Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mater Sanctimonious be gone! Arise Libertarimum!

I’ve finally worked it out. The sanctimonious Green Sues (Kedgely and Bradford) are actually superheroes in disguise! During the day, they go by the innocent name(s) of Sue and Sue.... but, under their innocent smiles, they are really....... SANCTIMUMMY!!!! (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=sanctimommy). Ready to terrorising you like no one has ever terrorised you before. Sadly, they have a devoted following.

Sanctimummy instinctively (after reading many books) knows how I should raise my children, and is specifically knowledgeable on what foods they should eat (soy, soy, and soy, and ban sugar), what toys they should be allowed to play with (plastic is carcinogenic); how I should conceive (full moon, basal temperature charts), and how I should give birth (no pain relief, in water, in backyard, with friends and family singing songs, and wait until the full moon), and what I did wrong (lucked the conception(s), birthed in hospital with epidural(s), actually didn't really want my husband there trying to talk to me but didn't have the heart to tell him to be quiet so faked falling asleep, and emergency c-section(s)).

The best part about Sanctimummy is that she is always ready to share her wisdom with the rest of us.  She doesn't hesitate to point out the deficiencies of your parenting practices (read: how your parenting choices differ from hers).  She doesn’t hesitate to make dire predictions about what the future holds for your children ("You give him a dummy/sweets/chocolates/cigarettes/cows milk/cellphone?  You know he's never going to be able to [any affliction here]").  She never hesitates to bemoan your lack of understanding of the key issues of childrearing, letting you know that you are not as "educated" or as “eco” as she is.

My personal observation on the behaviour of other wanna-be Sanctimummies in their natural habitat is that they tend to suffer overwhelmingly from ostentatious "sadness".  They are so "sad" for you that you don't do everything their way.  They are so "sad" for your children that you are not parenting the way they prescribe.  They are just so "sad" that everyone in the world does not recognize their incredible superiority and their expert status on every aspect of parenting at every age. It’s so very “disappointing”, too.

Sanctimummy has lots of all purpose rules for parenting.  No need to tailor your parenting choices to the personality and needs of the individual child.  All childbirth should be unmedicated; all children should be breastfed for the prescribed amount of time (ideally finishing by mutual agreement when the child is old enough to enter into appropriate discussions), all children should be carried, every child should sleep in the family bed.  There’s a rule for every behaviour and every situation.

Despite her apparent self assurance, Sanctimummy needs constant validation and she intends to get it from you.  Your parenting choices serve as the perfect foil for sanctimummy since she can criticise them and you.

Sanctimummy is quick to take offense. In fact, she is always sure that she is not respected by those who don’t make the same choices.  And she is sure that she is being persecuted.  Mothers who don't agree with her are accused of interfering with her choices even if you have no interest in her choices at all.

Fundamentally, Sanctimummy cannot abide uncertainty, and if there ever was a job fraught with uncertainty it is motherhood.  It is difficult to get feedback on job performance from children.  Children live in the moment, are overwhelmed with their own needs, and don't take the long view.

Children don't tell you whether being allowed in the parental bed promotes security or inability to manage separation.  They don't tell you whether limiting television is crucial to wellbeing or merely an affectation that has no impact on them.  They don't thank you for discipline and they don't applaud your performance.  In fact, it often turns out that your best moments as a mother were the ones that they appeared, at the time, to hate the most.

All mothers must cope with this uncertainty, but some are more challenged than others.  The particularly militant Steiner school near me makes me wonder if there is an over-representation of the eco variety of Sanctimummy in Kapiti.  Sanctimummies deal with uncertainty by pretending that it doesn't exist.  They adopt all purpose rules for parenting and insist that following them demonstrates unequivocally that they are doing the right thing (and, inevitably, if you don’t agree, you are wrong).

And because they are so insecure, they cannot resist interrogating other mothers and demeaning their choices.

1. Had an epidural?  Too bad you gave in to the pain and medicalised the birth; the doctors don’t know what’s good for women and you fell for their lies.

2. Stopped breastfeeding before age 4 (or 5 or 6)?  How sad that you didn’t try hard enough.

3.  Your children’s food is not 100% organic?  How unfortunate that you don’t care enough about your children to serve the very best; your children will get cancer now.

4.  Let your child cry it out at night?  You’re an uncaring parent.

5.  Don’t let your child cry it out at night?  Your child is going to develop an unhealthy Freudian personality.

6.  Send your child to daycare/kindy?  Why did you have children if you aren’t going to be there for them?

7.  Don’t send your child to daycare/kindy?  You’re depriving them of important socialisation skills.

Ironically, Santimummy's choices don't necessarily reflect what is best for her children.  They don't reflect the fact that children are individual human beings with individual needs and desires.  There is no one-size-fits-all parenting formula, and pretending that there is ignores the specific needs of a specific child.  Sancitmummy's choices are all about her, her need for reassurance and her inability to tolerate uncertainty.

I want to feel sorry for her, but the only words that seem to emerge from my lips are NAFF OFF!!  How mature of me.  And, honestly, I feel a little bad for saying it.  Being a mother is a hard job.  Mothers get flack from both sides and it’s impossible to swim through all the well-meaning advice sometimes.  And the competition and cliques can be destroying.  But the Sanctimummy seems to have a particular skill in categorising people as “bad mother”, and I resent that.  While I may not prescribe to your style of parenting, doesn’t mean I think you’re doing a bad job.  It goes both ways.  Why don’t you do your thing, and I’ll do mine?  (“Oh, but think of the CHILDREN!!!!!  They are our FUTURE!!!”  “Naff off.”)

Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join 'em.  I am hereby creating a new superheroine.  The mummy who has decided to enjoy her time with her kids, who doesn’t care what other people think, who will not read a single parenting book, who will freely distribute plastic toys that possibly even make noises, whose primary goal for her children is that they are fed, watered, and happy, and who chooses her children's extra-curriculum activities based on what the child wants.  This amazing woman will be known as ....... LIBERTARIMUM!!!! (Now I want to change my blog name. Dammit!)


Lindsay said...

Brilliant. You have moved me to a confession. I breastfed one till she was four - years not months!! Not because of the urgings of earth mother La Leche obsessives, but because she just wouldn't give up and I didn't have the heart to reject her. Eventually I weaned her onto the only other drink she would have. Coke. Cheers, Sanctimmumies.

Sus said...

Bravo OM! "Sanctimummy" is a fabulous term and I congratulate you for it.

(Which naturally now allows me to shamelessly use it, too!)

Was alerted to your blog via the lovely Oswald. I look forward to reading more ... :)

Opinionated Mummy said...

Thanks. Sadly, Sanctimummy is not an original word - I have provided the link to prevent any plagiarism accusations - but it seems to be in widespread use in the US, so I think it's time to bring it to NZ.

I'm hoping Libertarimum is more original.... and catchy.

Anonymous said...

I read your blog for the first time and was impressed, keep it up.

Sus said...

Yes, I'd gathered it would have emanated from the US even before I saw the link. I'm afraid 'mommy' always drove me nuts over there .. the drawl more than anything, to be honest. (And if that makes me a miserable sod, or in any way obnoxious, tough!).

So in light of that, I excuse you from any whisper of plagiarism. 'Sanctimummy' belongs to you in my eyes! :)

Anonymous said...

I think many of us walk a fine line between wanting to know what’s going on in the world, and being sorry we ever asked. I am no fan of caesarean deliveries, and I’m not one to hide my feelings on the matter either. Science and evidence are on my side, and I know it. Get rid of the epidural, and you probably won’t need the caesarean (they r bad news). Seriously. That’s what worked for me.
I'm a small woman who birthed a 10 lb baby after the doctors said I never could. Doctors love caesareans. Very sad. If people only knew how their cesareans played out like scripted screenplays, they might feel cheated and lied to. The Business of Being Born did an excellent job of creating a cartoon out of this all-too-common situation. Everyone thinks their caesarean was “necessary” and an “emergency” when in reality so few of them really are. I want people to know this. I want to help them avoid this. My intentions are pure – but you know what they say about Intentions and that Paved Road to Hell… The truth is, I can’t help it. I have always felt some unshakeable urge to convince others of my argument, especially that which I am passionate about, even if it may not be the appropriate time or place for such an exchange.

Opinionated Mummy said...

What the???? Are you being serious? Sorry - I've read your response several times and I'm not sure if I'm suffering from an irony deficiency or if you are a Sanctimummy.

Opinionated Mummy said...

Not that it matters if you are serious or not - that was the point of my blog. I respect your decision to not have a c section, and I'm sure you respect my decisions that, like you, I make with the best of intentions. Sometimes those intentions may be what's best for my children rather than me, but that's my decision to make.

Anonymous said...

I am serious. its people like you who medicalise basic things. Womyn have been having babies since the beginning of time. Its a natural process that has been bought out by the medical profession and turned into a scary event complete with drugs and unnecessary surgery. THeres research to prove that epidurals cause autism. You may laugh at me now but just wait and see what happens to your children in a few years time.

u give the imprssion inyour blogs that you love them but all you are thinking of is yourself. yes birth hurts but with the right support it can be an incredible experience. I feel really sad for you that you choose to make it a clinical experience.

We need to take the doctors out of birth and give it back to the women.

I don't like your blog at all. Its people like you who make our healthcare so expensive.

Opinionated Mummy said...

Oh lordy. There's a live one here tonight.

I'm going to publish your comments, but only because you are proving my point - possibly more effectively than I did.

Thank you for providing a live Sanctimummy example for others to enjoy and learn from. I deeply respect your selflessness.

Lindsay said...

"Womyn have been having babies since the beginning of time. Its a natural process that has been bought out by the medical profession and turned into a scary event complete with drugs and unnecessary surgery."

And the infant mortality rate has subsequently nosedived. You are free to express and follow your own beliefs but the nastiness and foreboding in yur comments is creepy. Are you well?

Anonymous said...

I fear for your children, Opinionated Mummy. They are too young to know what is in their best interests and you are forcing the views of doctors on them. There is a lot of research on the dangers of epidurals. Im guessing you also vaccinate, feed your children processed foods, and let them play with unnatural products. I would like to contact you to explain to you how you can give your children a better start in their lives. Can you please send me your contact details? I don't know how to contact you through your site.

Opinionated Mummy said...

Anonymous @ 7.47am, even though I'm wondering if you and your children have crazy names, I would like to close this discussion now. You are exactly the exasperating sort of person I was highlighting in my blog.

Oswald Bastable said...

You got your first Moonbat!

Opinionated Mummy said...

Haha Os! Didn't take me long! It's one of 'those' subjects. Shame I can't eliminate with your Dalek through my blog. Oooh that sounds dodgy - it's not meant to!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lucy said...

The trouble with parenting books is that the baby hasnt read them

Melissa @ The Best Nest said...

I have to swear. I'm sorry but this post and the comments from anony-hippy are fucking fantastic. I am deeply envious that your writing is FABULOUS enough to attract loonies. It really is quite a compliment.