The Bad Rebel Girl at Mommy and Me

I didn't want to go to Mommy and Me today, but Alexander did, so I bundled him up in his “Another Dissatisfied Customer of the United States of America” t-shirt (thanks Avram) and arrived a fashionable 20 minutes late. The class is held every Thursday at the hospital where I gave birth. It was standing room only today — more like sitting-room, as they make us women who have recently pushed babies through our sit-areas repose on the floor — so I stuck myself in the corner, saving the leader from having to do it.

The leader recognized me as the woman who runs her bathtub to calm down her baby (works great, so long as you don't pay for water). I chimed in when a woman voiced her concerns about not making enough milk. And then Alexander woke up from an hour-long nap, which is pretty much the longest he's slept in the past 24 hours, so I attempted to nurse him, then gave up when he lost interest and played with him instead. And we kept that up until a woman who'd been in my childbirth class mentioned that she'd parked her son in front of “Sesame Street” that morning, and he'd had an absolute ball.

From the reaction she got, you'd think she'd parked her son in front of a crack pipe and a copy of Screw.

The facilitator sprang into action, warning us against the devil box, which mesmerizes babies and lobotmizes their parents. A grandma visiting from out of town told us that her tv-free grandchildren play imaginative games with three sticks. Someone else told us that there are schools in the area that ban families from having TV in their homes.

This went on for half an hour. I shit you not. I held my tongue for as long as I could — longer than usual, perhaps, as I'm exhausted from baby's lack of sleep and the wall I was leaning against might as well have been made of goosedown — but predictably piped up as devil's advocate.

“I don't want to be devil's advocate,” I lied, “but I'm a big fan of TV. Big Bird taught me how to read when I was two.” Letting that one sink in, I continued, “I lived without TV for three years, and you know what? People who never watch TV are physically unable to take their eyes away when they are in the same room as one.”The leader concurred that “everything in moderation…” Score one, team Johnson!

I guess I should have left it at that, but at the end of the session I brought up the topic that's been weighing most heavily on my mind:

“I hate breastfeeding.”

I'm pretty sure I said it that way, rather than “I fucking hate breastfeeding,” but you couldn't tell from the looks on the faces of the breastfeeding moms. It was like I'd stolen the crack pipe from the Sesame Street-watching baby and plugged it into my own fat yap. Their scorn immediately turned to pity, though, and they offered pithy advice to call a $90 lactation consultant who “works wonders.” I was beginning to feel like the only non-Stepford mommy until a woman two babies down from me admitted, “my sister keeps going on about how special the mother-baby breastfeeding time is. I tell her, 'you know, for me, it's not.'” I smiled at her, delighted to learn that she lives in my town. There's hope for us yet in this leftist community.

On her way out of the conference room, the leader looked down at my again sleeping Alexander and said I was doing a good job.

I'd be doing a better job if maybe I could start my own Mommy and Me class, to be held at the Beer Can Museum and Tavern, where we could check our babies with the parking valet and sip champagne while bitching that this motherhood thing is the hardest job on the planet, for which no compensation is offered, and made no easier by those with impossible standards and the endless patience for infinte rounds of peekaboo.

Or maybe I just need a little more sleep. That's probably it. Because I woke up at three this morning and the baby was asleep on top of me and I had no memory of how he got there. But that's better than a one-night stand, I guess. At least, I bet my husband thinks so.

3 thoughts on “The Bad Rebel Girl at Mommy and Me

  1. Lady, you need some sympathy. Call me. (Or Anne. Or Kristen. Or Leeanne. Or somebody who knows something about reality.)

  2. Ohhh, Lynn–it sounds like you've wandered into the Stepford theme park. Your observations are spot-on. On “evil” TV: I watched the world's WORST television when I was a kid–Gilligan's Island, I Dream of Jeannie, That Girl, Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, and My Mother the Car are among the more silly ones to which I will admit (on others, I plead the fifth). I watched cartoons endlessly on Saturdays. What did I become? A writer. As for breastfeeding, the first of my four kids was the most difficult (I remember trying to get him to latch on when he was a few days old, with my Italian mother hovering anxiously over me, saying, “Do you know what you're doing? Do you think he's getting enough to eat? I just don't want him to STARVE.”) It really did get better after the first few weeks. My younger sister never breastfed at all, and her two children were fine and healthy. You are doing an incredible job! Just remember, these little ones are built to survive (and, by the way, my kids all watched Sesame Street. I became especially fond of Snuffleupagus myself)–Joan McMillan

  3. And the other thing about TV…
    YOU need the break sometimes. If you can get your kid to calm down for anything in the early months, anything at all that will allow you to have at least some thought space to yourself for fifteen minutes, DO IT.
    Putting your kid in front of the TV for a half an hour may be the best thing for him, if you're too tired/stressed/whatever. Don't feel bad about it, either.
    TV can't be any worse for him than anything else when he's less than 3 months and doesn't interact/play with anything yet.

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