A version of this essay was originally published by Kveller on August 4, 2016.
I’d known what I’d call my future daughter since I was a teenager.
But things got tricky with my son. I hoped to parcel out his Russian-American-Jewish heritage into one word, ensuring it’s pronounceable by Russian relatives without making him a laughingstock of his American peers.
It’s Tuesday night and you are filled with dread. Tomorrow is mother’s group day, when 20 or more strangers with babies will gather at a suburban park or hospital rec room.
And as much as you crave the company of adults — particularly other new mothers to share your joys and frustrations — you can’t help but feel … well, awkward. On top of being hyper-conscious of your gargantuan t-shirt and the ponytail thrown together during your baby’s 6.5 minute-long nap, you’ve seen how unpredictable these gatherings can be. One could make a friend or witness a face-off between two exhausted moms over whose baby sleeps the longest or who’s hosted a larger play date – and why.
Ever wonder how your parenting stacks up in our world of benchmarks and parenting philosophies? Take this quiz to find out, picking one best answer for each question.
1.Baby transportation: Baby wearing or stroller?
a. Baby wearing forever! Or at least until he tells me he prefers to drive.
b. Stroller. My back hurts.
2.Manners: Your toddler said he hates you and threw goldfish crackers in your face. Your response:
a. Discuss why throwing and name-calling is wrong, suggest postponing anti-parent angst until he is a teenager. Work with your toddler to pick up the goldfish from the floor together. Name the goldfish. Find an appropriate container for storing the goldfish. No, not the green cup. Incentivize as needed.
b. Deal when you have the energy. Pick up the goldfish yourself and eat them.
I know, I know, there’s been a lot of news coverage of babies lately.
Like a guy running for president who kicked a woman out from a rally because her child cried. (Hey lady, not like he’d let you pump milk at work either, which he thinks is disgusting. But hope you stick with the nationwide “Mothers for Trump” club. Never heard of it? Yeah, me neither.)
Anyway, I’ll spare you from politics, gentle reader, and get right to the issue: the ridiculous division in our society into “moms and babies” and everyone else.
Okay, let’s get a few things straight. Party affiliations aside, it’s neat that a wife of a presumptive presidential nominee was born outside of the U.S. and in Communist nation, no less. Gives her a global perspective (baby carrots don’t grow this way, most of the world doesn’t have paper towels, kids walk to school alone and survive). Also, don’t hate her for being beautiful. And the accent? Big deal, I got one too, even though we both spent most of our lives in the U.S. as citizens, some with better purses and a personal chef.
My daughter’s daycare is closing. To a nonparent, this isn’t a big deal, but it’s reducing me to a puddle of tears because not only is breaking up with a daycare hard to do, but because finding a good one is even harder.
It shouldn’t be. I don’t need my kid to play with sustainably-produced wooden toys in primary colors. I don’t ban food that’s fried, breaded or out of a can or say things like “Now, honey, remember we eat alfalfa sprouts before enjoying this chia seed crisp for dinner.” Nothing like this note to the babysitter.