We live in uncertain times in so many respects. You can spend days and watch 100s of documentaries trying to tease out the hows and whys, but pretty simply put, we live in a world with too many people. For me, it’s that simple. #metoo has been an eye-opener or at the very least uncovering of a world we were all aware of, and sadly too scared or entwined or accepting to point out.
Social media has made most world events both small back garden events to million women marches easily viewed; readily scrutinised and open for constant debate and criticism. The 15 minutes of fame has never been more relevant; a video can throw anyone or thing into a brief moment of infamy or fame, but it all boils down to the same lots of people; access to instant sharing; uploading and too many people with too much time.
As parents and people, we can open ourselves to incredible comments and even threats related to our opinions, actions or reactions. An email yesterday contained a link to a video of a Jenner baby scooting around in a baby-walker; an innocent sharing of a common worldwide and yes less than ideal toddler pastime. The anger this clip had created worldwide was shocking. Let’s happily accept the Kardashian/Jenner world is lived with great financial gain in the public domain and hence like any “job” it will draw the ire of some left, right, centre opinion holder(s) without reference. Just attack and retreat. It’s what parenting is about today; over-committed, frightened and most often criticised ideas and ideals.
The general anxiety in society and growth in children of all ages is a reflection of stress that starts before conception. The pressure to reproduce in a society where work and later marriage and age mean lower fertility; not to mention the chemicals and poisons surrounding us and in our foods, but hey, let’s not get the vegans started.
The anxiety of a single sperm hurtling through a sticky vagina with a dose of viagra on its tail and a multifocal Clomid overstimulated ovary offering up a host of eggs means preconceptually that there is immense pressure to perform and win. We are producing adrenaline-fueled babies into an overpopulated world and then we have to parent. While an older generation who raised us on Donnatal and bottles, with a cigarette hanging from their lips cannot comprehend the non-sleeping baby; “Close the door and let him cry it out!”, “Give him solids! He is already 2 months old!” are shouting from the Contented Little Baby Book right-wing corner and from deep the left with a swift childless uppercut, the “we would never” advisory board sprout forth the gems of the perfect parent plan. “Never say no! In fact, never say never and remember a fever, snot and diarrhoea are natural expulsions of human grief. Let them flow.” “We will never not be in physical contact with our child for the first 21 years of its life. We will also never deem to judge its sex through physical attributes. Connection is everything”.
Advice is not always free. It is doled out for a good dollar at seminars, some sensical some not, at baby clinics and antenatal classes, by nurses, doctors and even pharmacists; mostly tainted by experiences bad and old and often smudged by memories that are designed to allow further procreation. Views can be so diverse that literally night is day and no is yes. It’s terrifying for so many young parents and the fear of failure is cemented by the theories of damaging a child for life and the constant glare and comparisons made on social media. So what do you do?
Is gut feel or instinct sufficient or do you need to seek advice and from whom and which books should you read? Many articles support “GUT FEEL” in medical assessment but this is further determined by experience and training and as is clear from the world population explosion that there is no licence or level of education required to reproduce. Though better planning and a more ageing Primup “first baba” population seem to support the thought given around procreation; teenage and unplanned pregnancies are still very common and a blessing of an ever-horny human group. Thus experience is not a given in parents both single, double or multiple.
No matter how you manage your family and children, there will be a contrarian view where those who are too “strict” are told to relax and enjoy the madness and mayhem and those who are more “laissez-faire” approach are asked where the routine is to assist in organising the immature, somewhat schizoid brain! As with so many avenues of life, “horses for the course” with a heap of common sense is a pretty good combo for raising kids. Not raising them right or left, but just raising them while still making room for parental SELF and relational else. Terran Williams of Thedudedad.com wrote a stunning piece on why he/we are not leaving South Africa for our children.
We all need to live a little and not just live for our littlies. Sure we will need to make changes and sacrifices; we all do for work and friends and education. Surely having kids and the joys they bring will allow a little more selflessness with greater reward. But life needs to go on and be lived and loved and appreciated as a person, a couple and as groups. From preconception through pregnancy; the birth (hypno, aqua or beyond) and into the lives of ourselves and our kids, let’s try and relax a little. Trust some instinct and just enjoy.
Advice as they say is something everyone has, much like an asshole, and should be taken with a pinch of lube! Trust a few sensible souls and more importantly, trust the self.