Saturday, June 28, 2008

A housekeeping joke

I've decided to Do The Right Thing and read Babywise before commenting on it. It'll be painful, but I'd like to be able to address it head on, not simply based on excerpts and accounts of failure to thrive cases.

So, for today, I have a joke.

Q: How dirty does a toilet have to be for a man to clean it?
A: Dirty enough that a woman tells him to clean it.

Seriously, this was inspired by my own experience, which was echoed again and again in the comments at Ask Moxie regarding the splitting of household chores. Most people seem able to divide the tangible tasks fairly equitably. However, several women mentioned that they hate having to be the one to coordinate everything. I call it being the general of the household. A poster there called it having to be the Great Oz.

The point is, lots of women wind up de facto coordinator of all household tasks, from diapering the baby to planning the finances. In our house, my husband is willing to do pretty much any task I ask him to do. However, I have to ask him to do it right then - saying, "Can you do X by the end of the month" gets decidedly mixed results. And if I don't ask, it doesn't matter how filthy the house is, he will drift into the study and play computer games until he is summoned to do an assigned task. The other problem I have is that he will do it, but he often makes it very clear that he's not happy that I asked him to do it, sighing or rolling his eyes like a damned teenager. In his view, this is acceptable, as long as he complies with the request, since I couldn't possibly expect him to like doing it. Suffice it to say, I disagree.

So what's the answer? Can we great and powerful wizards of the home at least delegate some of the task delegation? Is is possible to say, "Honey, from now on, you're in charge of noticing when the bathroom needs cleaning"? I don't know. Maybe I'll try it and let you know how it works out.

(For the record, my husband does have regular chores that are all his, like doing our laundry every Sunday, and he's pretty good about doing it without reminding.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cry-It-Out Parenting

Darling Eliza brings to mind this issue. She is even more high-needs than her older sister, and life with her right now is really tough. It reminds me of the t-shirts I've seen that say, "You can't scare me - I'm a mom!" Sleep deprivation, extremely limited ability to get anything done during the day, and either remaining housebound (well, neighborhood-bound) or enduring screaming for the duration of any car trip. It really sucks in many ways. Luckily, I know from personal experience that it ends, and that fussy babies can become lovely little girls. It's just a question of battening down the hatches and doing what it takes to survive these few months, while respecting baby's needs and still allowing the parents some opportunity to catch their breath. In my opinion, having a securely attached child who can trust me and know all her needs will be met (NB: that's not to say in the future all her wants will be met) is well worth the trial by fire at the beginning.

However, many people disagree with this. The mainstream idea in our culture seems to be that babies should not inconvenience their parents too much, that their crying is not vital communication but obnoxious noise pollution to be stamped out, and that babies must be pushed toward independence as soon as possible. Thus, the cry it out advice. And in an exhausted state, many parents latch onto the advice as the holy grail of infant parenting - a way to get some sleep, some chores done, and some peace and quiet. It's understandable why people choose to do this. And it does "work" with many average babies - they give up trying to communicate their needs, or get exhausted, and go to sleep. I just can't bring myself to adhere to this technique when I consider the baby's point of view. Imagine being unable to move out of bed on your own, unable to take care of even your most basic needs, and in a scary, unfamiliar place. You call for your caregiver again and again, with increasing panic. No one comes. Eventually you become exhausted and fall into sleep. I just couldn't do that to my child.

Add in that high-needs/fussy/spirited/intense babies don't stop and fall asleep. They tend to cycle up and up and up, making themselves and everyone around them miserable. And mothers are wired to ache at their babies' crying like that, to intervene and make things better. It's almost as cruel to a mother to tell her she must not respond as it is to the baby. Message board postings about CIO attempts abound with phrases like, "my husband forced me to stay out of the room," "my husband had to hold me down," and of course, "we both cried for an hour."

In addition to all that, there are indications that practicing attachment parenting actually promotes healthier independence in older children, whereas babies left to cry and pushed to grow up tend more toward clinginess. Given that, and that the tough infant times last less than a year in most cases, why would anyone practice "detachment parenting?"

Next post: Ezzo parenting

Friday, June 6, 2008

Gay Marriage

PMomma reminded me about California's groundbreaking move, and it inspired me to write a little about the subject. First of all, yay, California! In practical terms, I'm all for gay marriage. I don't see how anyone could look at anti-miscegenation laws and the case law striking them down, and then argue that gay marriage can be banned. Just fifty years ago, people were panicking over mixing of the races, and claiming that the definition of marriage meant two people of the same race. Sound familiar?

However, I have to say that I think the government should get out of the marriage game altogether. Those "civil unions" that some fence-sitters advocate? The government should indeed provide civil unions - to everyone! Part of the hysteria over gay marriage is that "marriage" is steeped in religious history. Since it seems impossible to disentangle the word from religious trappings, shouldn't the government keep its hands off entirely? Two people who want to get hitched should be able to go to a government entity and get certified as a couple, in order to ease financial and legal issues. If they also want to get "married," they can do so in the house of worship of their choice. There, now everyone's equal under the law, the government isn't entangled with religion, and the homophobes get to keep their sacred vocab word.