I keep having this dream where I’m sitting on a plastic chair in a circle of people, mostly women. I am listening to someone speak. Eventually I look down and realize, much to my chagrin, that I am naked. It’s all hanging out there as I perch on my plastic chair.
For some reason reaching for something to cover myself or getting up and running away as fast as I can is not something that occurs to me. Instead I sit there and squirm uncomfortably in my seat trying to find a creative way to cross my legs and arms in a fashion that will cover my bits so no one will notice I’m in my birthday suit.
I don’t succeed. Sometimes my husband, John, is also featured in these dreams (fully clothed). I hiss at him impatiently, HELP ME, FOR CRAPS SAKE. He can’t help. My state is unsalvageable.
I used to have these dreams all the time when I was in school, usually I was giving a presentation in the dream and I would look down to see my clothes were nowhere to be found. I didn’t have these dreams for a long time. This was good because they suck. It’s just a dream but still, my subconscious self always feels so humiliated. It looked like I might be free of them forever…
… and then I became a mom.
I know what these dreams are about. When I was in university they were about feeling exposed and vulnerable. Now, as I go through different phases of my crash course in Parenting 101 they are, yet again, about feeling exposed and vulnerable. This time it’s about my parenting choices. Just making a seemingly innocent choice can make you a target.
I was chatting with my mom at one point when my daughter was first born and I conspiratorially said her: Okay, so, co-sleeping… Just in case it comes up and someone says something to you … and then I proceeded to give her stats (ammunition) on co-sleeping and SIDS and you can just say this and that and x and y and… Before I really got going she stopped me and said that she wouldn’t be telling anyone anything. She said that it wasn’t anyone’s business. She said that I had to trust that I am doing what I feel is best and just do it.
She was right. It’s parenting, not an exam or a debate.
Sometimes parenting can feel like sitting in a group of faces, some friendly and some not-so, and looking down to see that your sweet cheeks are parked naked in a plastic chair.
Where does she sleep? Is she breastfeeding? When will you wean? Do you hold him all the time? Cloth or disposable? Will you go back to work? How much screen time? DO YOU THINK YOU’RE A BETTER MOTHER THAN ME?
It’s hard not to feel exposed as a parent. Your choices are right out there. Even if you are careful to never ever bring up politics or religion amongst mixed company it is nearly impossible to avoid making reference to one parenting choice or another. Things you take for granted as normal others do not and BAM, there you’ve gone and unwittingly offended somebody. Or you suddenly find yourself feeling defensive over a remark that the author likely didn’t give a second thought to.
I think the mommy wars are bullshit; I really do believe that 99% of us are doing what we think is very best for our little ones and there doesn’t need to be a fight. Although it’s hard not to BE exposed as a parent, I don’t need to FEEL exposed by my choices.
I have happy kids and a happy family and although we’re not always smiling and singing and tap dancing on rainbows, we’re doing alright. I wore my baby and breastfed and co-slept and I fed them hotdogs for dinner tonight and I let them eat as much Halloween candy as they want and I’m a vegetarian and I always wear makeup (hello, under eye concealer) and that’s how we (currently) roll.
That’s not a battle cry, it’s just my life. What we have going on isn’t for everyone, but it’s working for us.
Thank you to motherhood, for giving me a chance to own my choice, important choices… and actually grow up a bit.
And thank you to my mom, for reminding me to have confidence in those choices, no matter how crazy they may sound to others.
I’m assuming I’m going to continue to have holy-crap-I’M-NEKED dreams. I’m sure my kids will keep me on my toes with various things to push me beyond my comfort zone.
I am conducting an experiment: I have challenged myself to try something new each month in 2022. Here are my (self imposed) rules. March is Escape Rooms. Let me know if you have ideas on fun/ interesting/ novel things I could try in the comments. Or join me, that would be even more lovely actually…