Thursday, September 9, 2010

More about keeping things whole (and critical comments)

As per my usual, reading comments about my Intactivism blog have me thinking....or stewing.  Whatev.

I hope Dooce has a thicker skin than I do.  

So let me be real with myself (and my 5 readers) for a minute.  
Do I think I'm right?  
Well of course I do.
Doesn't everyone think what they do is right?

Do I think other people are wrong?  
Hmmmm.  Now that is tricky.  Because I truly do understand people have different circumstances, different needs, different desires, different personalities.  
And so I don't think of them as being wrong necessarily, but I often simply cannot wrap my head around their choices.  I just don't get it.  

(Exception:  That crazy church dude in Florida who is gonna burn the Quran.  That is wrong and just plain stupid).  

What I do strongly believe is that many, many people are misinformed or not informed enough.  And maybe I believe this so strongly because I, again, simply can't wrap my head around people making certain choices if they had more information.

When I was pregnant with N, before we knew she was a girl, the ob asked if I would want the baby circumcised if it was a boy, and I said, "yes."  Because isn't that what everyone does?  My brother is circumcised, as is my husband.  I never dated an uncut guy, so that was all I was familiar with.

But then I took a childbirth class and started learning about natural childbirth and whatever you want to call that movement of "letting things happen without human interference."  And I started learning that in many, many cases, things will go along just fine if we leave nature alone to do its thing.  

When I found out G was a boy, D and I did some basic research into the procedure and what the benefits are of circumcising.  And we determined that in addition to being painful, it was unnecessary.  D didn't care whether his boys looked just like him....I mean, they all have penises so who cares, right?  

So in my own life, when I didn't know anything about circumcision (other than knowing that all the men in my life were cut), I was going to tow the line and do it too.  But once I got some information, I drastically changed my opinion.  

In the grand scheme of things, snipping off a little foreskin isn't a big deal.  But haven't there been lots of things in society that were once considered "ok" or "not a big deal" that then become HUGE deals?  

And so maybe I focus on these little things, but so what?  Somebody has to.

Once my children grow up a bit and I'm not suckling a baby or looking at little boy penises all the livelong day during diaper changes, I won't have these topics on the brain.  I'll move onto other "small issue" issues.  

But I sure hope that when I die, if part of death is knowing all the answers to everything in life, I hope I find out that my boys get to experience extra awesome sex because their momma didn't snip 'em.  


Mrs. Haid said...

I normally don't read comments because of Google Reader and thus, the post must be terribly interesting for me to comment.

I think that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and that really, its fine for someone else to think my opinion is wrong. I don't think its okay for them to tell me I am wrong, no matter how eloquently or rudely (per your statement about the Koran-burners ... that is rude. Perhaps that person has a psychological disorder, too, or perhaps a really strong conviction about his religion being the only right one... kind of like how your conviction for nursing is the only right one?)

Unless one asks, "Do you think I am wrong about this?". Then I think its fair game for you to openly and articulately share your concerns about someone else's opinion.

I hear myself, my concerns, and my own ruminations a lot in your blog through your writing voice, and I assume you were a language arts teacher (or perhaps social studies? equipping students to express their thoughts?).

I also stay at home most of the day with my one, circumcised son, who nursed for a year, and then weaned to bottle with milk laced with formula. And then straight formula. He chugged that and wouldn't tolerate nursing or cow's milk.

I think people often need to decide what the purpose of the writing is about... is it written for themselves as a reflection on their day? as a way to express or articulate issues they are working out? to test out ideas to see if they are really want they think? to motivate or convince others to do something? to be a feedback or discussion forum? I consider this a lot. I rarely want my blog to be an open forum. I don't have thick skin; I don't want to solicit advice from perfect strangers. I think most people make informed choices. They choose to read certain genres of parenting books, or to not. They ask their parents or friends for advice, or they rely on doctors' advice. And then they just go with that.

My therapist says that most people don't re-hash their points of view or rationales over and over, and that this is really just s symptom of an anxiety disorder. I found taking a class in MBSR and listening to J.K. Zinn's books (on tape!) helped me to refocus my energies, too. Also, it helped to thicken my skin a bit, or at least offer some sort of deflecting ability.

