Sunday, February 18, 2007

Are drive-bys universal?

I was surprised and happy to see a recent upsurge in site visits from Australia, and most of them were coming from a post on an Australian baby issues website called Essential Baby. The poster there had not heard of the term "mommy drive by" (or "mummy drive by" in the case of Australia!], and I started to wonder to what extent drive-bys are an American phenomenon?

A quick look through some of the forum headings on Essential Baby made it clear that some of the same debates are the same in Australia—there was an EXTREMELY long thread on breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, for example—but I am sure there are many other issues that are culturally specific.

By the same token, maybe giving and receiving advice is viewed differently in different places? Or maybe it's done in a different way?

For example, I've read that in Norway, breastfeeding rates are extremely high. Does that eliminate the breast vs. bottle debate—because if you are formula feeding, the assumption would be that there must be a clear reason? Or might the debate be even more heated—because the assumption is that almost everyone else can do it? Or maybe unsolicited advice is delivered and/or received in a different spirit than it seems to be in the US?

This question of culturally-specific drive-bys is related to another post I've been meaning to write—the recent furor over whether or it's OK for moms to have what's known as a "cocktail playdate" [a group of moms get together and have a drink or two while their kids are playing.] For readers outside the US, you may be surprised to learn that this is even an issue.

So what's your take on the cultural-specificity of drive-bys? Are they mainly an American thing? If not, what are the hot-button issues in other places?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Drive by in my heart

I'm sure I've committed at least a few inadvertent drive-bys—saying something that the other person thought was a drive by, even if I hadn’t meant it to be. But I’m pretty sure I haven’t purposely made a drive by comment.

This past week, however, I’ve committed a few drive bys in my heart (to borrow an expression from Jimmy Carter.)

Let’s see, there was . . .

—the mother who thought the threat of sleeping outside the house was an appropriate possible punishment for a six year old.

—the mother who brought her two year old to preschool wearing high-heeled mules (on the kid, not the mother. And the heels were only an inch or so, but the kid is 2!!)

—the mother whose excessive use of baby talk made my skin crawl.

And probably a few others.

I try to be open-minded about most parenting issues, and even when I disagree, I usually know enough to keep my mouth shut. I try to follow a "whatever works for your family" philosophy.

But I've been tempted to speak up more in this past week than I can ever remember having been tempted before.

So far, so good, but I fear someone will be submitting a story about me soon—and if they do, I will post it.

How about you? Have you ever wanted to make a drive by comment? Were you able to stop yourself? If so, how? If not, why did you speak up? How did you feel afterward?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mommy Wars

I haven't had a chance to read Mommy Wars yet, but I was intrigued by the book review on Blogging Baby. The author, Leslie Morgan Steiner, is a writer and an executive with The Washington Post. Having seen the battles between working moms and stay-at-home moms, she wanted to provide an opportunity for women who had made each of these choices to talk about their decisions and the costs and benefits of each path.

In her review, Kristin Scott notes that the "women come from all walks: married, single, career-driven, adamant in their belief that staying at home is the best. But rather than warring, these women are simply explaining their own choices, their own path to motherhood and the rocky road following. There is only one commonality between all the essays: no choice is perfect, each decision has its sacrifices."

I was particularly interested in this excerpt Kirstin Scott quoted from one of the essays . . .
No wonder every woman who has made a different choice seems like an enemy. What if you are right? What if I am wrong? What if in working we are damaging our children by being absent and preoccupied? What if by staying home we are sacrificing our independence and our ability to financially take care of our children and hurting them in another way. And so we fight.
You can read her entire review here.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Not really a drive by, just amazingly insensitive

I read this story at Julia's Here Be Hippogriffs blog. I've had enough dealings with insensitive doctors and nurses to sympathize, but it was still startling to read about her experience.

She had to have a D&C becuase of fetal death, and the following is the lovely exchange she had with the person who handled her admission (as she wrote in her post For Fear Of Repeating Myself) . . .
"Date of your last menstrual period?" she asked.

"Ummmmm...." . . .

"As best as you can recall," she assured me.

"July 3rd."


"I wish *I* hadn't had MY period since July!" she continued, just in case I had somehow misunderstood.

There was a pause during which I contemplated the ceiling and wondered if I was the first dead-fetus-carrying woman in history to be so enthusiastically envied the temporary suspension of her menses.

"You know... all that blood."

Yeah. I know. All that blood.

I am still laughing about it. I like the absurd.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Drive By of the Day — September 27, 2006

Over at Pump Mom, Pumping Mom wrote about her first drive by with her youngest son. In her post My first Darth D. mommy drive-by, she describes an encounter in a grocery store:
I took David with me to the supermarket yesterday. While waiting in line, an old (bitch) lady next to me looked down at David, and said very loudly,

"Your mother must be starving you!"

My husband offered that maybe she was trying to be sarcastic, to sound funny, and it came out wrong. Because David is over the 95th percentile for his age in size and weight. There is a reason why we call him Little Piggy.

But still, WHAT THE HELL?

Monday, September 25, 2006

When is a drive by OK?

I've linked to this post before—The Funny Little Universe at Tied to the Tracks. I've already posted an except from her description of receiving a drive by, but earlier in the same post, she talked about a situation where she wished she had spoken up and didn't. I've been in similar situations (although none quite so awful), and I sympathize with her dilema. Do you speak up? If you do, will it help? How do you distinguish between a drive by and necessary intervention—especially when some people are willing to claim, for example, that allowing a baby to cry it out is a form of abuse?

Here is an excerpt from her story . . .
I agree that parental drive-bys are the ultimate in poor manners, and I try to keep my opinions to myself. And yet, I draw the line at public child abuse, and will, in cases where a child is being abused, speak up. I have done this only twice in my life, and both times were highly traumatic for all parties involved, but they aren't the situations that come back to haunt me. What I think about a lot is the time I did not speak up, and should have.

When she was six, my daughter broke her wrist jumping off a tree stump at day camp. We ended up in pediatric orthopedic care at the University of Michigan's hospital so she could be xrayed. We were just hanging out there in the xray suite waiting our turn to talk to the doctor before we went to the cast room. There were three examination tables in this particular room, one empty, one ours, and on the third one, next to us, a little girl maybe ten years old. She had an elaborate cast on her left arm, the kind that has a metal bar to hold it in a particular position. There were xrays on the wall light box and I could see she had three pins in the bone of her upper arm. This was, in other words, a damn serious break.

Her father was with her. A guy maybe thirty five. Well dressed, middle class. And hissing at her like a snake. I can call it up with perfect clarity all these years later. It went like this: don't you cry don't you dare cry you baby you sniveling baby you can't get away with that with me maybe your mother puts up with it the bitch but not with me. shut up shut up shut up. And it never stopped for the ten minutes we were in that room together.

The girl was weeping, tears running down her face in a steady stream, her whole body shaking. And I said nothing. Why? How could I not tell him to SHUT THE FUCK UP and leave the kid alone? I wanted to.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Drive by of the day — September 19, 2006

This drive by was posted by Beth in the comment section of the Annie Get Your Gun post at Sarcastic Journalist. It's a great example of the "birthing choice"-genre of drive-bys—and from someone who might be expected to know a bit more about birth complications.

But I'm glad Beth had a quick response. . .
. . . my birth instructor had the nerve to tell me that if I had Kyle at home there would not have been any complications and that somehow because I had him at a hospital that I was less of a woman. Mind you, I had a c-section because Kyle was trapped with his head crooked at the top of my birth canal. So I say to her, “No. Really? I could have had him at home without complications? I guess if you do not consider death a complication, I could have.”