Sh*t (Fill-In-The-Demographic) Say videos on YouTube are somewhat addictive, aren't they?
My favorite ones are about parenthood.
A woman or a man (sometimes both) breezes through a series of seemingly random statements while doing ordinary, mundane things such as eating cereal or pushing a stroller or watching TV. The scenes are stitched together to produce a stereotypical representation of whatever demographic filled in the blank.
Formulaic, sure, but funny all the same.
A site search shows virtually every nationality, geographic location and parenting style represented. For all intents and purposes, it's about people laughing at themselves.
I've often mused if I were more skilled with video I'd make one of my own and call it: Sh*t My Kids Say, and it would consist entirely of a single word: “Mommy.”
There would be the whiney “Mahhhhm,” the bored “Mo-ahm,” the “MOM” that signals some kind of imagined emergency and of course, the “Mom” that is repeated over and over again because a response was not satisfactorily immediate.
There is also the Mom that is not meant for me at all … the one that is merely a pretend game between siblings about which my inquiry will provoke ire: “MOM!”
It drives me crazy enough that I find myself screaming: “The next person who yells 'Mom' better need the services of an emergency room doctor … or at the very least a Band-Aid.”
To which they always laugh, “Mah-em.”
I thought about all of this as TIME magazine's cover story touched off small fires in the ever-smoldering Mommy Wars last week with a provocative picture and a taunting hammer head, “Are You Mom Enough.”
I'm Mom too much, I chortled.
Seriously though, the TIME piece wondered why Attachment Parenting leads mothers to extremes: Baby wearing, extended breastfeeding (past the age of one) and co-sleeping.
The sparks that flew around the peanut gallery that is the ethosphere were pretty standard: People felt sorry for the three-year-old boy pictured standing on a chair, nursing at his mother's breast. They lamented the gaggle of coddled youngsters, whom, they believed would, no doubt, grow up to be horribly warped adults unable to detach from their mothers' apron strings.
I didn't take the bait.
Even though I was one of those mothers who wore her babies (it was easier for me than a stroller) and who allowed her children to self wean (one at two, the other a four) and who found co-sleeping helpful with one child but not the other (one slept better with us, the other slept better alone) I didn't rush into Twitterverse to defend my decisions or try to convert the disbelievers.
I didn't think what I was doing was a style, necessarily, I just thought of it as something that worked for me. And I can be honest: It was mostly about me.
“If Mama Isn't Happy, Nobody's Happy,” was my motto. Even wore it on a t-shirt.
Whether meeting their needs in infancy with minimal tears has made my children more secure in their understanding of their place in the world, I can't tell you. I wouldn't expect you'd believe me anyway if I thought it had. How can anyone make such a correlation?
I don't presume to think that the choice of a baby carrier or a stroller could determine a person's whole life outcome. Nor would I be willing to bet a child left to cry it out would be irreparably harmed.
Yet I wonder how we get sidetracked into this narrow media gauntlet time and time again.
Maybe it's easier to point fingers than ask questions. It's certainly easier to yell and rant and rave than it is to let go and assume people other than ourselves are doing their best.
Which, is probably why I can't keep myself from laughing when my son stops himself after his second “MOM!”
“I mean … Siobhan,” he says, addressing me in his big-boy voice and then going silent.
“You can't call her that,” Ittybit chastises her brother.
“But she hates when we call her Mom,” he responds, confused.
“No. She hates when you call her 'MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM' but never say anything else.”
As she usually does, Ittybit wants me to weigh in on the appropriateness of a child calling their mother by her first name.
“I honestly think I'm mom enough. You can call me by my first name sometimes so long as you aren't repeating it like a broken record.
“Like this: Siobhan Siobhan Siobhan siobhan shifawn shibong sifon,” he smiles with his best Sh*t Kids Say grin.
“I take that back. Maybe too much Mom is just enough.”
They just looked at me like they usually do: as if I'd grown another head.
I won't hold my breath waiting for the t-shirt.