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Mixing the Old With the New

Why turning into your mother may not be a (completely) bad thing.

Somehow babies bring out our inner-traditionalist. You know what I’m talking about: you’ve protested outside furriers, pierced or tattooed half your body, worn black for the last two decades, espoused sweeping social change and rejected everything your parents taught you—but once your bundle of joy arrives, you notice a startling new you emerging. Suddenly you are more risk averse, you look at your baby’s beautiful body and cannot imagine it altered with ink, you buy baby clothes you’d formerly dismiss as saccharine and conformist, and then, one day, you find your parents’ words coming out of your mouth! Are you doomed to become everything you despised?

More unsolicited advice from the Gayby Boom:

So, out with the old and in with the new? Not necessary! Becoming a parent means all kinds of new things in your life, including an attraction to toys from your youth, safety seats and Dr. Seuss. Accept your new tendencies, without rejecting the old ways out of hand.

Make those long hours you pace your living room with a crying baby a time for reflection. While you endlessly sing the three songs you remember from Girl Scout camp or Sesame Street, examine your lifestyle and imagine the changes to come with a baby on board. An urge to memorize the American Songbook or the entire works of Raffi is not necessarily a bad thing.

Share your new found attraction to keeping one parent at home, plastic toys, archaic nursery rhymes, safe neighborhoods, air bags, Labradors and Sunday School with your partner—she may be experiencing similar thoughts, or be able to snap you out of it.

Embrace the teeter-totter within, balancing new beliefs with old, tradition with rebellion, social radical with economic conservative, but keep espousing to a minimum while the dust settles, lest you lose your social network. Nothing upsets your milieu like a sudden change of mindset, and your child-free friends will think you’ve gone mad.

Reconsider your parents; were they, perhaps, right about a few things? Do you bundle your baby up when it’s cold outside, watch for cars when crossing the street and try to feed Junior a balanced diet? Does it turn out your partner’s mom has the perfect method to cure colic? This can be a good time to make peace with your parents and take advantage of their experience. You don’t have to take ALL their advice. 

Remember that your obsession with vehicle safety ratings, scrap-booking, knitting baby booties and pastels will fade as your child grows into a rebellious toddler, an outrageous three-year-old and a four-year-old wise enough to give you advice. When sleep-deprivation abates, sanity returns, and your obsessions will shift to school choices, baseball versus soccer and managing the carpool schedule.

Note: Sunday School doesn’t have to mean neckties, skirts and Bible study; there is a wealth of options for parents seeking religious education as opposed to indoctrination. Shop around. And if you try it out, you aren’t committed for life (or eternity).

Parents can wear black. Babies can, too! You can embrace your traditional urges while keeping your edge by decorating the detritus of parenting life with your signature look. 

Hint: Don’t panic if you suddenly don’t care as much about appearances, coolness, an edgy lifestyle or the latest in Goth apparel. This is part of parenthood. You have more important things (and people) to care about.

 

Blogger Bio: Beren deMotier is a Carol Brady in Levis/tattooed lesbian mama in a mini-van, obsessed with safety, doing the right thing and the amount of dog hair on her wood floors. She is a regular contributor to both Curve and Black Lamb, and has written for Hip Mama, And Baby, Pride Parenting, ehow.com, and for her blog, “That Lesbian Mom Next Door.” Her multi-award-winning book, The Brides of March: Memoir of a Same-Sex Marriage, recounts her giddy leap through a legal window, straight onto the barbeque pit of public debate when she and her partner married in Oregon in 2004, their three children along for the raucous ride. (berendemotier.com)