I'm big into labels. It's not the most popular position to hold, but I've found that labels often make things easier for everyone, and I like them adhered to. Strictly. If you call yourself a vegetarian and I see you eating fish, you better believe I'll be outing you as the pescetarian that you are. When I became a parent, when I was groping around like I'd misplaced my glasses with a confusing newborn and all these instincts I thought were wrong and weird, finding a concept like attachment parenting was a veritable life preserver tossed at me from the banks of experience. A label. Finally. Something I could research. Identify with. Cling to. But, I've been a part of enough "causes" to know a zealot when I see one, when I start to become one. And? It's not pretty. Zealots are a thin veneer of annoying, self-righteous jerkiness, hiding an insecure and defensive recent convert. I've unabashedly started many, many sentences with, "Dr. Sears says..." and finished them with what I honestly believe to be sound advice; just because my own mother/sister/friend didn't say it doesn't make it invalid or preachy. But where's the line? And have I crossed it? Why am I asking so many rhetorical questions?
Recently, I've started feeling somewhat alienated by the "natural parenting" community, which is populated by a ton of totally nice, well meaning people... and a bunch of argumentative zealots to whom "go with your gut" is a personal slogan. My mothering instinct is intact, but so is my brain, and when you argue that your child was "completely different" after their MMR, blaming it for autism diagnosed by your chiropractor, the debate ends. Because you're talking nonsense. When you refuse antibiotics after your kid's sixth ear infection in as many months, after garlic oil and breastmilk have failed (and failed and failed and failed), you're not being "natural," you're being silly. When I cut my child's food into smaller pieces, I'm not stifling his natural instincts, I'm trying to keep him from gagging himself which, I realize, will not kill him. But, do you want to gag your way through every meal because it's what all the popular blogs are encouraging?
Never before has having a philosophy been so exhausting. Keeping up with what's en vogue -- natural rubber pacifiers? Check! Wait, no artificial nipples? Okay! Books are cool, right? Hang on, is that a picture of a baby in a crib? RED ALERT RED ALERT NOT AP -- is a part-time job I just don't have the energy for. Or, frankly, the devotion to. Suddenly, it all just seems so... inane. The fervor smacks of having nothing else to do, nothing else to think about. I'm no great mind, but I'd rather take an hour to listen to Fresh Air than comment on Facebook about what a demonic bastard that Ferber is.
George eating Trader Joe's brand cheese puffs out of a plastic snack cup.
I'm not recusing myself entirely; the NP/AP community still has a lot to offer and I still have a lot to learn. For once in my life, however, I'm giving up the title. I'm no longer a strict adherent. I'm the pescetarian of the parenting set, and that's totally okay by me.