So being the sightly crazy person that I am, anytime I embark on a new challenge, I like to feel prepared. And whilst obviously being prepared is probably not a possible state of parenthood, I’m trying to limit my uncertainty (a bit part of my anxiety is tied up in uncertainty, so for better or worse…) by reading loads and loads of books about parenting. My favorite one so far is this one:
Which was funny, honest, and actually gave me loads of information I didn’t know (side note: did you know you bleed for SIX WEEKS after giving birth? And here I was thinking that the one advantage to pregnancy was not having my period for 9 months…apparently evolution decided that was too much niceness for a new mom…)
But it wasn’t a “how to parent” book, and it wasn’t at all prescriptive – maybe that’s why I liked it. But I also wanted someone to suggest HOW I should morph into this thing called a parent – what I should DO, how I should ACT…something like the books I read before getting my dog, which gave me loads of info about exactly how I should raise my puppy.
So I’ve tried a few others. I was innately attracted to Attachment Parenting (or AP as it’s authors like to refer to it…why does everyone need their own acronym?) because as a freshman in college (a first year in university, for you brits), I had an anthropology professor who I loved, who was a big advocate of co-sleeping, and who’d focused much of his career on it, and who was very convincing (not just cuz he was an awesome professor, also because he had loads of evidence).
And since AP (now I’m doing it! Tho only because I’m lazing and Attachment Parenting has a lot of letters to type!) is based on the same sort of science as co-sleeping, and advocates co-sleeping, I thought it would be a good fit.
Well, I’m not 100% convinced…basically, my verdict is that I like loads of the behaviors in AP – co-sleeping as mentioned baby wearing, breast feeding – but I don’t like the attitude of it. And I especially, ESPECIALLY don’t like the way in which it prizes the baby’s bond with the mother (or in our case, the gestational mother) over the father (non-gestational mother).
What is up with people thinking it’s not important for parenting to be shared equally?
This is not just an AP thing – this is a societal thing. Do I notice it more because B and I have a very equal relationship that is not complicated by gendered roles and expectations? Or is it my feminist side? Or is it just that society is dumb and hung up on the way things used to be?
This is true in so many areas. In the UK, the one good thing the LibDems have done with their tiny crust of power in the coalition is bring in paternal leave options that are (almost) equivalent to maternity leave. So the UK is already loads better than the States ( I can’t tell you how glad I am to be having this baby here, from a financial perspective as well) – you get pay from your employer for a minimum length of time, then you get statutory pay from the government, for up to 9 months, then your job is held for you for a full year (and if you have a great job like mine, you can actually get fully paid for a good chunk of that time, and then fifty percent of your salary for another good chunk of time). Now, parents can split that time equally, so that the non-birth giving parent can take up to six months if the gestational parent goes back to work after 6 months, and the NGP (non-gestational parent) can take over the benefits where the GP (gestational parent) left off.
This is what B and I are planning to do. It’s very important to me, not just because I love my job, but mostly because I want B to have the same time and bonding experience with our baby that I get! Why should I be the only one to get to stay home and take care of our baby all day long? Why shouldn’t that be important to both parents?
Since the LibDems brought this in, it has been taken up by practically nobody, as far as I know. Not cool, British Dudes, not cool. If B was a man, it would be EVEN MORE important to me that we do this. Because then it starts to be a feminism question. If all dads did this, then the prejudice child-bearing-age women suffer in the workplace would be substantially eased. Do you know how many of my bosses in this country have said (often in their cups) that they hesitate to hire a 20-something woman who’s just gotten married, because that woman is clearly going to go off and have babies? ALL OF MY BOSSES. AT THREE DIFFERENT COMPANIES. ALL OF WHOM WERE WOMEN THEMSELVES.*
If men were just as likely to go off on parental leave, this wouldn’t be an excuse available to hirer-ers anymore!
Right. I have much more to say about equal parenting, and I hardly touched on attachment parenting, but I think this is long enough now don’t you?
*actually one of them was the boss of my boss. But same thing.