We live in an affordable middle-class neighbourhood. By 'affordable' I mean 'low-end.' Most of the houses are bungalows, built post-war. A few have been turned into two-storey houses. There are lots of stay-at-home-mothers in my neighbourhood because families can afford to live here with just one professional income. But there are also lots of two-income families, empty-nesters and retirees.
I'm pretty well-known in my neighbourhood. We play in the front yard a lot, we are frequently at the local playgrounds and green spaces and I take my children out for walks and bike-rides multiple times daily. I guess you say we are 'high profile' but only because we are around all the time.
But even though everyone seems to know 'of' me, I am really on the outside looking in. I'm fine with that. I chose this life--Parenting against the Mainstream--and I accept that it makes me left out of the dominant culture in which I reside. I don't stand around the playground with the moms who are complaining about their babies STILL not sleeping through the night. I'm not behind the school with the moms who can't express enough their RELIEF that their youngest is finally in kindergarten. I don't fit in with them, and I don't WANT to fit in.
But from my place on the outside I certainly have an interesting perspective. Here are some questions that I would love to ask some of my mainstream neighbours.
1. Does getting married mean that the wife must give the control of her uterus over to her husband?
There are three different mothers in my neighbourhood who have told me that they would LOVE to have a third baby but their husbands say absolutely not. And there is another mother who is obviously overwhelmed by her two children and she can hardly organize getting one kid to school and one to pre-school (although she doesn't have a job), yet her husband is all gung-ho to have a huge family and so they're expecting a third baby this fall. I don't get it. The decision to have more children should be agreed upon by both parents.
2. Why do you call yourself a 'stay-at-home mom' if all you ever do is run around?
There are mothers on my street who drive by my house 6 times a day. Sometimes with their kids, sometimes not. In fact, I once asked one of my neighbours (a mother of 3) whether she would like to stay home if her husband could provide for the family. She said, "Oh, I'd love to quit my job. But I could never sit around at home all day with the kids. I'd take courses and go to the gym." I don't get it.
Well, actually, I do understand that not all mothers are content to be home with their children. There are some people who are genuinely able to be better parents in just 4 hours a day than they would if they were with their kids for 14 hours daily. But I don't understand all the running around--to activities, to the school, to daycare, to the grocery store (every day!?). I guess I just don't have a 'car mentality'. And I guess that for me, the value of being home with my kids is that I'm not always dropping them off at different locations.
3. If you are constantly fighting with the school system, then why do you send your children to school?
Yeah, this really confuses me. We live in one of the best places in the world to homeschool--the laws protect us and there are resources widely available. Why would parents fight with the school about everything from homework to vending machines to bullying to playground equipment when they could just keep their kids out of school?
4. Are you completely unaware of all the mainstream parenting advice in every mainstream media?
All three of the mainstream publications I read (Maclean's magazine, The Toronto Star and Today's Parent Magazine) are full of advice for mainstream parents, not to mention the advice people get from their doctors and what they see on TV ads. So for example, parents are constantly being told how to prevent/fix childhood obesity: walk to school, spend time outdoors, have more family activities like biking, etc. Yet there are many, many parents in my neighbourhood who always drive their children to school (less than 300 meters). And the children never play in their yards. And the parents never take them to the playground. Do these parents think that the school provides adequate physical activity? Not even close.
And here's another piece of mainstream advice you've probably heard about: babies need 'tummy time' to prevent their heads from getting a flat spot. Well, those of us who use carriers and who don't leave our babies in carseats for 8+ hours daily don't have to worry about that problem. Yet in spite of all the warnings, I see parents whose babies spend hours and hours in strollers (the kind that hold the carseat) and guess what? Their babies have flat heads!
How is it possible that the mainstream media with the mainstream advice for mainstream parents is not getting through to these parents?
OK, that's it. End of rant.
I'll be more positive tomorrow.