This topic has been rolling around in my head for awhile, gaining momentum and then falling by the wayside. In light of the current TIME cover that is on everyone's minds these past few days, I thought I'd pull this out of the ol' noggin and put it out there. If you're not sure what I am talking about with respect to the TIME cover, just google "TIME breastfeeding cover" or words like that and you will soon be up to speed.
What mysteries are we pondering today? One recent one for me is this idea that we, as parents, have the right to judge what other parents are doing, based on our own experiences. This fits squarely into the discussion of how long to breast feed your child and the whole idea of attachment parenting, but those recent hot buttons are not what is fueling this topic for me. The cause of it was a brief stop at Wal-Mart a few weeks ago. Of course you see all kinds of people at Wal-Mart. Heck, I shop there and I'm sure I could someday end up on a "People of Wal-Mart" picture (not that I aspire to that.)
Anyway, I was waiting in line to check out at Wal-Mart and a child started screaming a few lanes over. The person who was in front of me in line started talking to the check-out person about the child, and making comments about how her children never behaved that way in public and if they had, she would have dragged them out. What followed was about 10 minutes of the check-out person and the woman in front of me talking about this poor child and parent a few lanes over and how they would handle the situation differently. At least, it felt like 10 minutes when you factor in that I was in a hurry, had only come in for one or two things and was headed elsewhere, and the kid was still screaming. After the woman in front of me finished up, the check-out person then tried to continue the conversation with me (I was not a willing participant) and then started up with the woman behind me in line.
So here is my dilemma. Even as parents, are we really ever qualified to discuss and opine on someone else's child rearing? Do we ever really know all of the facts of any given situation, such that we are able to offer up advice or tell someone what we would do in that situation? I don't think so, because I do not believe that we can ever really, truly step into someone else's shoes in that way. I will say that I have been on the receiving end of screaming tantrums once or twice in B's 6 years. We actually walked out of a birthday party because she started throwing a fit. We quietly apologized to the mother of the party girl and physically picked B up and carried her out - literally kicking and screaming. We even had an "Exorcist" moment in the car when she, finally buckled into her car seat, ordered us to "turn this car around, right now!" in a very throaty, deep voice. If it had not been slightly comical through our tears of frustration and embarrassment, we might have been a little freaked out. My point in telling that story is not to highlight one of B's episodes, but to highlight the idea that while many of the other parents at that party might have understood what we were going through, none of them would know exactly what the situation was, or why we handled it the way we did (although I am sure some there might have had an opinion on how they would have handled it.)
I revert back to something one of Rob's cousins mentioned to me a year or two ago. She said that you cannot be a parent without being a hypocrite, something that she learned through hands on parenting as well. A good example of this, is that before I was blessed with little ones, I used to swear that I would never use a leash on my child. I thought that parents who had cords attached to their kids just did not know how to control them and that when I became a parent, I would do better. Then I became a parent. Then my daughter started to walk and then run. Then I bought a leash. Seriously, you never know how you will handle a situation until you are smack in the middle of it.
So, what did I do at Wal-Mart? I kept my mouth shut and my opinions to myself. I silently chided the women in the lane I was in for having the gall to think that might know better than the little girl's mom what to do. I also silently said a little prayer for the Mom of that little girl, wishing her peace and patience to deal with the situation. But I kept my mouth shut. In that same vein, I may opine about breast feeding, but at the end of the day, I did what was best for my kids and what my body allowed me to do. I do not assume to know what is in the hearts and minds of other moms and I do not assume to know what works for them or their children. I will say that it is kind of creepy (for me) to see a toddler walk up to his or her mom and actually ask for milk, then go back to playing with his friends, but that is me. I do not have a problem with breast feeding in public, but that's another topic for another day.
The other little mystery that has been bugging me.... hours of labor. How exactly do you count the hours of labor? Is it the time from the first contraction until the baby comes, or is it just from when the water breaks until baby's arrival? Or maybe just the active pushing? I am confused and curious because several friends have recently had babies and I have heard "horror" stories about the long hours of labor - going to the hospital at lunchtime on Wednesday and baby coming early Thursday morning, or even better, going to the hospital on Sunday and baby coming on Tuesday. Oh wait, that was me. I wonder. Does anyone even know? Is there a standard measurement? How do we figure this out?
With B, I started having contractions around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. They were short and not very close together, but it was enough for me to call the doctor. By 4 in the afternoon, they were closer together and lasting longer. By 7, we were on our way to the hospital. At 8:30, my water broke and B arrived around 11:30. I would say that my labor lasted around 3 or 4 hours, going from the time my water broke until she arrived. I guess that would be "active labor." Where does the rest of that day figure in?
With K, I was sent to the hospital by my doctor, before contractions started. I guess you could say that I was induced, starting at 6 p.m. on Sunday night. Nothing really happened until Tuesday morning, when I was given a different medication to really get things moving. I got the epidural around 7 and I think the doctor broke my water around 8 and K arrived around 1. (I would have to check what the time of birth was, cause as I write this, I don't remember.) But with her, I'd say I was in labor for 5 or 6 hours. Realistically, before that, nothing much happened.
As I write this, I do not really have a closing for my thoughts, just the idea that they are finally out of my head and that space can be taken up with something else..., like why I can win random contests at the mall but can't win the lottery. More on that another day.