When did the scales tip?

A bit of background first.

I've always been considered by a lot of the people I know, friends, relatives, colleagues, to be a bit weird.

I decided early on that I wanted to breast feed Toots. Now that didn't work out and it still annoys me a little, but at the time my friends all thought I was a little strange. Why would I want to breast feed when formula was so good and so convenient. Umm, convenient, scrub, sterilise, rinse, measure, lose bloody count and start the whole faff all over again, I don't think so.

Even when I spent a full week luxuriating in hospital after having Toots a few of the midwives mentioned that they spend a lot of their time almost convincing women to give breast feeding a go. Nobody wanted to bother even trying.

Then there were the nappies. I wanted to use washables. I ended up going with the Motherease pre-shaped birth to toddler nappies (best nappies in the known galaxy btw) and again everyone thought I was a bit odd. They talked about how difficult it must be to use the nappies and what a headache it must be to clean them, like I was still having to schlep them down to the stream and beat them off a rock or something.

Even my own mother refused to see the point in them or respect my choice to use them, until one night about 11 weeks in I was tired and finally allowed her to keep Toots over night as the husband was away on business. My mum arrived at my house at 8.00pm, both Toots and her in floods of tears and completely inconsolable. My mum said she'd tried everything, the child just wouldn't stop crying and she sounded in pain. Thanks to a pampers nappy very kindly removing a layer of skin from the child's backside, my mum finally came round to my way of thinking regarding the washable nappies.

Then came the toy issue. I spent about two years feeling as though I had to justify the choices I made about toys for Toots. I knitted a lot of her soft toys mostly because shop bought ones come in pastel shades and babies in general aren't wild about the pastels. Then I moved on to wooden toys, blocks, little train sets that kind of thing and everyone wanted to know why a woman who practically lives in the next century as far as gadgets are concerned didn't have a toy room like a Tomy testing facility. I didn't see the point. I hated "one button wonder" toys.

I didn't want to watch my daughter's play time turn into a cycle of push button, make noise, push button, make noise, it just seemed....boring.

Again, my mum was my biggest competition. My point of view was that we didn't have electronic toys growing up and we turned out fine, my brother is one of the funniest and most charming people I know. He switches his mobile off so that his "face to face" conversations aren't interrupted. He knows how to disconnect.

My mum's opinion was that we didn't have those toys because we were poor and she was stuck with the thought that "poor kids don't have good toys".

I eventually gave up justifying my decisions and choices after about two years, merely stating that I preferred that Toots had to think about a toy and be imaginative and creative if anyone questioned those choices. I just didn't feel like explaining my reasoning anymore. Occasionally when I really couldn't be bothered I just said I liked the colour so I bought it.

The thing is, Toots had a play date during the week. We spent the afternoon at the play cafe where Toots ran circles around kids much older than her. I swear that kid is fast and agile, it was like watching the SAS duck and dive through all the obstacles and up to the top of a three storey climbing frame before hurling herself down a huge slide. The kid also has no fear, but I have enough for both of us so it kind of balances out.

After leaving the play cafe, the kids weren't quite ready to say goodbye yet, so we agreed that she could go to her friend's house for an hour but then we would have to go home.

On a related note her friend has been to our house a couple of times and played with all of Toots toys and really seemed to enjoy himself. His granny told me later that he had went home asking if he could have a set of poi, but after his mum googled to find out what they are she said no, because she felt they were too dangerous, which is fair enough I get that, but Toots has been using them so long she's really getting very good with them.

Anyway, we were having a cup of coffee and watching the kids play. I was only really half listening when I phased back into the conversation (I am a fab house guest) only to find what I was hearing all too familiar. She was justifying, almost apologising really about the toys her son owned. She explained that he wouldn't have half of them except they were all given to him by an older (spoiled, her words) cousin. He had electric guitars, a handful of leap pad learning systems, a Wii (Christmas present) amongst literally dozens of other toys and those ware just the ones downstairs. His bedroom is, by all accounts, completely filled with similar toys. She went on to say that the toys wouldn't be her first choice but at the same time she didn't want to turn down the very generous gifts from her brother. She actually seemed embarrased by the sheer amount of toys we were surrounded by.

My question is, did the scales finally tip in favour of parents who chose to buy their children less commercial toys, opting instead for more old fashioned or traditional toys or do all parents alike feel the need to justify ourselves, regardless of the end decision?

Are we just never really sure if we've made the right choice?


  1. Motherhood GUILT! - It comes with the placenta I reckon, but stays around forever.

    Everything we do as mums we feel we have to justify and explain our reasons, and we still beat ourselves up about the choices.

    On the topic of toys I love toys without batteries, and requested my brother-in-law when asked for toy suggestions for something without them.....he bought my daughter a xylophone! - no batteries to run out EVER, no way to turn down the volume!

    When the batteries run out on toys here I am very slow to replace them, and the kids often play with the same toys in a different way, and often forget they ever did make noises and have flashing lights.

  2. ^^ had to google "poi" too. Also: "faff", "nappy"...

    I think that what the other mum was expressing was a form of "white man's guilt". Society has conditions us (people) to be hyper-conscious of differences and in particular socio-economic advantages to the point where we feel the need to acknowledge and defend our situation (think how my wife is constantly prefacing everything with how lucky she feels to be a SAHM - because not everyone can afford to do so).

    I agree with the first commenter that she probably also felt "Mommy guilt". She felt embarrassed by her plethora of toys, and felt the need to explain that she wasn't spoiling her son.

    We wanted to be anti-battery, and for the first 10 months or so we were reasonably successful (one notable exception is a musical toy that we bought for my nephew that my sister passed on - it's hard to explain but basically it had five items that each had a "spot" - based on size - and depending on which ones were in place the musical voices would add/subtract). Then one day we decided that denying the fun our daughter was having with other people's electronic toys wasn't fair to her, and that as long as not everything was "one button", we'd be OK.

  3. We have a balance of electric and non-electric toys. Kat's favorite toy for the last 18 months has been LiteBrite, which has a battery operated light bulb. She occasionally is allowed to play video games (we have PS2, nothing newer). But she also has had great fun recently with a stick that is the perfect size for a cane for her (she pretends she's Dr. House) and probably her favorite "toys" are her crayons, markers and paper. In addition to letting her have few battery-op toys, we also try not to get her too many toys with licensed characters (Dora, Spongebob, Disney characters, etc.) The more generic, the better, IMO.

    Also, I didn't breastfeed when I had my daughter(had no desire to try despite it being healthier) but I did use cloth diapers. I figured, I wouldn't want to wear paper underwear so why would I put it on my baby?


Your comments make me smile. I love that you stopped by.