by Borderstan.com June 5, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,546 0

"Baby Bottle""iPhone"

Today's mom is a Media Mom, with a baby bottle and iPhone. (Leslie Jones)

From Leslie Jones. She writes about urban motherhood every two weeks in her column TWB Poo (There Will Be Poo). You can email her at leslie[AT]borderstan.com

A recent CNN opinion piece, “Facebook threatens to ‘Zuck up’ the human race“, by Andrew Keen, got me thinking about my own dependence on social media. My husband sent me the article, thanks honey.

Step one is admitting you have a problem. I love my iPhone. I was late to the iPhone game, but it has quickly become an important accessory. I find that if I’ve accidentally left it at home when I go out, I feel irritated and cut off. And I don’t just use it as a phone. I check my email and Facebook throughout the day. It’s so easy; I just click on the little app and I can see my messages, pictures my family and friends have posted, and what the girl in my 10th grade English class made for dinner. Ok, so maybe that is something I could live without.

I like to think Facebook keeps me connected; and to some extent it does. Two of my cousins had babies around the same time I did and we share photos and encouraging comments. But I haven’t picked up the phone to actually call them, well, maybe ever.

And then there are the vacation photos of distant friends that make me feel pangs of jealousy:  a smiling couple lounging by an ocean-side pool in an exotic locale with fruity drinks. They look like they’re having so much fun; they’re so interesting and thin and rich and blah blah blah. Sometimes I like to imagine the dozens of really awkward, ugly pictures they had to weed through to get to that one shining, jealousy-inducing example, or the really horrible relationship-ending fight they got into right afterwards. I know; I have a problem.

An ABC news article published back in January, “Facebook: Friends’ Happy Pictures Make You Sad?“, by Matthew Rosenbaum, refers to a study done at Utah Valley University. “The more time students spent on Facebook, the more they thought others had it better than they did.” I’ll admit to feeling this way. I sometimes feel a little tied down, and wish that I too could go lounge on a beach with a fruity drink. Especially when it’s 1 pm and I haven’t found the time to shower yet.

But my concern about how Facebook is affecting me isn’t nearly as important to me as how it may be affecting my daughter.

Keen refers to an article written by Aisha Sultan and Jon Miller for CNN, “Facebook parenting.” They write that “in the case of our children, a permanent and public story has already been recorded about them before they have a chance to decide whether they want to participate or even whether the narrative is true to their own vision of self.”

Yikes. I’ve thought people were over-sharing in the past, especially reality TV celebrities, and imagined what their children might say about it when they’re old enough to care. And I try to keep my postings about Baby limited to cute photos and laments about my lack of sleep. But I am making a choice for her, however innocuous I may feel it is. What will it be like for the first generation of Facebook babies when they run for political office?  Will pictures of them covered in goo somehow factor into debates and, hee hee, smear campaigns?

But that’s a long way away. How is it affecting Baby now? For one, she thinks my phone is the bee’s knees and tries to stick in her mouth every chance she gets. And why shouldn’t she? Momma seems to think it’s pretty great.

After Baby was born, and I found myself stuck for hours every day in a chair nursing her, or rocking her back to sleep every two hours in the middle of the night, I discovered that checking Facebook was a great distraction because it only required one hand and half my concentration. I know, I’m supposed to stare lovingly into my daughter’s eyes every time I nurse her. But I’m with her 24/7 and there’s really only so much of that you can do, or I could do anyway. I began interacting with Facebook more and I developed quite an expansive community on Forestville. Take that fruity-drink-enjoying-beach-goers.

So Baby has grown up watching me attached to this phone. Yesterday I put it down. My new resolution is to try not to use it in front of her whenever possible. I can’t promise that I won’t post silly pictures of her doing cute things (and ones that are shot from my best angle), but it’s a start. Oh, and write a blog about her….

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by Borderstan.com May 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,461 0

"Borderstan""Baby"

Are you mom or dad enough? (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Leslie Jones. She writes about urban motherhood every two weeks in her column TWB Poo (There Will Be Poo). You can email her at leslie[AT]borderstan.com

Two weeks ago was my first Mother’s Day as a mom. We went to visit my parents for the weekend and I sat down to do some writing Saturday night.  Mother’s Day and my role as new mom were on my mind, and I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t help thinking about the recent Time magazine cover and the related article.

What does it mean to be “mom enough”? The article “The Man Who Remade Motherhood” isn’t nearly as sensational as the cover might lead one to believe. It’s almost a little disappointing; it’s so rational.

But it did get me started thinking about what it means to be a parent.

