Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Parent Without a Facebook Group

After my daughter was born I joined all the natural parenting groups I could find. I genuinely thought that's where I would fit in. I mean, of course I'm a natural parent, right? 

All the signs were there:

I had a homebirth with no drugs, no interventions, not even any cervical checks. 

I accept chiropractors and acupuncturists as medicine and not voodoo. My daughter had her first chiropractic adjustment at one month. Just because I don't know why it works doesn't mean it doesn't work, and hey, my insurance company is not going to pay for it if it isn't at least a little effective. 

My little one has slept in the bed with my husband and I every night since the night she was born. 

She does a version of "Jazz Hands" which we call "The Starfish"

I breastfeed the shit out of that kid. Seriously, she's almost two and she's actually nursing as we speak. She can nurse as long as she wants too. She likes it, it gives her nutrients.  It acts as a low-level narcotic for both pain reduction and sedation purposes. 

We have a time-in corner instead of a naughty step or time-out ottoman or whatever you call it. This is probably one of the crunchiest things about my husband and I. (If you don't know about time-ins I suggest you read this.) 

So, even though I use all these natural, gentle parenting techniques I found it almost impossible to get along with people in these "natural," "gentle," and "holistic" parenting groups. 

The major issues I came up against were these:

1. Vaccination- If I were a real natural parent I would never vaccinate my child. That shit does nothing but poison them. So what if my kid gives other kids measles? So what if my own kid dies of chicken pox? That's a small price to pay when we're talking about a global conspiracy to put CHEMICALS in my child's body. Besides, it doesn't even prevent diseases. Did you watch this Youtube video about it? It completely validates my opinions while providing no scientific evidence whatsoever. (That's how you know it's good.) /s

2. Gluten- This gluten hate is pretty pervasive. I mean, I've thought about making my daughter gluten-free more times than I'm proud of (once). My husband actually has a gluten allergy but that doesn't make me feel like this issue is any more real. In fact, I think it's shitty that people out there are foregoing delicious delicious gluten for no real reason. Most gluten-free propagandites remind me of this bit from This is the End.

3. Guns- I know right, what the hell? Who would have thought natural parents would be gun nuts? Well, I think a lot of the time it comes from living in bum fuck. People who make all their own (gluten-free?) multi-grain bread and maintain a goat ranch while unschooling their children often need their guns for bears, and meddling government workers. I'm one of those people who, when someone is trying to be moderate by saying "well, no one is talking about banning guns..." I stand up and say "Me. I am. Ban guns, yep, sounds great." Yeah, that doesn't really fly in "gentle" parenting groups. 

Of course I can't get in with mainstream parenting groups either. No crib? Breastfeeding a toddler? It shocks the mind! Not to mention I'm just flaunting my breastfeeding in everyone's face. My very existence as someone who breastfeeds and discusses the benefits of breastfeeding is insulting to many mainstream moms. Obviously it is a judgement on them. *Sigh*

I guess I'll just be here in my time-in corner vaccinating my children. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Homeschooling and Virginia's Religious Exemption Statute

The religious exemption, long a controversial issue among Virginia homeschooling families, has been brought to public attention this week with a major article in the Washington Post.

So what is the religious exemption exactly? It's just what it sounds like. 

In Virginia, like most states, there are rules that parents need to follow to keep their children out of public school. For a majority of homeschooling families, this means turning in a brief letter at the beginning of the year with a course outline, and then turning in the results of a home-proctored standardized test by August. These restrictions are simple and really very lenient, but there is still some accountability to at least teach your child to read and do basic math. The religious exemption, on the other hand, throws accountability out the window. 

To be clear, the religious exemption is not an aspect of or exemption from the homeschooling statute. Rather, it is an exemption from compulsory attendance. In effect, it is an exemption from teaching your children anything at all. 

Virginia’s Religious Exemption (§22.1-254 (B)(1)) reads,
A school board shall excuse from attendance at school: any pupil who, together with his parents, by reason of bona fide religious training or belief is conscientiously opposed to attendance at school. For purposes of this subdivision, “bona fide religious training or belief” does not include essentially political, sociological or philosophical views or a merely personal moral code.

So the problems with this law are obvious.  

1. Minors like Josh Powell and his siblings (mentioned in the article above) are growing up without the basic skills needed to work at McDonalds, much less attend college. The article specifically mentions that Powell's 11-year-old younger sibling cannot read. 

2. School boards are currently sanctioned to make decisions on whether an individual's beliefs are "bonafide religious" beliefs, or sociological ones. Talk about a slippery slope. A government agency should not be deciding the worth of one belief or belief system over another. Last time I checked "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" even in Virginia

3. There is no religious exemption from providing your child with food or clothing, so why is there an exemption from teaching them to read?

The arguably most nefarious aspect of the religious exemption is its origin. Many would assume that the law was created many years ago, perhaps to allow Amish or Quaker families to keep their children home from public school. This is not the case.

As noted in this 2006 article from the Fredericksburg Times the religious exemption came about as a result of the desegregation of schools. Many of Virginia's White families did not want their children attending school with Black children (heaven forbid!) so an exemption was written into law on April 18, 1959, which allowed anyone to keep their children out of school based on a "conscientious objection." About twenty years later in 1976 the religious aspect was added, bringing us the law as we have it today. 

For a time, in order to homeschool, a parent either needed to have a teacher's certification or be a so-called conscientious objector. This is no longer the case. The homeschool statute in Virginia is fair and reasonable, and does not require a parent to have even a high school diploma to teach their child at home. So why do we still have the religious exemption?

Bottom line: Virginia's religious exemption is an unconstitutional, out-dated law with racist origins. It is allowing children (mainly in rural southern Virginia) to go without even the barest element of education. This law needs to go. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Subjugated Majority

So I discovered something interesting on Google today. I stumbled upon it, I guess.