Mrs. Haid said...

So anyway...

I appreciate reading your thoughts. They are interesting to me.

I don't appreciate reading that some of my choices are inconceivable, and that the only rationalization for me making them is that I am misinformed. But really... I can't picture anyone responding positively to that scenario. I think if you're saying stuff of that nature that is even borderline accusatory, you can't be surprised if you get a brush off or equally insulting comment.

And PS - so glad I am not on an island with my one year old son. I'd be fishing him out of the water all day or constantly or sunburned and cranky or desperately in need of parental assistance from my husband OR a cocktail.

Giselle said...
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Giselle said...
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Giselle said...

Mrs. Haid is wise. ;) And a much better writer and commenter than me.

I will take from her comment that I need to remind myself why you are writing. This isn't a parenting magazine or even an editorial. Just your thoughts in a public journal. Although I think that you secretly love the negative opposing comments and stirring up trouble. ;)

I just bristle at the "holier than thou" mothering attitudes. Because it is hard enough to stay on top of everything as a mother, without having your firing squad be made up of fellow struggling mothers. But again, this is your aren't printing it out and sending it to mothers at the playground. You are entitled to your own opinions...otherwise it is you on the other end of the "holier than thou".

And I think it is hard to read your thoughts sometimes, because usually I don't get to read someone's journal. I just walk around wondering if these other smiling mothers at the park are thinking negative thoughts at me. And reading your blog forces me to acknowledge that at least some of them are actually thinking, "That woman is an idiot and doesn't care about her child(ren) because she's too stupid to research things and come to the right conclusion." Which makes it harder for me to happily drag out my picnic juice boxes that are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup and fruit snacks that stick in their molars and give them cavities. Or now to change the diaper of my circumcised son in front of them.

That's all. I just need to remember that it doesn't really matter if I am being judged. I can stand by most of my decisions as a mother. And the others I just have to chalk up to being only human. And also, maybe most importantly, that it is so satisfying to read a blog that makes me think and stand up for myself occasionally rather than always nodding along, "yes...I clean up a lot of poop too." ;)

Love ya!

Giselle said...

Dear God, why does Blogger hate me? For some reason my super long comment posted 3 times. I've deleted the duplicates, but didn't want you to wonder what I'd taken off. blows.

CARRIE said...

Thanks, ladies, for your comments.

Mrs. Haid--you bring up some extremely good points. As I even had to remind myself last night during my fit of insomnia, my blog is my cognitive behavioral therapy, hashing through issues. Because on a lot of issues, I really, really compare myself to others and question why I did this or that. And usually I have to work very hard to convince myself that what I do is right for me.

For example, a longtime good friend homeschools her children, and even though I know this would be a recipe for disaster for me, I give myself a hard time because I don't want to do it. Like it is an indication that I don't really love my daughter because I happily send her off to public school.

But, yes, rehashing the same thoughts is OCD in full-gear. Obsessing is one thing I am extremely good at.

Giselle--You know me so well. I do get my jollies from the negative feedback....which is stupid because then I obsess about them and fret over how awful a human I am because of my opinion.

But the truth is that when I am out among other moms, if I do even notice things about their mothering (formula or circumcision or whatever), I don't even register a thought about it. It's almost like my opinions are on a philosophical level, not real-world (if this makes any sense at all).

Anonymous said...

I agree with your viewpoints on the "issues" but I really regeritating them on a weekly basis is a little repetitive. Everyone has some level of anxiety and to some degree it is ones responsibility to control it. Not to use it as a reason to accuse others of doing something wrong. I am sure that a lot of people would agree that breastfeeding a child while on antipsychotic medication would be a poor choice as well. In my humble opinion I think breastfeeding is best unless laced with very serious antipsychotic drugs.

CARRIE said...

If you think it is repetitive reading what I write, imagine what it's like to be in my head and think it repetitively. Not a picnic. ;)

With that being said, I have taken the steps I can to control it---going through 2+ years of therapy, being under the continued care of a psychiatrist and taking an antidepressant. And this blog is my way of getting it out of my head as best I can so that the endless loop stops.

