Attack of the Crones

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I’ve just been to the supermarket and someone I didn’t know came up to me and told me my baby was ugly. I was reeling from that whenever person stepped up and said that my little boy was a bit of a minger too. Moments later, a third person joined in and said it was no wonder the two of them were so ugly when I was their mother. Yes, I was the ugliest of them all.

OK, that didn’t really happen. In fact, strangers in the supermarket often go out of their way to tell me just how cute my children are. Then they give me unsolicited parenting advice, which is a whole other post. My point is that reading The Interweb this week has felt a bit like that – the Telegraph says my weaning method is ridiculous, the Independent mocks me for cuddling my baby and over at the Daily Fail, coven leader Liz Jones has unleashed another rant about older mothers on the grounds that they are older and…well, mothers. Apparently that’s all you need to fill a column nowadays.

Ah, Liz Jones. I have always held back from discussing her here, in case I contributed to the Daily Mail’s advertising revenue, but really…this woman needs some help of  some kind. Technically, I’m out of range for her latest as I had my first child in my 20s, but I’m also a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network, who were her target last time she forgot to take her pills. So I think it’s safe to say we’re a way off being BFFs. We do share a love of irony – she expresses it through calling other people “shrivelled” and “bitter” – but I probably wouldn’t use a national vantage point to scattergun abuse about like the guy on the bus who calls himself “Blader”. While subtly promoting teenage pregnancy. Hmm, that’s responsible. Is she just trying to ensure that the other Daily Mail writers will have things to rant about for years to come?

Basically, she hates all mums. The title of her latest article says she doesn’t but really, she does. She failed in her attempt to adopt a baby and now she’s set herself up as the anti-parenting police. Here’s a great idea guys – everyone just stop having babies. Listen to Liz! Parents are rubbish! So, let’s just stop. Sure, the human race will die out in a matter of years but given that this is a species that takes their advice from a Daily Mail columnist, I think we can agree that it would be a blessed relief.

That’s all I have to say on the subject of That Woman, for now. I actually meant to write a nice piece about Peppa Pig today, but this came out instead. In case you’re wondering what the photo of Eva at the top means, it isn’t her being an ugly baby. Oh no. It’s her Game Face. She too is Ready to Rumble.

Cause for Eva, listening to the journos means not getting cuddled and left to cry. She isn’t so keen on that idea.  But Rachel Waddilove – who has a great name but not such a great attitude – has looked after Gwyneth Paltrow’s baby Apple (now there’s a really silly name) and so She Knows Best. Any baby should be able to sleep through the night from a young age. Milk? Schmilk? They don’t need it….they’re just playing you. Teething pain? Let ’em deal with it themselves! It’s time for a return to Traditional Methods. As we all know, when our ancestors were living in the caves they stuck to a strict routine of babycare. Babies were bottle-fed at set intervals, according to the position of the sun in the sky and then placed in cribs made of bone, a la the Flintstones. If the babies cried, the CaveParents would simply move to another part of the cave and leave the baby to self-settle. Those CaveParents did not allow the baby to dictate their own feeding and napping schedule. CaveMummy had to get to the gym to get back to her pre-pregnancy shape, then she had a column to carve about her Parenting Journey before popping over to see Gwyneth Neandertrow to advise her on all the mistakes she was making with baby HunkOfMeat. Apparently she fashioned something out of animal hide to carry her baby around in. Stop that now Neandertrow! Put that baby back in the bone-crib before it gets needy.

You see… talking about “traditional methods” is all a little silly isn’t it? Calling co-sleeping and baby-carrying “fads” is a little silly too. Saying that breastfeeding is “great if you can do it” while illustrating the piece with an obviously tongue-tied baby is verging on the absurd. And let’s look at this bit of wildly conclusion-jumping:

“Earlier this month, findings of a study at Philadelphia University showed that waking at various points in the night is part of the natural developmental course. It found that by the age of six months, most babies woke once or twice in the night, with just six per cent of children waking every night by the age of three. The inference was that leaving a “signalling” (crying) baby to “self-soothe” or “cry it out” might be the most sensible response.”

Babies wake in the night – it’s natural. We all agree on that and now Philadelphia University have done a study to prove it. Ace. My friend did a study on the toilet habits of bears.  Wanna see it? How is that evidence that babies should then be left to cry themselves back to sleep? Surely if they’re stirring, the sensible thing to do is to give them a wee dram of warm milk while they’re still drowsy and they’ll go back to sleep. By the time they’re crying, that ship has sailed. Another paper released lately indicated that “self-soothing” was a myth anyway. So why are we still talking about it?

Is it yet another form of babies manipulating their parents? Like they’re clearly able to do? The Telegraph certainly thought so, with their article on Baby-Led Weaning, which suggested that children are able to “turn their noses up at food” and require “a finger food buffet for one”. These are 6-month-olds we’re talking about! They don’t turn their noses up at anything! Eva is 9 months now and she still eats from the bin, so exciting is this whole food thing to her. If someone was attacking my form of weaning for that – giving a child the skills and incentive to open the bin and extract her brother’s toast crusts – then I would say fair play. BLW has its disgusting downsides. But it’s never been about the baby playing power games. Your average 6-month-old when faced with a tray of food doesn’t think “urrrggghh…greens?! If I eat those, she’ll be on at me to eat them  for…like…forever. Better toss ’em now while I have the chance”. They just think “woooo! Funny tree thing! Is it food or a hat? I don’t know. Let’s try both!”

