guilt


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Buddha is an incredibly verbal child. He especially loves to sing. Not a waking hour goes by that he does not spontaneously burst into song. It’s one of my favorite things about him; his unabashed merriness. As far as widely recognizable words, though, he’s largely uninterested in those. Since his first birthday, however, he’s been making considerable progress in the area of communication.

Agua – “Oooah”
All Done – “Gah Gah” + sign
Baby – “Beh beeh”
Ball – “Baah”
Book “Buh”
Bunny – “Eeeoh”
Bye bye – “Buh bah” + wave
Car – “Cgah”
Daddy – “Dah dah”
More – sign
Shoe – Ssssh
Star – sign

So far he can say/sign half a dozen words, which just absolutely thrills me to no end.
You’ll notice, however, that neither “mama” or “turtle” are on that list of words he knows. This has perplexed me for quite some time since he’s been saying ‘Dah Dah’ now for about six months and has recently (within the last two months) begun referring to Bunny as ‘Eeeoh’. I found it to be rather odd that he wouldn’t even attempt to refer to either of us, ever.
Winifred, of course, is bent on teaching him to say ‘Mama.’ She refers to herself in third person when talking to him and repeats the sounds ‘mamamamama’ with him over and over again. Well, I, obviously, have been trying to get him to call me by my name. And recently this past week he began saying, but only with a lot of prodding, the first consonant in my name when referring to me. This was supremely exciting for me and I’m not ashamed to say, really the highlight of my entire month.

Except today he called me “Maahm” and then “Maah”

Twice.
Completely out of the blue and both times specifically reaching his arms out towards me so there really was no doubt as to whom he was referring to.
Thankfully, Winifred wasn’t home when this happened but it kind of unsettled me anyway. When she did get home, I specifically exclaimed “Look! It’s mom! Mama’s home!” in hopes that he would get the queue and use his brand new word on the correct recipient.

No such luck.

The thing is, I have made zero attempt to refer to myself as mom and in fact, have been somewhat overly zealous in trying to get him to say the real world equivalent of ‘Tortuguita’. I don’t really understand why or how he has suddenly decided to use the word on me, instead of Winifred.

The real problem is that part of me feels strangely pleased, as though, in his own Buddha way, he’s acknowledged my importance to him and has validated my role in his life.

Except the moment I’m done thinking this, that stupid, obnoxious voice that always interrupts the protagonists in cheesy movies kicks in and condescendingly exclaims –

“That is way creepy. As in totally ‘Hand that Rocks the Cradle‘ kind of creepy.” And I immediately feel incredibly evil but defend myself anyway with.

“No! I just love him, that’s all.”

“Right.”

“And besides, I spend just as many waking hours, if not more, with him than she does.”

“Creeper.”

“So why wouldn’t he think of me as his mother?”

“Yeah, okay, Peyton.”

“Shut up, that is so different. I’m not trying to sleep with Dr. Doormat or destroy Winifred out of revenge.”

“Maybe not but you wouldn’t exactly don a black veil if she croaked.”

“Just because I don’t like her very much doesn’t mean I want her to die so I can raise her kids.”

“Whatever you say, oh wicked one.”

“Go to hell.”

“After you, Empress of Evil.”

“Go away.”

“Sure thing, Corrupt Caretaker.”

“Stop.”

“Execrable employee.”

“Oh brother.”

“Sick Sinful Sitter.”

“Cut it out.”

“Malicious Mentor.”

*sigh*

“Baneful Babysitter.”

“Are you done yet?”

“One more. Nasty Nefarious Nanny.”

At which point I realize that despite her nauseating synonym savviness, my incredibly irksome alter ego has a bit of a point and I am left feeling altogether very unpleasant because not only is there a good possibility I am evil but I’m probably a little crazy too.

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Even though we don’t particularly look alike, Buddha and I both have dark hair and similarly shaped eyes and mouths and there have been many occasions when we’ve been out that people have just assumed I’m his mother. This secretly thrills me as I would like nothing more than have him be mine. But I always feel incredibly guilty, as though not correcting people’s assumptions is a gross misrepresentation akin to plagiarism. Along with the guilt comes this sense of malayise, something that probably resembles what a kidnapper must feel like whenever they take their victim’s out in public; terror and uncertainty and underneath the abrasive fear, a tiny thrill. Sometimes it’s just easier to let people assume he’s mine rather than to try and explain ourselves but other times I just like to bask in the feeling of joyful pride that comes with being his parent and hearing how absolutely beautiful and charming he is.

