This week, I had a crunchy parenting failure and a crunchy parenting triumph; I’m hoping they more than cancel each other out, but I suppose it’s too soon to say. First, I broke down and bought a (gently used) exersaucer; Joey wants nothing more in the world, these days, than to be bounced and bounced and bounced and held standing and then bounced, and at some point my poor arms and his dad’s are just plumb tuckered out. I plan to hide it when we have company. For now, though, he seems to love rocking out in the thing while I sit in a chair beside him and work, or stand in view and do dishes, or what have you.
And, uh, we’ve started doing cloth diapers.
I am (perhaps obviously) NOT hardcore—we’re still using disposable wipes, we’ll still put him into a disposable diaper at night—we’re basically doing cloth part time. But if I give them their cold soak myself before giving them a hot wash in the machine, it’s not as expensive as it might be, and I’m really glad to be (mostly) making the switch. Funny thing is, I’m the only one who’s surprised that I’ve decided to switch over; when I told the Mister, he rolled his eyes and said “Well, it’s not like I didn’t see this one coming.” When I found myself protesting that I’m not that crunchy because “he has some plastic toys!”—well, I’m not sure there’s any digging yourself out at that point. Next step: cloth wipes.
There’s an argument I watch play out on the internet every so often:
Adoptive parents: We are only human; we get divorces, we decide that our family is complete with one child, we move, we change our plans. Parenting is different in practice than in theory.
Birth parents: We placed our children on the understanding that they would have better lives than we could ever give them, so you had damned well better do whatever you can to give them the perfect childhood.
And both sides make pretty good sense to me. In our own situation, we talked three years ago (!) about Ruth and Nora’s plans: Ruth would stay at home, they would cosleep and baby wear, and Ruth was planning to breastfeed. That’s not quite how things turned out; Cricket spent a lot of time in his stroller, slept alone in his crib, drank formula only (and only from a bottle), and started daycare before he was two. At the same time, it was clear that his moms were making what they thought were the best choices for him—they just ended up changing their plans as they experienced parenthood and Cricket, just like every other parent does. Then Joey was born, and they sent us a baby gift of parenting books (which are . . . somewhere . . . and unread), and now they’re sort of in the position that Mr. Book and I have been for two and a half years. We’ve already had to make some of the same sorts of changes—I wanted to do homemade baby food, but Joey hated it, so we went with a mix of organic commercial stuff and little bits of real food right from the start; I never thought I would end up cloth diapering (it seemed like such a nightmare); we’re starting to put him down to sleep by himself and join him later at night, which makes me feel incredibly guilty but has meant more sleep for all three of us—but we’re making different specific changes, and I wonder what it’s like for Ruth and Nora to watch and judge us. Because of course they’ll judge our parenting; I think that happens from both sides in most adoptions, and in good adoptions, it’s tempered with compassion, understanding, and love.