Tuesday, June 10, 2008

In the mother-hood

Apparently there is something in my town's water because pregnant women are popping up (or rather out) everywhere! On our little section of the street alone there are three of us pregnant due September, October/November, and December. And since another neighbor already has an 8-month-old and we already have Emerson, that will make 5 little ones by January. Heaven help us!

I feel so lucky to have such great neighbors and it's been nice to share pregnancy with close friends this time. (We were the first of our original group of friends to get pregnant the first time, so rather than comparing pregnancy symptoms, they just kept asking me what the heck I was thinking!)

But the other day us preggos got into a discussion about childcare issues and it came up that all of them are eventually either doing part-time or full-time work and putting their kids in daycare. I realized that once all the babies are here, I'll still be the only full-time stay at home mom on the street. Among my 11 "mommy" or "mommy-to-be" friends, only 4 are full-time stay at home, which is amazing when you think about the fact that only 30 years ago nearly every woman in my mother's generation stayed at home!

Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't want to go back to those days. I am so grateful for all the feminists who have worked for generations to give us the choices we enjoy today. And I certainly don't think one childcare arrangement is better than another. It just feels strange to be such an anachronism...and it's a little lonely.

I realize now more than ever how amazing the "baby posse" was when Emerson was first born. It was a group of us that met in our natural childbirth class and we all ended up having boys within a month or two of each other. Every week, no matter how hard it had been, I knew I could look forward to spending a Friday afternoon talking and eating with a group of friends while our little guys did their thing. We compared notes, eased each other's fears, vented about hardships, celebrated the accomplishments, and in general kept each other sane.

After a year, Michigan's economy forced three of the five of them to move to other states, and the other mother returned to work part-time. I still try to get together with her and other part-time working moms I know, but scheduling around naptimes is hard enough without work schedules, so our get-togethers are scattered at best.

There are a couple mom's groups in this area, but the wide age ranges and high number of participants makes it nearly impossible to carry on a meaningful conversation. Not to mention that they are based on a certain parenting theory which, even though I agree with, many of the parents view as dogma. I think parents are too judgmental of each other as it is, so I don't want to sit around and bitch about those "bad" parents who don't follow the parenting theory I espouse.

The importance of being around other moms really hit me last week when we got together with some friends who have a 14-month-old boy. (We don't get to see them much since they live so far away.)

I have to admit, we were SO excited to see them struggling to diaper their son as he writhed and wriggled. The mom confessed that she has been brought to tears of frustration by diaper changes - especially since little boys always try to grab for their poop-covered crotches and then proceed to wipe the mess all over their hair, floor, clothes, etc. I wanted to hug her I was so relieved to learn that I wasn't the only one struggling with this! I kept beating myself up over the fact that a simple diaper change turned into a nuclear disaster almost every day. I figured other parents had it down and there was something wrong with me!

Hopefully just being around my neighbors as all our babies grow together will help in the same way, even if we can't talk for hours on a Friday afternoon. And who knows - maybe another "baby posse" will take form someday? In the meantime, I take comfort in a little bit of trivia I learned recently:

There are times when I feel overwhelmed by the one child I do have, so I try to think about all the tribal women in National Geographic who sling babies on their backs as they work the fields, cook, clean and generally scrape out an existence for their families. If they can do it under those circumstances, what the hell is wrong with me?

Then our neighbors who study monkeys in Ethiopia mentioned that tribal women there not only have the benefits of help from the other mothers in the tribe, they also expect that a young woman will come and live with them to help take care of the children in exchange for room and board. So I guess even the toughest women need some help.

Maybe I should just move to Ethiopia!
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burgiboogie said...

There is nothing better than an honest mommy. It is so rare to really find a group with which you can really have fun together in a non judgmental way. After all, we are all knee deep in poop:)

damamma said...

Congratulations on your new pregnancy. I came across your website when I was looking for stories on other mother's to babies with albinism. I have an eigth month old baby girl with albinism. Emerson is just gorgeous.