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REVISITING MY SCARLET LETTER
In my rummaging I came across a post I wrote back in November of 2014 in which I admitted that in my parenting heyday I would have fit the description of an Artisanal Parent (for that description see post from 11/4/2014, "Artisanal Parenthood?"), another term someone thought up to malign contemporary parents who are just trying to raise their children, and to add to the already sizable compilation of purported bad-parenting styles, such as helicopter parenting, attachment parenting, free range parenting, tiger mothering, snow plow parenting (which feeds the need to plow all obstacles out of one's child's way), permissive parenting, authoritarian parenting, and including a classification I made up just for myself: Saran Wrap parenting. A Saran Wrap parent is one who sticks to their kids like Saran Wrap. That was me. My kids were always trying to peel me off.
MY SCARLET LETTER
It's just occurred to me who this elusive artisanal parent, censured by psychologists and mocked by parodists, actually is.
It's me. I'm the original artisanal parent. I must confess. I’m the prototype.
Had the current parental labeling system been in place when I was on the child-raising circuit I probably would have had to walk about wearing a big scarlet "A" for "Artisanal Parent".
I breastfed (and breastfed and breastfed) my babies, picked them up whenever they cried, co-slept with them and carried them until they weighed almost as much as me.
I memorized all the current baby and child care books and could tell you how many rocks per minute were the ideal when rocking a baby to sleep. My mother thought I was nuts. A lot of people thought I was nuts.
I learned how to cook and bake from scratch, sewed clothes, drapes, slipcovers, Halloween costumes and doll clothes and crocheted blankets, scarves and hats.
I was a thoroughly disreputable housekeeper and cleaner. I still am.
I put on classical music and Broadway show tunes for my children to listen to. I didn’t bother with potty training, assuming they’d figure it out by the time they entered college. (They all did).
We had no television. Which is probably a story in and of itself
My children all started music lessons before they started school,
I was a totally hands-on parent, a hybrid of attachment parent, helicopter parent, snowplow parent, tea cup parent, and tiger mom, and I was always up in my kids’ business. ‘Way up.
For which I suffered as much approbation as a modern-day Hester Prynne.
Teachers would croon over what a pleasure it was to have my children in their class then lecture me on how I had to stop being a such a smother mother. (I made up that word but that's what they meant).
My children’s music teachers would comment on how pleasant, cooperative and mature my children were during their lessons then chide me for hauling their instruments and music around for them.
Other parents would joke that they were going to send their children to live with me so they
could learn how to behave then tsk that I was perniciously over-protective when I wouldn’t I let my kids do what they allowed their kids to do.
But the fact was that I often didn’t allow my kids do what everyone else was doing. It was my philosophy that kids didn’t need to see and do it all before they reached puberty.
Sometimes I concluded that people thought that my kids were great but that I sucked.
But the thing is, I truly did embrace parenting as a career, and one that I wanted to excel at. Between graduating from college and becoming a parent I had worked as a telemarketer, youth activities director, crafts instructor, interior designer’s assistant, art therapist, historical archivist, and senior citizen’s lunch program director, but it wasn’t until I became a parent that I felt I’d found my true calling.
I remember once being at a play date with several other stay-at-home moms. The subject of work came up and the others talked about how they planned to go back to work when the children entered pre-school or kindergarten or first grade. And all the while I was thinking, not me, girlfriends, I hope to be set for life right here!
But of course being a stay-at-home artisanal parent, while it may be a calling, isn’t in truth a career, as I learned as my chicks one by one flew the nest. I began teaching piano lessons. And writing.
But on my heart I still wear my scarlet letter.