Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mothering Guilt

Because I don't have a picture of myself breastfeeding...
Last week, Time Magazine gave the women of the world the best Mother’s Day present ever: an abundance of guilt. 

Thanks, Time, but I’m good. 

First, I must admit that for the past five years I’ve anticipated mother’s day much like the underdog anticipates a dodge ball game.   With much wincing and squinting.  Something about all the hooray regarding the great mothers of the world always left me feeling wholly inadequate. 

So when Time Magazine, picturing a perky young mom on its cover breastfeeding her three-year old son, asked, “Are You Mom Enough?” I wanted to overnight express a newborn into the sole care of their male editor. 

Who asks the mothers of the world THAT question on THEIR day?  Seriously?

Just a couple weeks ago, I decided I was an okay mom because I wasn’t barbequing any of my children in tanning beds.  That lasted approximately 12 hours before a handful of our children decided the futon in our basement made for a better teeter totter.  And before those same children boycotted the flushing of the downstairs’ toilet.  And finally, before my youngest offspring thought microwaving a nickel might be fun.

Four years ago, Dr. Phil said sleeping with your children was wrong.  At the time, I was a single mother with a three-year old boy edging me out of bed.  Conclusion?  I was a horrible mother with no thought for my child’s future wellbeing.  Now, after taking great pains to kick aforementioned child out of my bed (i.e. I got married), I am, once again, a horrible mother with no thought for my child’s future wellbeing. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I have no problem with attachment parenting as it’s described within the pages of Time Magazine.  I also have no issue with Dr. Sears promoting extended breastfeeding, the family bed and babywearing; in fact, I wish I could stuff all my children into a giant fannypack every time I take them grocery shopping. 

I just don’t want to be made to feel guilty because I have chosen to parent differently.

So my final question is, can I regift the guilt you gave me last week for Mother’s Day, Time?

If so, I’ll definitely be giving it to my children.  Because as far as parenting techniques go, I’m pretty good with guilt.

In conclusion, I’ve decided the only thing constant in life is that my children will always want to microwave nickels, and I will always want to write about it. 

And to all you mothers in the greater Idaho Falls area, that is my gift to you.  Because really, don’t you all feel better about yourselves after reading my column? 

You’re welcome!

The Crab Whisperer

Because I have enough mammals currently living in my home, there is a freeze on acquiring any additional hairy pets.  So when my daughter decided that she wanted to buy an ‘animal’ with her birthday money this year, her choice was between the turtles and hermit crabs. 

The turtles were out of her price range.

I mistakenly assumed that crustaceans, unlike old cats and wet dogs, would not smell.  And maybe it’s not the crabs that smell, but their food.  Either way, it took an entire weekend for me to realize that I have zero tolerance for all pets, crustaceans included, except those cooked up in my own womb.

First crab lesson of the day: they live in a crabitat which is, in our case, a small travel tote with a purple lid.  I was surprised to discover that not all hermit crabs are created equal.  Leah purchased two, and while one is friendly and serene, the other is an angry pincher that nearly gave my daughter a blood blister his first day at the Belknap home (How we decided this crab was male I will never know).

“Can we take him back to PetCo and ask for a hermit crab that doesn’t pinch?” my daughter asked.

“Uhm.  I don’t think the return policy covers pinching crabs, Sweetie,” I replied.  “In fact, I think they expect their crabs to pinch.”

Pinchers, as we so lovingly call him, was initially unhappy in his new digs.  In fact, each time I cleaned his cage, he would tear it apart like a rock star trashing his hotel room.  The water dish would get overturned before being dragged to the other side of the cage, holes would be dug throughout, all the extra shells would be moved and sometimes buried before the pesky thing would sit defiantly atop Sunny, the hermit crab with, according to Leah, an equally sunny disposition. 

After some time, Pinchers seemed to acclimate to his new environment.  What I didn’t realize is that he was slowly slipping into a crab funk, or crusdepression.  He stopped trashing his crabitat and, instead, buried himself deep into the sand, refusing to come out.  Leah thought he was dead, and while I explained that he was probably molting, she mourned her supposed loss more than once.  Turns out he was neither dead nor molting—he was simply sulking.

But I didn’t realize how bad things had become until yesterday, when I heard a loud pop at the kitchen counter.  There, by the crabitat, lay Pinchers, who had somehow managed to climb up the side of his tote and through the small opening in the lid before throwing himself from atop the cage to the counter: Pinchers had attempted crabicide.

Luckily his shell broke the fall, and I was able to return him to his cage unharmed, but I couldn’t help but feel bad that Pinchers appeared to be so forlorn.  Should we travel to the beach where we can release him back to his natural habitat?  Should I talk with the good people at PetCo and see what measures can be taken to improve his well being? 

And then I realized that I was worrying about a hermit crab for which there would be no therapy nor Prozac.  So I did the best next thing, and I cut up a hot dog and put it in his cage. 

Just call me the Crab Whisperer.