I thought I’d never encounter another community as gleefully contentious on an endless cornucopia of issues as the City of Berkeley.
I was wrong.
Town v. Gown’s got nothing on Breast v. Bottle. And who knew that how you put your baby to sleep was an unabashed declaration of politics, parenting philosophy, outlook on life, mettle, and presence or absence of soul?
“Attachment Parenting (AP)” = respond respond respond to baby’s crying ‘til you’re blue in the face, even if it doesn’t stop him or her from crying. “Cry It Out (CIO)” = Close the nursery door and let ‘em cry ‘til they drop.
Tom Bates? Attachment Parenting. Shirley Dean? Cry It Out for sure.
And naturally, the parenting world has its own library of private-cliquesque acronyms—AP, CIO, SAHM (Stay At Home Mom), WM (Working Mom), DS/DD/DH (Darling Daughter/Son/Husband), BF (breastfeeding). Just to keep outsiders in their place, lonely and clueless outside our kingdom of wisdom—like all acronyms!
When my husband and I had our first baby (and probably Only—er, another rabid debate, don’t get me started) five and a half months ago, we little dreamed we were entering a tribal war zone. But war zone it is—of vision, philosophy, words, and purchase choices.
In fact, the World of Parenting lines up pretty closely with the People’s Republic of Berkeley:
SAHM v. WM? Town v. Gown.
Cloth diapers v. disposable? Paper cups v. Styrofoam.
AP v. CIO? Homeless advocates v. business community.
Breastmilk v. formula? Organic gardens and sustainable development v. supermarkets and chain stores.
Public school v. private school v. homeschooling? Cars v. bikes v. pedestrians.
And the militant moms and pushy poppas are just as passionate about their views—and smug about the wrongness of others—as the creek savers, People’s Park protectors, and pro-business bullies. Breastinistas preach at formula feeders. SAHMoms bewail the cruelty of WMoms. CIO practitioners shake their heads at AP ‘coddling’.
So just as Berkeley’s civil wars let Telegraph Avenue and South Berkeley deteriorate and cars without parking spaces engulf the city, so it is in the parenting world—as parents fire one-liners at each other in the Craigslist parenting forum and trash the sincerely thought-through choices of other parents, all the while we have no paid maternity leave, no universal health care for children, and a bill authorizing pre-school for all four-year olds takes a nose dive.
Can’t we all just get along??
Say it with me, people: Unity! United we stand—or divided we will fall... and bicker... and choke on our breastmilk lattes in Styrofoam bottles being couriered through car-clogged Berkeley streets by diaper-wearing homeless cyclists...
Sonja Fitz is a BFing WM who sometimes SAH and always lets her DH CIO.