I Digress

I’m struggling with what to actually do with this blog. I want to do some more writing and I thought I would have a lot of parenting stuff to write about (to go with my WAHM title), but so far I’ve found that either I’m not interested enough to sit down and write about “mom” stuff after doing it all day and/or a little too nervous to start an editorial/opinion blog. No one has asked me my opinion on the things I’m thinking about fleshing out in writing, so maybe I’m better off just keeping those thoughts to myself. Then again, it seems that there are plenty of folks out there who like giving me and anyone else who will listen their unsolicited advice. Maybe I’m just a little late to the fray, eh?

Actually, that turns out to be a pretty good lead in to one thing on my mind. I’m really noticing that there seems to be a a lot more people than I realized who are not satisfied until they have changed my opinion to their own. I’m not necessarily talking about actual friends and acquaintances of mine, either, just a general thing going on out there – in the articles and blogs that I read, to the “news” shows on TV, to magazines that I subscribe to, etc. Apparently, unless my opinion is yours, we are at an impasse and/or you think you are smarter than me.

What’s is that all about? Why is it so important to others that my opinion be EXACTLY like theirs? I get that people like to have connection and finding out someone has the same opinion as you on an issue is great validation. But, I have plenty of friends and family that I respect and care about just the same, even though our opinions may not always mesh. What’s up with the people who feel so strongly that my opinion must change to theirs during the course of our conversation? Can’t we all get along just as we are? In the words of my husband’s favorite band, people are people so why should it be you and I should get along so awfully if I don’t agree with you even a little or at all?

What I’m talking about here is the stuff that comes up between friends or people you’ve just met, your husband’s boss at the Christmas party, the local news, major newspapers, what have you. Take the news, for example. I mean, what ever happened to UNBIASED journalism and documentaries – the very definition of which is the presentation of facts objectively. At least with Michael Moore or Sean Hannity you know what you are getting into. No preconceived unbiased-ness there. Not like when Halloween comes around and articles in my Parenting magazine talk about the need to “go green” for Halloween and not give out candy. I mean, come on! It’s all fine and dandy not to give out candy, but don’t push that far left green stuff on me, dog. The entire magazine that month had a thousand articles about “going green.” Must you make me feel guilty at Halloween. Is that necessary, really?

Okay, so there is one example of what can lead to the type of conversations I’m talking about. The obvious topics are politics and religion. I know I’m not the only one who will often avoid conversations on these two topics like the plague, even risk coming off as not having an opinion at all, or (gasp!) pretend to agree with your opinion if I think the conversation won’t have time to get too deep, especially if it means we can all just get on with the party and enjoy ourselves. You know what I’m talking about. Since when is it socially acceptable to make everyone at the table uncomfortable because you want to argue with whoever is sitting across from you over politics?

But, I digress, because it’s really the subtle stuff I’m talking about – like parenting choices or recycling, for example. And here is where I can take this post back to having some WAHM relevance, because it was getting pregnant and becoming a FTM (first time mom) that brought these little “hot button”(?!) topics to my attention. Not that I had never noticed that when people get passionate about an issue they can tend to try and force their opinion on everyone else. I expect it with those aforementioned big ticket issues. But since becoming a mom, I’ve been more than a little surprised at how often and how fired up women (moms and non-moms alike) can get with one another about things that had never hit my radar before. In Mom World, if you are trying to get out there and make friends with the other moms and have a playdate with their kids, the topics of breastfeeding and disposable diapers are analogous to politics and religion. Stay away from these discussions at all cost, especially if you are on the unpopular side of the argument. If you can’t stay away from the discussion, you may want to tread gently until you know what side of the issue they are on. Then, adjust accordingly.

Actually, I’m pretty lucky in that I have a number of great girlfriends on both coasts who’ve became FTMs about the same time I did and even if I know we don’t necessarily agree on every parenting “issue”, I feel very comfortable discussing the issues with each and everyone of them. That said, I think most of us have come across another mom or dad or whoever, that has somehow implied that we were on the wrong end of one issue or another. I’m pretty much on the “wrong” end of every mom issue. Canned baby food vs. make your own: I make . . . a trip to the store for the canned stuff. Gerber is my friend, my really expensive, but very convenient friend. Breastfeed or Bust (pun intended) vs. formula fed: I was a formula fed baby (except for two months) as was my husband and brother and a number of others I know who all turned out just fine. Did I nurse Clara? TSYBB (That’s Something You’d Better Believe) but did I also formula feed her when we went out to restaurants or if I wanted to get out of the house for a bit? That’s a big 10-4, buddy. Vaccinations vs. Non-vaccinated: Are you kidding me with that?! Vaccinations, of course! Cloth diapers vs. disposable? Can you guess? Ya, you betcha, the Diaper Champ has a special place in my heart. To paraphrase one blogger in the “momosphere”, I’ll be the master of my garbage can, thank you very much! And if that means filling it full of disposable diapers, so be it.

And, while we are on the subject, if I don’t really feel like washing out the mayonnaise jar so it can go in the recycle bin but instead toss it casually out with the garbage, I refuse to feel guilty about that any longer. I do my share of recycling, of water conservation, of not wasting leftovers and all of that other stuff. My recycle and yard waste bins overflow by the time they are scheduled to be picked up every other week. Again, I digress . . .

I have researched my positions on all the above mentioned mom issues and have found plenty of validation in my decisions (here, here, here and here). And if you disagree with me on any of them, and this is the kicker, THAT IS A-OK WITH ME. You are perfectly entitled to be on the opposite side of those issues as I am. I actually do not mind one bit. It truly doesn’t bother me. I don’t think about it at night. In fact, I won’t even be thinking about it at all after I finish this blog post. What I think about is why does it bother YOU that I have a different opinion. (By the way, I hope you know I’m not talking about you, specifically, dear reader (unless the shoe fits – ha!), I’m talking the collective, plural “you” or whatever.)

What I’m asking is can’t we still find common ground if you want to vote for Barack and I am going to “throw my vote away” writing in Ron Paul ? Are we good if you go to church every Sunday and me, not so much? Fine by me if you fill up your garbage can with everything that can qualify as garbage so long as it doesn’t bother you that I keep food scraps under the sink until I can take them out with the yard waste, recycle the basics (unless it’s more effort than it’s worth) but have no problem with the fact that allegedly 50% of my household waste is made up of the disposable diapers we use for Clara. Are you cool with the fact that the chances of you changing my mind on any of these issues is slim to none, not because I won’t listen to what you have to say but because, chances are, you are not going to tell me anything I haven’t already considered? Because if you are going to get all fired up when I don’t agree with you on these things and try to put me down a little, make me feel stupid or like I don’t know what I’m talking about, especially in front of a group, well, I ain’t having that, see. That’s just NOT how I roll.

One thing being a mom has done for me is to really start making me define, for myself, exactly what my “life philosophies” are. When it comes to parenting, I’d say I’m practical. Pretty much, I take most situations and think about how my own parents and grandmothers raised their children in the poor, rural South. WWMGD? (What Would My Grandmothers Do?) I guarantee my mom wasn’t being driven all over “God’s creation” to music class and soccer practice and being otherwise constantly entertained. (And she didn’t raise us that way either.) Nor was she wearing the latest in name brand fashions at the age of two (or ever) and given the “hottest” toy on the market at Christmas time every year. That’s not to say that I’m not going to have Clara involved in some activities, like music and soccer, or that she will never be taken shopping or that she doesn’t already have WAY more toys that she needs, but I’m perfectly willing to close her off in her room for an hour or so with no television or friends or constant interaction from me. I have gotten a look a couple times now when I’ve mentioned that when I put Clara down for a nap and she doesn’t want to sleep that I just leave her in her crib for the two hours she should be sleeping. She’s not crying. She ain’t unhappy in there. She’s perfectly content, although she should be sleeping, to just be by herself playing her made up baby games or ripping pages out of the books I can’t seem to keep far enough out of her reach.

And I don’t want to get into a detailed political rant (though I certainly could), but I’m recently able to define my political philosophy better than I ever have in the past:

Don’t tell me how to spend my money and don’t tell me what to do.

I heard someone say this recently and I felt that it described my feelings pretty perfectly. I prefer to keep my money and make the decisions about where it gets spent. I think I’m better qualified to do so than the Federal government. At the very least, let’s keep it in our local and state governments who know what issues affect us right on our doorstep. Don’t tell me that I can’t have an abortion. I’ll decide that. Don’t tell me I can’t own a gun. I’ll decide that. Don’t tell me I have to recycle. I’ll decide that too. Agree with it or not, it’s simple. I’m pretty sure life philosophies should be simple little truths. You know, like, Confucius’ pearls of wisdom:

What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.

We take greater pains to persuade others that we are happy than in endeavoring to think so ourselves.

Yep, my truths and your truths; they may not be the same. That’s okay by me. Is it okay by you?

***

Hmmm. I started off this post thinking I had nothing to say. I guess I showed me, huh?! It was liberating to write with no worries as to who I might offend! But, now, of course, I’m worried that I might have hurt your feelings and I should go back and take some of it out, water it down a bit, just so there’s no hard feelings. There is a time that I would have done that. But, that time has passed . . .

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