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Parental anxiety — and that darned magazine cover The ridiculous photo is about making American moms feel guilty

Parental anxiety — and that darned magazine cover The ridiculous photo is about making American moms feel guilty

After days of”percolating” over the controversial cover on the recent news magazine…I found John Kass’ brilliant article in the Sunday Chicago Tribune.  John Kass says it better than anything I have read to date…Enjoy…and if you do not read John Kass..today would be the day to start.

John Kass

May 13, 2012 

“That ridiculous Mother’s Day cover on the-periodical-that-shall-not-be-named — the one with a mom breast-feedingthat rather large almost 4-year-old with teeth — is yet another sign of American decline.

Someday, when we’re just another bleak province of Greater China, riding our bicycles to work at the Apple computer factory, a few of us might remember it.

But for the present, the ridiculous cover is about making American moms feel guilty. And it has American dads wondering, fearfully: What will that stupid magazine do forFather’s Day?

Moms (and dads) are continually wondering if they’re doing the right thing by the kids. And there’s one thing about anxious human beings. They’re susceptible to schemes from get-rich-quick hustlers, infomercial pitchmen like that ShamWow guy, politicians, child experts and cynical magazine editors.

Should “good moms” let their babies fend for themselves, tossing a bottle of formula at the infant, allowing the child to cry piteously and grope for the bottle in the dark, since that which does not kill them makes them stronger?

Or should the “good mom” breast-feed her children until the kid applies for a mortgage?

Just buy the book or magazine, pay the experts and they’ll tell you.

A new mom I know works full time, and after a few months maternity leave, she’d take periodic trips to the lactation room at work. This lasted several months, and finally she succumbed to formula.

The succumbing led to endless and needless bouts of guilt and anxiety, but she’s a great mom and she’s much better now, thank God.

“I used to be jealous if another woman was more successful than me or was thinner or whatever, but the worst was when you’d open the refrigerator in the lactation room and see that another woman had left full bottles,” she said.

I kept silent.

“Full bottles,” she said. “I really hated her.”

You mean to tell me there’s a lactation room?

“Yes,” she said. “You didn’t know that?”

Oh, yeah, sure, I said. I knew that.

There is one way new moms can avoid purchasing that stupid magazine and end the anxiety while also saving money on the child expert stuff.

Just ask grandma.

As most new moms know, the opinions of grandmas are relentlessly free.

Breast-feeding? It’s all about the teeth,” said a grandma I know. “Once a child grows teeth, it’s time to stop breast-feeding. Be serious.”

Whether a toddler should be forced to hunt for her food with a spear or be carried on a mom’s shoulder and breast-fed until graduate school are subjects beyond my pay grade. And fathers should beware lest they step into rhetorical quicksand because if you say something stupid now you might never be allowed to forget it. Ever.

As a dad myself, I’d tell new dads to shut up and let the mom come to the decision on her own. My wife had the same guilt and anxiety, but kids have been known to crawl around eating handfuls of dirt from the house plants and still they prosper, so they won’t suffer if they’re on formula.

Your wife knows what to do. She’s already got enough hassles. Leave the poor woman alone.

The odd thing is that I barely remember those first two years after our kids were born, most likely due to an undiscovered gene in a father’s brain that allows him to forget stuff.

Like the time around Mother’s Day when our kids got sick, sitting in their highchairs, and began to throw up, and I ran bravely from the kitchen, saying “I can’t! I can’t” and leaving my wife to deal with it.

I don’t remember anything, but I am reminded of it by She-Who-Remembers-All.

“One time our daughter woke us up in the middle of the night and she wasn’t feeling well and she puked all over me,” said one dad. “That’s when you start realizing you’re a parent.”

So some dads are heroic when it comes to throw-up and others are sniveling cowards, but either way, when it comes to breast-feeding, men shouldn’t say a word.

One new father I know told me what happened shortly after his wife gave birth to their baby.

“When the baby was born my wife went to one of those breast-feeding meetings at the hospital,” said the guy. “They make you feel guilty if you don’t nurse. And one kid was about 6 years old. You wonder what’ll happen to that kid.”

You really don’t have to wonder. It’s possible that the first-grade breast-feeder with sharp teeth will grow up to be just fine.

But it’s also quite possible that years from now, his photograph will appear in news accounts and he’ll be identified by his full name (first, middle and last) after having grown up to become a psycho.

The best thing that dads can do is be low-key and do what wolves do. A wolf brings the rabbits to the cave. That’s what I suggest. Keep bringing the rabbits to the mouth of the cave, and do what you’re told.

And memorize “Goodnight Moon” and deal with the Diaper Genie when she asks and if the kids throw up and you run away, at least apologize later.

And don’t forget the flowers.

Happy Mother’s Day.

jskass@tribune.com

Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune