Two things I've been thinking about lately...
First, this article on Salon, from Babble contributor Madeline Holler. She discusses the birth of her third child, which she went through at home. But what she mostly focuses on is how she made her two young daughters be present during the late stages of labor and the delivery, despite the girls repeatedly, pleadingly, clearly, stating that they did not want to be there. She educated them about birth beforehand, which I think is fine and necessary, because it is true that birth is natural and part of life and what not. But after she gave them a choice and they told her no (four times), she simply ignored them, dismissed their answer and frightened feelings, and continued to believe that this would be "a great gift to them".
Should children witness births? I'm a bit on the fence with this one, but I guess in some cases it can totally be right and positive for families. But the child should be ready, and willing. Some children probably think nothing of it, or even really be into it. But I can also totally see how much of a traumatic experience it could be for a young child, how scary, and confusing, and deeply upsetting it could all seem. People know their own kids, and they should respect them in that. I got cold sweats reading about that little girl hiding in her room, sobbing, shaking, repeating that she didn't want to be there, horrified by her mom's pain, and saying that she was going to faint. Do you think she was ready and should have been there? I know I'm oversensitive and this can be perceived as totally melodramatic by people who simply don't have that gene - and of course it figures... But how could you think that this was no big deal or that they will come to appreciate it over time? It doesn't work that way. After witnessing how crazily traumatized LP got over a seemingly harmless, meaningless thing like a fire drill last year, I just don't think that some kids will, or should, simply "get over themselves".
Holler said that "she's not a Type-A Organizer" person, and that's why she didn't really made plans for the kids to go elsewhere. Hmm, hello? No plan is not an option, especially when the kids make it really clear they don't want to see that. I usually try to avoid being too snarky, but I couldn't help agreeing with some commenters there: don't say you were "surprised" by the birth, that you "didn't have time", and that's why they ended up there, then go on to say that you updated your Facebook status on more than one occasion. I mean, you were not surprised. This was your third child, you knew the drill, such plans are not that long or complicated to make -everyone does it. Even at the last minute, you could have called a neighbor, a friend, even an acquaintance to come fetch the girls, anyone. I mean, if I ever received a phone call to come and help like that, even in the middle of the night, and even from someone I didn't know that much, I would definitely step up. Because that's just what you do. I don't think that having a bad taste in my mouth after reading this makes me a "sanctimommy", just, you know, someone who has feelings and empathy.
Second, any of you have been watching the Sister Wives show on TLC? It's about a polygamist family in Utah, that promises to make you reconsider your initial ideas about them. And, it's true! I'm a little disconcerted ever since seeing it. My view on polygamy hasn't changed: I think there's something completely wrong and one-sided and unfair about it, because even though these women say they chose this lifestyle you just know the playing field is not level... But this family is a million miles away from the idea I had of fundamentalist Mormons, and how the way they live tends to perpetrate the women's submission and acceptance of the marriage: isolated from society, receiving minimal education and contact with the outside world, wearing old-fashioned clothes and living very simply, etc. But this was definitely a modern family: with one wife teasingly telling her husband to "shut up," the guy working in ad sales and driving a shiny Lexus, one of the teenagers (totally goth princess) being allowed to express her disapproval of the lifestyle for her own future marriage, the wives openly and jokingly talking about their sex life (with the same man!), one of them pursuing a college degree, and another one working! I mean, every day she drives her big SUV to an office where she talks to people, lunches out, textes her kids on her cell phone, and brings home an income, yet still willingly stays in this marriage. Maybe I'm narrow-minded (and I don't pretend not to be ignorant about this culture), but I can't really compute the two!
Apart from that, there was something perplexingly warm about this family, with all three wives (soon to be a fourth) living under the same roof, with the husband and their 13 kids. I thought the guy was mostly insufferable (although to them he's probably "very charismatic"), with his sense of being "the big prize" (constantly saying things like "I must assure that everyone gets the same amount of time with me"), and his initial turning up his nose at the woman who will become wife #4 since she's divorced and thus "used goods" (er, dude, you're making your three wives, who love you and put up with you, go through knowing you're sleeping with others in their own home every day)... But although it probably isn't always easy, you could sense real affection between the wives, and towards each other's kids. The two who are busy outside the house can rely on the third, who happily stays home, takes care of all the children and makes dinner for them, so everyone is less stressed. Wife #1, who wanted a very large family but was only able to bear one daughter, says she's so happy that her daughter has siblings anyway, and that she could still be able to participate in parenting a large brood herself. I'm quite confounded, actually.
What do you think?
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Two things I've been thinking about lately...