What do you bloggers think about the ethics of this? I ask only because I have a rather warped sense of morality. One which allowed me to commit a certain specific but unmentionable felony crime without feeling the least bit of remorse but which also prevents me from ever littering.

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Breastfeeding is a hot topic these days. I’ve especially become aware, just recently, of how prevalent it is in the blogging world. A discussion on Blogging Baby regarding the recent UK study which indicates that there is a correlation between epidurals and lowered breastfeeding rates, really got me thinking. It especially brought to light something that really bugs the hell out of me: the indignant refusal to take responsibility for one’s decisions. The findings in the study basically indicated that babies whose mothers received epidurals were less likely to breastfeed. This was pretty much *duh* information for me but apparently it’s not for many people. In fact, it’s caused quite a bit of an uproar. I don’t really understand why. See, for me it’s pretty simple. When women agree to receive epidurals during labor they are agreeing to the injection of powerful drugs into their bodies as well as to those of their as-of-yet, unborn children. This is not a secret. That is the point of an epidural, afterall: drug induced numbness. Some of the most common side effects of Fentanyl, the active ingredient in most epidurals, is fatigue and drowsiness. Now, these are drugs that are powerful enough to numb and paralyze grown adults so why does it come as a big surprise that these strictly controlled narcotics would have a negative and/or sedating effect on an infant? It’s pretty damn obvious. So I gotta think there is a lot of misplaced denial going on. And the root of the problem is with the guilt. Parenting and motherhood especially, come with a lot of guilt as it is, so it’s really not a surprise that women don’t like to be confronted with their own shortcomings. But here’s the thing. Adulthood, and parenting as a result, are all about responsibility. It sucks, I know. Boy do I know. But I’ve seen this often, and especially regarding breastfeeding, that women are simply unwilling to take responsibility for their actions. See the way I see it – you make a decision and then you live with the reprecussions. Period. Choose an epidural and you choose to drug your child. Period. But know that that is the decision you are making. Don’t try to minimize your choice by arguing with science. Often times women, and especially mothers, are afflicted with a martyr complex. You know the one. The one where mothers put their children’s wants and needs far before their own. And, in fact, it can almost be a test as to how selfless a mother can be to the point that if and when they do put their own needs in front of their children’s they feel guilty about it. Case in point: epidurals. The fact is, that an epidural is not in the best interest of any child being born vaginally. It’s not a matter of speculation; that’s simply the way it is. An epidural is a comfort measure, soley for the sake of the mother. Choosing an epidural means putting your own comfort above the best interest of your child. The problem is that women can’t seem to admit that. But why not? That’s the truth. The problem I have is not in the epidurals themselves but in the women who refuse to admit that their decision is a purely selfish one. And really, what is so wrong with that? Sometimes being selfish is a good thing. Having never gone through childbirth, I can’t say I won’t ever get an epidural myself, but if I do choose one, I will do so knowing that what I’m doing it for my sake and my sake only. I will not try to justify that decision with pseudo-scientific delusions that my choice was without its risks. Similarly, if you choose not to breastfeed, fine. Really, fine. I’m all about female empowerment. Our bodies, our choices, afterall. But, by choosing not to breastfeed you are making the decision to deny your child adequate nutrition. Too blunt? Too bad. It’s not about demonizing formula or judging that decision. It’s about straight up medical facts. Breastmilk is not superior to formula. On the contrary, it is simply the adequate standard and it is formula that is inferior to breastmilk. Choose not to breastfeed? Fine. But own that decision. Own it. It is yours. There is nothing wrong with making your own choices. What I have a problem with is people making choices but not taking responsibility for the results that their choices influence. If you are going to formula feed because that is what is easier for you, then great. But don’t try and justify your decision by undermining the values of breastmilk or making excuses. Take your decision and own it for what it is. Admitting that you don’t always put your child’s needs 100% before your own isn’t the mark of a bad mother. But refusing to take ownership and responsibility for the ramifications of your decisions does make for a less than stellar adult.