Friday, November 16, 2007

What's the book about anyway?

Since several people have asked that very question and I rarely can accurately answer in brief, here's the Table of Contents and the Preface...and oh yeah, it's 330 pages!

Pregnancy and Birth
1. Pregnancy: Month by Month, Inside and Out
2. When Birth Doesn’t Go As Planned
3. Epilogue (Reflections on My Birthing Experience)

Newborn (0-3 Months)
4.Newborn Care
5.Breast-feed Your Baby
6.The Family Bed Controversy
8.Virtues of Cloth Diapering
9.“Your Life Is About to Change Forever”

Full-On Baby! (4-11 months)
10.The Baby Gender-Coding Phenomenon
11.Battling Isolation
12.Going Back to Work
13.Thrifty Mama
14.First Foods

1 Year Old
15.Toddler Chomps
16.Discipline Notes: Setting Up a “Yes” Environment for a Free Child
17.Cutting the Cord
18.Organizing Cooperative Childcare
19.Never Join the “MOPS”

2 Years Old
20.The Great TV Debate
22.The Gender-Coding War Continues
23.Moving From Home: Building Community Takes Time
24.Touring with Tots
25. Weaning Epilogue: Confessions of an Unweaner

3 Years Old
26.A Typical Day with My Preschooler
27.Organizing Childcare for the FTAA Protests
28.Who Gives a Shit About Kids and Cursing?
29. Discipline Notes: Relationship Is Everything
30. Slave to Fashion, Part 1
31.Growing Up Punk: Interview with Angelina Drake

4 Years Old
32.Setting Up an Art Center
33.Punk Rock Kids Spring Break
34.Three Generations March for Choice
35.Dad Is Not the Babysitter!
36.Cofounding the Village Cooperative Skool
37.Mommy-Daughter Weekend Road Trip
38. Slave to Fashion, Part 2

5 Years Old
39.Guiding My Kid Through the Marketing Madness
40.Interview with Rocker Mamas Eileen and Rachael
41.Mommy’s Alone Time Starts on the Greyhound
42. Discipline Notes: Communication is #1
43.Playing Mamapalooza 2005
44.“Mom, I Wanna Go to Real School!”


