Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

I was at a birthday party with my kid the other day. It was at one of those huge enclosed play-areas that smells like old cheese and armpit and where your kid peels off her socks and screams 'HURRAH!' before skittering off and kicking you to the curb for two hours. You're left to sit huddled on a gym bench with the other moms and you all chat and pretend to have more in common than the fact that your children were all born in the same year. Yay.

Actually, I like Lily's friends' moms. Most of them are really kind and friendly, though I'm still getting used to the southern culture of, oh, what do you call it again? oh yeah, manners. In comparison, my New York mom friends and I were disgustingly candid. We would sit on benches in the public parks of Queens, slurping coffee and bitching about everything from the inefficiency of our vibrators to our partners' bathroom habits.

The women I've met here are a bit more reserved. I don't think it's a bad thing; it's just not something I'm used to. I've had to be a little more careful in sharing all the wigged-out details of my life here. Hell, maybe that's an improvement. Perhaps it's even a sign of my own maturity. Imagine?

Here's an example. One mom, a native of Colombia married to a cajun guy (what?) was talking about how, while visiting family in Colombia this summer, her daughter learned all about sex while hanging out with older children. She started apologizing profusely to the other mothers in case her daughter 'told our kids about how babies were made'.

The other moms seemed genuinely troubled by this. One mom said, 'Weeeellll, I told my daughter that God takes a little bitta Mama and a little bitta Daddy and puts it in Mama's tummy. Then when the baby's ready, the doctor just cuts it out. I had a C-section, so I have a scar and everything.'

She was commended on this while I just clamped my fucking mouth shut. I was the mom who, when asked where babies came from, sat her 2 year old down in front of Dr. Google and looked at pictures of the human anatomy, explaining intercourse in primitive, scientific detail. I didn't pretend that menstrual blood was 'a cut in Mommy's hiney' (as one mother put it), and I nursed Lily until she was old enough to ask for it.
I'm not saying I hold the keys to good parenting (obviously, have you met my kid?), I'm just saying that I did things a little differently. I'm happy with the results, but I don't always remember that my methods of parenting might be considered a little bit...against the grain.

Especially considering that at 3, Lily was wedging babydolls up her dress and reenacting birth scenes with her friends (several times I walked into her room to see her on her back with a stuffed dog between her legs, screaming, 'ARRRGHHH!', while her pal Lucas, ever the relegated to role of 'Dad', yelled, 'Push! Push! I can see the head!').

Lily nursed her babies and stuffed animals and carried them in makeshift 'slings' I fashioned out of ripped up sheets. She was like a baby earthmama, and I didn't see anything wrong with it.

I still don't, but I am realizing more and more that there are a variety of ways to raise kids, and my way isn't the only way. Hell, maybe it isn't even the right way, but it seems to have worked so far. If anything, I'm becoming more open-minded living in Louisiana. Maybe even more than I ever was in New York. I think that's kid of kick ass.