If you search for "formula is poison" on Google you will not find a single result of a lactivist saying this phrase. Instead, you will find result after result of just the opposite; women demonizing lactivists for insinuating such a thing.

I found that mildly interesting, though unsurprising. I also found it pretty shitty.

This is really an amazing example of the way the "boob wars" are fought. 80% of mothers don't breastfeed to 3 months, which makes formula-feeders the vast majority. A subjugated majority, or so many would have you believe.

It's hard to even mention breastfeeding without offending someone, bringing their shrieking wrath upon you for not "being sensitive" to the many women who "couldn't" breastfeed.

If I mention the idea that breastfeeding is often sabotaged by misinformation and shoddy medical advice I might as well be the devil himself.

"I was not MISINFORMED!" I am told by a woman who gave her child formula on doctor's orders after her milk didn't come in within hours of giving birth.

"How DARE you!" says a woman who thought she didn't make enough milk because her child was always at the breast.

"Its not that easy for everyone!"says a woman who knows even less about my breastfeeding history than I know of hers.

So I guess my question to women who are angry at lactivists, and breast-feeders in general is this: What do you want me to say?

Should I just not talk about this incredible bonding experience I have with my daughter everyday, several times a day because it makes you feel bad?

Should I pump at home (something many women can't do) so you don't have to see my baby eat?

Do you want me to just pretend that poor breastfeeding rates aren't a drain on our healthcare system, and a huge problem for society at large, to spare your feelings?

Should I just sit by and say nothing while doctors, hospitals, and formula companies continue to undermine women's abilities to naturally feed their babies? Will that make you feel better?

While we're on the subject of what I should do to make you feel better...

I understand that calling formula poison is right out. Cool. So, now what should I call it instead? What should I call something that, when ingested, causes the cells in someone's gut to die, and lowers their IQ, and increases their chances of having allergies, and increases their propensity to get sick? What would you call something like that? Hmm.

I think maybe we should call it Unicorn Blood.

"It keeps you alive...but only just."

That's much more "sensitive," right?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Social Pressure

So I heard that cloth diapering was really good.

I heard it was good for the environment, for my baby, and for my wallet.

I heard it was one of the best things I could do for my baby.

I heard it was the natural thing to do. Above all I heard it was the best possible of diapering.

So I bought some cloth diapers.

My family said, "good luck with that, it's too hard for me. You should keep disposibles on hand just in case."

My friends said, "Oh, I give you a month."

Strangers upon strangers told me, "I tried it and it was too hard," sarcastically adding, "good luck."

No one ever told me it was worth it. No one ever told me to stick it out for just a little longer, it would get easier. No one made me feel guilty for stopping, or tried to make me feel heroic for continuing.

It was hard. So I stopped.

Maybe I could have used some social pressure.

Formula feeding advocates tell women like me everyday that it is useless to put social pressure  on women about breastfeeding, but I respectfully disagree. I think that a little social pressure can be useful now and then, and maybe a little guilt can be a powerful thing.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Greatest Questions on Baby Center

For those of you who might not know, Babycenter is a website dedicated to telling you about the development of the average small human. Most women who have experienced pregnancy in the last ten years or so probably have used Babycenter's pregnancy tracking. This is where they tell you the size of your interior human based on a series of different pieces of produce. My own personal favorite was somewhere in the beginning of the third trimester when they absolutely gave up on coming up with novel fruit ideas and said that my fetus was the size of "four navel oranges." Four oranges? Really? How about we just continue to measure the child in grapes. This week it is 4 grapes, next week it is 10 grapes, by the end it is 200 grapes. Come on Babycenter, really?

But I digress. You see, Babycenter has a section of their site called 'Mom Answers.' This is essentially a forum where individual users can put forth a question about some aspect of parenting and other users will answer. I'm sure this can be a somewhat helpful tool, as the experiences of other moms are usually more helpful than the advice of their so-called experts. (I'd like to point out that at my tiny human's current stage they recommended an article for me on weaning. My eyebrows could not have gone higher on my forehead.)

Anyway, I find 'Mom Answers' to be the best part of the site for a completely different reason.

They tell you that there is no such thing as a stupid question. The elitist in me (which is a hefty percentage) must disagree.

With that in mind, I present to you the Greatest Questions on Baby Center (part 1?)

This series of questions revolve around the safety of doing certain things or using certain things during pregnancy. They can be easily divided into two categories.

 The first questions revolve around things which I had previously thought were clearly safe in any situation. Such as the following:

This category is overflowing with goodies. 
It honestly makes me a little concerned about the women that are asking these questions. Are they asking before they do literally everything? How very, very tiring. 

I think its too late for that.

The answer to this one was the greatest part. "Uh, isn't ice just frozen water?"

This one is just bizarrely specific.

Anyway, enough of that. For those of you who are thinking I'm being a bitch because these women had actual logical questions, god help you. I will point out that I did not include any of the hundreds of questions about whether safe was sex while pregnant because I consider this to be a very important question. 

Except this one. This one is hilarious. 

The answer. Oh, the answer.

On to category the second, which is exactly the opposite of the first category. Here you will find questions regarding things which are never, never safe. Such as:
See, the idea here is that even with the idea of pregnancy completely removed, the answer is, "no, that is decidedly not safe."
The answer to this one was funny too. "It's no worse than going on a roller coaster." (ha)


I don't know what that is, but it might actually be safer if you're not menstruating.

Not for your career. 

Now here are a couple more that don't fit into these categories but which I thought were funny anyway. 

Once again, the answer really makes that one.

This is such an existential question. 

Finally, here is the one that began it all. The absolutely, 100%, greatest question on Babycenter.

There are no words.