I did extensive research on taking an antidepressant while pregnant and nursing as well as discussing it with my psychiatrist, ob and pediatrician because it was a very serious concern for me. Balancing my health with the health of my baby.

And all the research suggests that even when laced with antidepressants, breast milk is still far superior to formula, some of which has been found to be laced with melamine and perchlorate.

I do not take antipsychotics/neuroleptics and never have. These would fall under the category of medications for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, like Haldol and Thorazine. I do not know how the risks of these medications relate to ADs like Zoloft or Lexapro.

But your point about how others would disagree with my choice is valid.

I did however do the legwork of learning, and that is what I wish more people would do ---- take the time and effort to do the research and become informed.

Given how many people think the President is a Muslim and can't name the 3 branches of government, I'm still sticking with my notion that most people don't give a lot of stuff the thought it deserves.

Keri said...

Wow. I have to tell you that I'm very impressed with how well you're taking the constructive criticism and the discussion of how you approach giving out your opinion. I think if I were you, I'd be rolled up in a ball crying right now (which is why my main blog is private!). :-) Your maturity and wisdom definitely comes through in the way you've responded to all of the negative/critical comments.

Mrs. Haid and Giselle both make excellent points and are BOTH better commenters than I, so I won't try to add much to what they've said.

But something else just occured to me - I hope you're not at your limit of receiving constructive criticism, although I'm not sure this qualifies as such, exactly. Just an observation.

You know that you come down pretty hard on the Left on most issues and I come down pretty hard on the Right. Your comment about Obama being thought to be a Muslim made me you know WHY 20% of the public thinks this?

You've mentioned before that you don't watch TV, so I can only assume that you get all of your news from the local paper which, I think most would agree, leans left. So my question is this: Just as you ask all parents to be responsible by doing research, checking out facts, considering all angles of an issue before making a decision, I ask you: Have you ever considered checking out some other media outlets that are more conservative, just to see what the "other side" is saying? To be responsible about your political opinions by considering all angles and THEN forming your thoughts?

Like I said, I usually land on the conservative side of issues, but I do make a concerted effort to consider the opposing viewpoint before coming to a conclusion. Fortunately, any mainstream TV news station will provide that opposing viewpoint for me. But I do make the effort, especially with big issues like the healthcare bill, to find out just why others are thinking differently than I am. After all, they must have a reason for their opinions, right?

Although I watch Fox News and listen to conservative talk radio, I refuse to base my own decisions on what one side says, without considering the other. I simply think that's the intelligent and responsible thing to do, just like you (and I) believe that it's intelligent and responsible to do your research when making parenting decisions.

But just as it honestly doesn't occur to some parents to give "the other side" any thought, maybe it honestly hasn't occured to you that there is another side of the political spectrum worth considering.

My eyes were open to media bias about 10 years ago when I read the book "Bias" by Bernie Goldberg. Great food for thought, if you happen to be looking for some non-fiction.

I'm not trying to turn you into a Republican - there's likely to be icicles in Hades before that would happen ;-) - I'm just sharing the thought that occured to me, that it's just as important to consider all sides of EVERY issue before forming an opinion, not just medical/parenting issues.

Whew. I hope you hear nothing but rainbow and sunshine comments for all the rest of your blog posts! :-)

Keri said...
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CARRIE said...

Keri---It's a good thing we're friends because I'm "this close" to my limit. ;)

I do read the local paper, and I don't watch tv, but when issues come up I make a point to try to read online news sources, like CNN. And this sounds stupid, but whenever there is a "burning issue" like healthcare, I read what people link from Facebook. Sometimes it is Fox and sometimes it is more liberal fare. I'm kinda the black sheep liberal in my extended family, so I definitely get to know what the other side thinks.

In the local mayoral election, I am actually sitting on the fence. I don't know that the Democrat is the way to go. And I don't vote straight party just to vote for the party.

Yes, I think I am moving on for awhile to lighter sagas, the adventures of sewing buttons onto coats....