjoy your children if you weren’t trying to follow the stupid schedule or write everything down. Just love them; just do that, and it will be absolutely fine.