You Be the Judge by JJ Keith
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My husband and I are self-reliant in that we provide for our family and keep our kids clean, safe, well-fed, and healthy, but we are only able to do so because we rely on a network of other people to help fill in for what we cannot do or are poor at doing, such as teaching phonics and filling cavities. This dependence is a fundamental aspect of participating in a society and having a community. Sometimes that may mean that we’re beleaguered by our obligations to other people, but that is the cost of the interdependence upon which the entire notion of society is based. Quick: Someone show me a family that just had a new baby so I can bring them some food. Will it be a pain in the ass? Maybe, but it’s a freaking amazing thing that we get to live in an interconnected world in which we can give and receive support as needed, and I’ll drink to that!
Even as conversations about parenting grow ever more divisive, they are still beneficial if they are indeed conversations. There’s a lot to sort out in this parenting business. But if we eschew the idea that what’s best for one is best for all, then actual conversations can be had. I was once in a room full of mothers and asked, “Did any of you circumcise your sons?” and I could palpably feel the air drain out of the room. But then one mom said, “Yes, we’re Jewish and I wanted the tradition.” Another said, “Yes, but I regretted it.” Another offered, “No, but I’m not sure if I did the right thing. I guess I’m leaving it up to him?” And yet another said, “No, I didn’t feel it was necessary.” We all kind of settled into how weirdly personal and complicated the issue was and managed to free ourselves from thinking that there’s one way to deal with a foreskin. It’s challenging because we all come from different backgrounds and carry different emotional, religious, philosophical, and marital baggage—but when we were true with our motivations and our feelings, there was no room to condemn anyone. In that room, we were all mothers dealing with the baby peens we had been dealt.
JJ Keith is a mom of two and the author of Motherhood Smotherhood: Fighting Back Against the Lactivists, Mompetitions, Germophobes, and So-Called Experts Who Are Driving Us Crazy (Skyhorse Publishing), from which the above is adapted with permission.