Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Raising Babies the way of Parisians

This is a blog post unrelated to cloth diapering but a great discussion piece.

My husband and I decided shortly after my daughter was born (probably before then) that I would make the sacrifice of giving up my career and stay at home with my baby girl.  It really wasn't that much of a sacrifice.  Truth be told, I worked for about 2 months after my maternity leave and it was dreadful leaving her every day.  And I had it good--I was given 1 day off a week so I only worked 4 days. It still was tough leaving my daughter every day.  I know moms do it all the time but it wasn't for me.

So outside of owning a cloth diaper shop that keeps me very busy, I decided that staying at home with my daughter would be my job.  I would weave her into my daily "chores" that my obsessive compulsive self couldn't let go.  I wouldn't allow for her to spend hours upon hours in front of the t.v. and I would not spend time on Facebook or on the phone when I could focus on her.  In other words, my focus is her if I'm not putting away clothes, washing dishes or preparing meals.  And even then, I incorporate her into those tasks.

Guess what?  It's hard.  Really hard.  And as she gets older, it's become even harder.  Why?  I'm really not all that creative with a toddler.  I'm not the type of mom who can find a string, a piece of paper and some play-doh and magically have a craft idea for my daughter.  My short attention span doesn't allow for me to sit for more than 15 minutes at a time on the floor in front of playmobil.  I get dizzy if I blow bubbles for more than 5 minutes.  When I read Scott Noelle's "Daily Groove", I get frustrated because I so try to be the ever-patient mother to a toddler but sometimes (okay at least once a day) the patience thins to nothing.

So several weeks ago my dad handed me an article from the New York Times that reviewed a book called "Bringing up Bebe."  I have not read this book, only the review of the book.  You can read the same article here.    It intrigued me.  Not because I want to be a Parisian mom (although subsidized nanny care and extended maternity leave IS awesome!) but because it made me realize that I actually don't have it in me to not focus on my child.  Am I happier for it?  I'm not sure.  I think that choosing to be this type of mom can make some of us a bit more frazzled, tired and unshowered some days.  But I really feel like I would be overridden with guilt if I raised her any differently.  I already feel a bit of guilt when I have a babysitter come over for 2 hours so that I can work free of disruptions.  I also think it's interesting because my thought has always been that Europe is full of attachment parenting-type moms and dads who co-sleep, breastfeed for years and focus completely on their children.

If you agree with the premise of the book, I don't think that makes you at all a bad parent.  If what the author writes is true and most Parisian parents raise their kiddos this way, do they have a happier culture?  Are all Parisian moms more relaxed?  Are the children better adjusted at some point?  Discuss.