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The sheer flimsiness of the article can be clearly seen by the way the writer intermittently uses “baby”, “toddler” and “child”. Hang on, are we discussing babies or toddlers? Toddlers can be fussy but they don’t necessarily use emotional blackmail. But children can. Which age children are we talking about? Have you put any thought into this article? Have you even read the book on BLW? Did you write this while EastEnders was on? She’s the mother of 4-month-old twins, so I’d dismiss it as sleep-deprived drivel if it was on a blog. But a national newspaper has published this! Presumably someone along the line actually read the thing? Was it meant to illustrate the effect of sleep deprivation of journalism quality? That’s what maternity leave is for, surely.

Of course, if you’re me you waste your mat leave getting angry at other people. So I’m going to leave it there and spend some time with my charming, attached and slightly stinky daughter. If I can be serious for a second though – if you’re a Mum who’s in any way nervous, insecure or easily influenced PLEASE don’t let these bitter old women upset you. They are just wrong. Carry on doing what you’re doing, I’ll do what I’m doing and hopefully they’ll stop doing what they’re doing…

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30 Responses to Attack of the Crones

  1. I almost couldn’t read past the first paragraph because I was seething with rage on your behalf 🙂

    • katese11 says:

      Ha ha, hope that hasn’t put anyone else off! I’m pretty secure about my children’s looks, don’t worry….Their behaviour? Not so much…but their looks? Yes!

  2. Jay MG says:

    I’m glad I did read past the first paragraph because I’ve been snarfing and snorting into my tea every since. Fantastic, spot-on and perfect.

  3. sar says:

    This is just brilliant! So true! More than anything Liz Jones should not writ another word…. I wonder if she had Waddilove as a nanny as she sure is an insecure adult. 😦

  4. Iris says:

    The cave bit was hilarious!

  5. maria says:

    I’m with you, I will keep doing what I’m doing too Kate! Thanks for this, really heeded me up 😉

  6. maria says:

    *cheered!

  7. rdoll says:

    About the tongue tied baby photo; that was the first thing I thought too. BF tongue tied babies tend not to be the happiest campers. Alex used to cry for hours, probably because he was so damn hungry / worn out trying to feed! I feel so sad for that baby crying in that photo. 😦

    • katese11 says:

      It breaks your heart doesn’t it? Every time I look at that photo, I’m like “just get it snipped!” Please!

      • rdoll says:

        Yep! Also, why take a photo? Even in those early days of tongue-tie/colic/reflux and hours of endless crying, I never thought, you know what, let me leave you here whilst I go and get the camera… Such a sad photo.

      • katese11 says:

        And yet some parent out there did. And now it’s a go-to image for “unhappy baby”.Weird, huh? Are they the same parents who switched to formula because some maternity nurse they hired told them that “breastfeeding is great IF you can do it” and they assumed they just couldn’t? Wonder why your baby’s unhappy? Check his latch before spending on some expert! Oh the rage. And TT is def not a problem here – can’t get missy to put hers away. Like Reuben she sticks it out when she’s concentrating….

  8. ches says:

    OMG I hate bad science. x percent of children under five refuse at least one meal a day… That doesn’t mean they’re spoiled, fussy children, it means they weren’t bloody hungry. Obesity epidemic… coincidence? Argh!

  9. Jem says:

    LMAO. You’ve saved me the hassle of having a rant at inept journalists – this is fab.

  10. Laura says:

    Great post. I thought exactly the same re the tongue tie and the research about children waking in the night. That’s like saying research has shown that children will get a second set of teeth so the inference is they don’t need to take care of their milk teeth. It’s about as logical.

  11. Wow, just what I’ve been thinking all week. Thank you for articulating.

  12. mrsb33 says:

    This is just brilliant!! Often these articles are simply down to lazy journalism, but I have a theory that in general, mums who criticise other mums do so because they don’t feel confident in their own abilities to do the “right” thing for their children. Our own insecurities can lead us to feel that we’re being judged for how we feed/wean/sleep train etc. I really think that if we all had more confidence in our own abilities we wouldn’t care whether someone else purees whilst we BLW. Just because someone follows a different method to us doesn’t mean that they think we’re “doing it all wrong”. Or at least it shouldn’t! All these articles seem to do is try to feed our insecurities in order to make us feel like failures! not sure if I’m making sense but I explain it better in my latest post. I’d love your thoughts if you get a chance to check it out!

    http://mummykindness.com/2013/01/25/complimentary-thinking/

    • katese11 says:

      You make perfect sense! I’m a lot less judge-y on my second baby cause a) I’m more confident and b) I know that I don’t know it all this time! I’ll take a look at your blog when I’ve finished what I’m *actually* meant to be doing (i.e. not farting around on the interweb ;)). You’re a MN blogger too, aren’t you? Welcome to the network!

  13. Pingback: The Portfolio | Kate Milner's Online Portfolio

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