Preface ....
When Maximum Rock N Roll (MRR) zine announced they were putting out a “punks having kids” theme issue, I didn’t hesitate to send in a little written something along with a picture of my newly protruding preggo belly. By the time that issue came out, my newborn Emma-Joy was with me and I couldn’t have devoured fast enough the words the other punks with kids had to offer.
In July 2000, I sent in my first column for MRR, titled My Mother Wears Combat Boots. My new mama friend Kaile gave me the idea for the title after I told her I’d chosen a “punk parent” theme for it, though I had free reign to write about any topic. Being a new parent, I couldn’t think about anything more immediate that I needed or wanted to write about. Ideally I thought, I’d be helping myself navigate these new mama waters by writing about it and at the same time, sharing experiences with and getting in touch with other punkparents. You know, building community.
In the first year, the column got me in touch with a slew of other parents through letters, email and phone calls, too. Some offered their words as column contributors. Due to requests from some others who didn’t get their hands on MRR as often as they’d liked, I compiled the first year’s worth of columns into zine format, putting it out as Yard Wide Yarns #8, the zine I’d been doing since 1993.
It was then in late 2001 that I first thought it would be great to some day write a book. My initial idea was to wait to compile what would be the “best of” the first 5 year’s worth of columns. In July 2005, when I sat down to sketch out an outline of what the book would and wouldn’t contain, the project started taking on a life of its own.
What you hold in your hands now contains very little original column writing. Maybe those columns make up just half the book’s skeleton. And two chapters, “Pregnancy: Month by Month, Inside and Out” and “When Birth Doesn’t Go As Planned” originally appeared in Clamor Magazine as a three part series in their first three issues; here they have been edited and updated from their original versions. The rest of the book is all new writing, carefully balancing personal anecdote, practical advice and political analysis.
The book itself is a dream come true. Once the opportunity to do it came, having worked hard to make a dream come true, I was scared of it. Scared enough to almost convince myself that it was too much for me, that I should just let it go. But then a different internal voice told me that if I didn’t take the opportunity to make a dream come true, I’d be a flat out loser.
So I started juggling. Finding the space and time to do it, between work and kid, between getting pregnant again, having a new baby in 2006, moving cross country, stealing away sleep time even after I’d hired a babysitter, I can’t believe I pulled it off. Though the book ends with Emma-Joy in kindergarten, I didn’t finish writing it until the new baby, Maya-Rae was 16 months old and Emma-Joy was seven, just finishing the 1st grade.
You hold here a journey. In many ways, writing a book was like being pregnant and giving birth all over again.
I sincerely hope this book will add to the generations of mama voices before mine and to my own generation’s collection of mama voices so that the new mamas and papas searching for ideas on “how to do it” will feel a bit of solidarity in the ranks. I hope it will serve as sort of an instruction manual, the one I searched for when I became a new mama but couldn’t find.
In the book, I’ve also set out to debunk some myths. Among them, that hospital birth is the only choice, that only “stay-at-home” moms can successfully breastfeed, that it takes a shit ton of money to have a child, the supermom myth, that it’s time to “settle down”, and that you can’t do certain things anymore (like go on tour with your band) once you have a kid.
And oh yeah, to remind you, too, that you have to keep your sense of humor.
Though this book is written from a partnered parenting perspective, it is not meant to exclude single parents, same-sex parents, step-parents, extra parents or any other nontraditional families. I hope you will be able to translate my standard language to fit your family type.
For those of you who are not mamas or papas yet, though NO amount of reading other’s stories of parenthood will prepare you for what parenthood is REALLY like, hopefully this book will show you that though your life certainly changes beyond comprehension, it doesn’t end. Quit the opposite. Life parenting a child is new and there’s never a dull moment. Though things do get tired and broken, it keeps changing, evolving, recreating meaning and redefining ideas. It’s the hardest thing ever and worth it. Read with an open mind, but not so open that you take everything in. Just take what resonates with you and leave the rest. Don’t subscribe to any one style. Be selective in learning about and developing your own style that fits you, your kid and your family. Recognize your privileges as well as your limitations, what your circumstances dictate that you have to work with and work with it! Parenting demands lots of responsibility and hard work, no matter hat you’ve got or don’t have, to do things as close to how you want and think they should be. Above all, think and make conscious choices instead of being purely reactionary and parent (or not parent as the case may more often be) the same way you were parented.
For those of you who are already parents, may you find solidarity in the ranks, that stories herein help you out like others’ stories have helped me. It’s always nice to know you’re not alone when you feel like truly you are, and with parenting, knowing you’re not alone is necessary. Be patient with yourself as much as you need to be with your kid; figuring out how parenting and ideals mesh together isn’t a no-brainer. It’s a rather large task to find the balance between your own and your kid’s desires and needs. Consider these comforting words from Erik W. Davis, a fellow parent on the anarchist parenting listserv, “Listen to yourself. Be brave about your doubts, but don’t punish yourself for some ideal of “perfect parenting.” There are no perfect parents, and the sooner we all realize that, the better we’ll actually be as real parents … Go for your ideals as hard as you can, but keep in mind that perfection is not possible, and kindness to yourself may occasionally mean not pursuing an ideal in favor of your own or your child’s best interests.” Shit happens and you will make mistakes. But don’t despair, kids get over it, the world doesn’t end and kids are forgiving, especially when you’ve established trust and a history of sincere apology when necessary. Learn from your mistakes and do better next time.
For those of you who haven’t yet decided if kids are for you or not, may you neither be scared away nor pulled in – the answer to your kid or no kid question can only be found by taking a look inward.
For those who have decided that kids are most definitely not for them, may this book give you insight into the world of the parents and kids in your life and community as well as courage to be an ally and recognize that supporting choice goes both ways, for those who’ve chosen not to become a parent and for those who have. And that as cliché as it sounds, it really does take a village to raise a child and you can be a part of that village-wide effort. You’ll benefit, too.
Parenting is living a life of daily revolution.


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