The article poses questions about parenting styles, but the title grabs your attention. “Are you mom enough?” What about dad enough, or parent enough? Nope, mom enough — because that is what our culture is obsessed with: breastfeeding and cloth diapers, and parenting styles, and even how moms give birth. The title and the cover photo were calculated to get people to buy the magazine, by any means necessary, which I find irritating. But I suppose that if it starts a conversation too, that’s a good thing.

Parenting is not easy and most parents do the best they can. We don’t need sensational media pitting us against each other. It’s one thing to disseminate information about the health benefits of breastfeeding. I love awareness, but this doesn’t feel like that, it isn’t that; it’s divisive and unnecessary.

Breastfeeding is a hot button topic. It’s also a very personal choice for all moms. A blogger I follow, “The Laughing Stork“, said that when she was asked if she was “pro-breastfeeding or pro-formula”, she replied that she was “pro-feeding my child”. I really like that response.  Not that it matters to anyone, but I breastfeed my daughter and I intend to until she is a year old, maybe more, depending on how things go. But it’s been easy for me and things have worked out. And — gasp — we occasionally supplement with formula. It’s not always so easy. You just don’t know what is going on in someone’s life, so it’s not really any of your business. I love breastfeeding, but it isn’t all butterflies and unicorns for everyone all the time.

My best friend in the world would love to breastfeed, but her premature baby was having trouble, and after months of struggling, she had to switch to formula. Is she “mom enough”? You don’t even know the meaning of the word “mom”; she is a super-hero mom-azon who makes me proud to call her my friend. She has been through things that would be considered torture outside a hospital. Trust me, she’s mom enough.

I had the pleasure of knowing a wonderful woman, Anne, back when we were young girls, at summer camp. She recently shared a video that was made about her family for the Amara adoption agency in Washington State. She and her wife, Amanda, are the incredible mothers of seven, yes you heard me right, seven adopted children. And if you don’t cry when you watch this video, well . . . you totally should. They are moms in the extreme, doing their best to create a loving home for their children. And again, their superlative parenting isn’t dependent on breastfeeding.

So breasts are not really what the Time article is about, but they are at the heart of the issue. And don’t get me wrong… I love breasts and their intended purpose. But the people who decided what the Time cover would be knew that it would rile people up. Let it… but not in the way they intended. Let it encourage us to stick together, in this great crazy endeavor called parenting, and not divide us.

Sit back and think about what it means to really be a mom, or a dad – a good one, anyway. For me, it has so much more to do with love and sacrifice, intelligence and morals, than anything so straightforward as a breast. Happy belated mothers day and forthcoming fathers day.

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by Borderstan.com May 7, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,395 1 Comment

"Borderstan""Baby""Baby Food"

"The idea of messing up three baby outfits in one day, not to mention cleaning off Baby, which she HATES, and makes me twitchy." (Leslie Jones)

From Leslie Jones. She writes about urban motherhood every two weeks in her column TWB Poo (There Will Be Poo). You can email her at leslie[AT]borderstan.com.

At Baby’s four-month pediatric appointment, we were told that we could begin trying baby food if we wanted to do so.  Some people recommend waiting until six months, and while there is apparently no added benefit to starting earlier, there also isn’t any harm.  According to MayoClinic.com, your baby is ready to try solids between four and six months — and when she can hold her head up, sit on her own, and shows interest in what you are eating.

We’ve been experimenting with solids since Baby was about four and a half months old, but we are really only getting into a routine now — at just over seven months.  I’ve read that it’s best for your baby’s development to let her feed herself.  Right. Have you tried this?

We have some really hysterical pictures of Baby covered from head to toe with yogurt.  She had a fantastic time, but how in the world am I supposed to deal with that kind of disaster three times a day? I like to keep things simple, and — I’ll admit it — I’m a little lazy. The idea of messing up three baby outfits in one day, not to mention cleaning off Baby, which she HATES, makes me twitchy.

We’ve tried varying approaches and I think we’ve finally found the solution. We take all of her clothes off!  I briefly toyed with the idea of feeding her in the shower, but our bathroom is a little cramped. Now I just strip her down, plop her in the highchair and let her have at it. A quick wipe down of both baby and highchair with a wet washcloth and we’re back in business.

Now I realize that this may be creating a whole new set of problems, or at least one in particular. I envision trying to explain to friends and strangers why my five-year-old insists on getting naked at the dinner table, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I know that you’re dying to hear what we’ve been feeding her. So, lucky readers, I will tell you!  I fully intend to make my own organic baby food. I really, really do. But right now I’m trying to expose baby to a variety of foods that are, quite frankly, a pain in the butt to prepare, especially when she’s only eating a few teaspoons and we have a very small freezer.

Like I said, I like to keep things simple (aka lazy mom), and the idea of steaming and puréeing an entire pumpkin, of which Baby will only eat three teaspoons, makes me very sad. I’ve been using the Plum and Sprouts brands of organic baby food. I’ll make my own baby food, I promise. And this is totally not like when I said I would use cloth diapers.

Or maybe I could just skip making baby food and go the route of Alicia Silverstone. Because chewing up food and spitting it into my baby’s mouth wouldn’t be weird at all, right?  And I’m pretty sure that would solve my problems with Baby getting covered in food!

Again, I just know you’re anxiously waiting to find out what kind of highchair I have. Space is a bit of an issue, so I wanted a highchair that we could leave sitting out and that wouldn’t make me cringe every time I looked at it. I went with the solid wood Keekaroo chair. Like the Stokke highchair, it is supposed to “grow” with your child, and can be used as a somewhat odd looking chair for adults. However, the Stokke doesn’t come with a tray and costs about $250. The Keekaroo has a tray and has the slightly less offensive price tag of $160.

People can get really worked up about what and how we feed our babies. I think the important thing to remember is that most parents try very hard to do what is best for their children. We may have different opinions about what that means, but we shouldn’t be too quick to judge.

As parents, we all have the right to make our own choices about what to feed our babies, whether you are making your own baby food, buying organic or non-organic, or chewing your baby’s food for him.

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by Borderstan.com April 20, 2012 at 10:00 am 2,873 1 Comment

"Borderstan""Baby Hand"

Even if the baby is the cutest one you’ve ever seen, please ask before touching. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Leslie Jones. She writes about urban motherhood every two weeks in her column TWB Poo (There Will Be Poo). You can email her at leslie[AT]borderstan.com.

Earlier this week a barista at the mall insisted on trying to guess my daughter’s age.

“Three months, right?”

I forced a smile, “She’ll be seven months next week.”

“Oh, wow, she’s a small one, isn’t she?”

“Um, no actually. She’s in the 90% percentile for height.”

“Oh.”

Did this person think that was some sort of compliment?  Or that I enjoy having strangers tell me that my daughter looks somehow stunted for her age?  Probably not. He was just being nice, showing interest in my baby, but he didn’t stop to think about the implications. I doubt he would have thought it was such a good idea to guess my age. And what if she was small for her age?  Does he think that would be something a parent would want pointed out?

And while I’m on the subject . . .

Baby screams when I put a hat on her. This winter I, of course, made her wear one on cold days. But when the weather is passably warm, well I choose my battles. On a recent cool day, I gave in to the disapproving stares and forced one on her, but after a few minutes of screaming I took it off. Her hair was slick with sweat. So no, she doesn’t need a hat.

No, you may not touch my baby. I know she’s crazy cute, but quite frankly I don’t know where your hands have been, stranger on the street. And I do mean even just a quick little squeeze of her hand. Most people are pretty good about resisting the urge. Few people are as clueless as the woman in the Encinitas Starbucks who stuck her fingers IN MY DAUGHTER’S MOUTH on a recent family vacation.

Squeezing a socked foot is, for me, acceptable, but you should always ask first. I know, I know, I’m hogging all the baby snuggles, but humor me. I don’t consider myself to be a germophobe*. I don’t always wash the binky that fell on the floor and I think that exposure to a reasonable amount of germs is good for the immune system. But let me make that choice.

“That baby needs more hair.” Yeah, I’ll get right on that.

This brings me to a truth I have discovered, dating back to when I became noticeably pregnant. The only thing you should ever say to a pregnant woman or parent is “You/your child are/is beautiful.” That’s it, ever, trust me. You might be surprised to discover how many women I know who were asked if they were having twins when they weren’t or if they were due “any day now” when their estimated due dates were months away.

It’s sounds like such a cliché; no one could possibly be that insensitive, but oh, they are. Most people wouldn’t make such an obvious faux pas, but think before you speak. You just don’t know what someone is going through or where he or she is coming from. The expectant mom you just told she “hardly even looks pregnant” might have just found out that her baby is measuring a few weeks behind and she’s freaking out. I could go on, but you get the picture.

And if you just feel like you can’t in all honesty say “that’s a beautiful baby” and you still feel the overwhelming urge to make some sort of comment (which, I promise, you don’t really need to do), take the advice of my family friend. Say, “My goodness, what a baby!”

Most people say and do the appropriate things, but not all. Fight the urge to give parenting advice or critique appearance. Don’t tell a pregnant woman ordering a latte that she shouldn’t have caffeine. (BTW, according to the March of Dimes, 200 mg a day is fine and that single shot latte has 75 mg, that can of diet coke 38 mg.)

Like my favorite blogger, Queen of the Couch, has said, if you see a pregnant woman doing lines of coke off the bar, please intervene. Otherwise stick with “You look beautiful.” Everyone’s happy, and no one gets punched in the face.

* I know this isn’t the technical term, but it sounds better than mysophobe.

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