Thursday, 28 July 2016

the political language of having a baby

I don't know why this all annoys me so much, really I don't.

But it seems like every choice we make with Rose is a political one. 

Or at least, the language used to describe it has become political.

We carry her to nursery in a sling. I was carried in a sling. Babies have been carried in slings since, without exaggeration, the dawn of time. 

She likes it, we like it and unlike the pram, when she's in a sling, we can fit out the front gate.

Except now it's 'babywearing'. I am theoretically part of a movement. Hey - Rose has a pram too. We just do whatever is easier at the time. 

There are groups - genuinely, groups on Facebook, that send out notes on who they have spotted that day wearing a baby in a sling. "Mama at the shopping centre, baba in a woven wrap - was it you?!" Mentally high fiving each other about being so awesome. On the grounds that it's so good for the baby that you must be a good person for doing it, I guess?

It goes with all the other shit that was once just a thing you did with a baby, but is now a campaigning movement. 

'Co-sleeping'. She isn't in our bed, thank goodness, but she was in one of those cribs that attached to our bed for a while - which I refuse to call a co-sleeper. We did it because it was nice, and because it was easy. She never slept in our bed because I prefer to sleep without being kicked in the throat and she's always been wriggly. And when she was little, the idea of sleeping in the same bed freaked me out, she was so tiny.

Baby led weaning. Could not be arsed with this. But then Rose stopped letting us feed her with a spoon, and she couldn't do it herself. So she had finger food for a while. Now she lets us give her a spoon again and sometimes does it herself. 

But baby-led weaning? I mean, Rose let us know what she wanted to do? Rose-led weaning? We just went with it. But honestly - it is finger food. It's always been part of what kids ate - some kids preferred to eat that way, some are fine to be fed with a spoon. 

Cry it out? I felt terrible at leaving Rose to cry the other night after all else failed. It wasn't for long, and she went to sleep easily - and with next to no crying the next time we tried it, and none at all on attempt three. Still, I felt like a scumbag. 

I mentioned it to my mum. 

"Oh yeah, we had to do that with you two (me and my brother) a couple of times. It wasn't the nicest but sometimes you just have to." And then we talked about something else. Apparently as a kid I loved going to bed so much I tell my mum I was tired and take myself up of an evening.

Natural childbirth? Nice if you can. I mean, sounds lovely. But maybe 95+ per cent of the time this isn't actually a choice you get to make? If you have a baby that needs to come out pronto, surely 'healthy child and everyone alive' is the thing you want to be aiming for. 

VBAC. As above.

Cloth nappies. It does sound appealingly cheap. But... the poo...

Breastfeeding. Lovely if you can and want to. The government needs to support people more if it is going to insist that they do this, and they need to sort their shit out with diagnosing tongue tie. But if you don't do it? Well, most people aren't breastfed and it's clearly fine.

Water birth. 
Elimination communication (urgh, look it up)
Organic food

And on
And on
And on

Have we lost the markers in our life outside of parenting for what it means to be a good person? Do we think people will think better of us for breastfeeding, using a sling, serving our child organic food?

These things are personal choice, reframed as radical political acts, or as challenging new thinking. And sometimes, the people that do these things become confused about doing a good thing and being a good person, or better than other people.

Humanity is right now, not in a good place. Is it because we were fed puree? Weren't breastfed? I don't think so.

What does giving too much of a shit about all this mean? We have bigger issues; work, equal pay; inherent sexism - and outside of gender politics, there is serious news going on. 

Is it escapism? Is it easier to freak out about formula than engage in actual politics? 

It's a genuine question.  I don't know the answer. 

No comments:

Post a Comment