Taboo?

So, I was thinking the other day about taboo things amongst mommies–at least in the circles I’ve been in. I’ve been fortunate to make friends and aquaintances in several different venues…church Bible study, family, college friends, friends we’ve at the parks (indoor and outdoor), etc. It’s so easy to strike up a conversation with another mom of young kids. Seriously, just talking about pregnancy, labor & delivery, the trials of newborns and potty-training can provide weeks of conversation fodder with a new friend. But eventually, certain topics come up, and I find myself treading very carefully.

You see, as progressive and open-minded as we modern moms like to think we are, we have all made our own decisions about parenting, and it’s easy to think that whatever we did is “right.” It’s hard not to judge when another family/parent chooses another path.

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There are some topics that, thankfully, I’ve noticed a lot of grace given. Two very hot topics are breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding and working mom vs. staying-at-home mom. For myself, personally, experience has torn down my walls of judgement on these 2 issues. I know from firsthand experience that these decisions are elaborately complex. I will spare you the details, because I know that some of my readers are not interested in those details, but for me, nursing (both times) was outrageously difficult at the beginning. I managed to stick with it, but I will never judge a mom again for choosing not to continue. Don’t even get me started on the working mom vs. stay-at-home thing. This choice is so multi-layered and conditional on every family, every job, every woman, every husband, every child…I just feel blessed to have a situation that works pretty well for us and I hope for other moms that they can find the right fit for them as well.

BUT wait! There’s more! How’s your baby sleeping? Do you let her cry it out? Is she sleeping through the night? Do you wait in your toddler’s room until he’s asleep? Do you let a newborn sleep in your bed? Condescending eyes peep out at you all over this one–and from opposite sides! Co-sleepers think that “cry it out” parents are harsh and heartless. “Cry it out” parents think that co-sleepers are lazy and dangerous. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.

Oh! I hadn’t even thought about spanking! This one is a lightning rod for passionate debate. Then there’s the kinds of food you let your child eat. Fruit snacks? Chips? French fries? Organic, whole-wheat, farm fresh, cage free, hormone-free, gluten-free? And have you ever met this mother: “Oh, Jimmy hasn’t seen that show. We don’t allow our kids to watch television in accordance with the AMA’s recent finding that TV rots their brains,”? I have. It wasn’t pretty. But neither was the scene when we saw parents bringing a 3 year old to the Bourne Ultimatum. See? I do it too. Judge, judge, judge. Call me Judy.

Normally, I just avoid all these topics (as well as politics, as you may have noticed) at all costs. I usually want to be Switzerland. (nuetral)

Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about a seasonal taboo: Santa Claus. Especially in Christian circles, which I run in a lot, there’s multiple levels of affection or loathing for the Santa tradition. We now have a kiddo who is soaking up everything he hears and sees, paying close attention to what is important to us. SO, we think it’s time to figure out how we present the Christmas season. Which, by the way, my husband LOVES. He frequently says in JUNE..”I can’t WAIT for Christmas!” We want it to be fun and exciting and thrilling…and meaningful.

For us, the bottom line is that Christmas is about Christ. First and foremost, we are celebrating Christ and his birth. We’ve already established that part of our tradition will now be to have a birthday cake for Jesus. Carson was sold on that idea very quickly. We have been talking as a couple and with our extended family about how to make sure this remains our focus. So, for the sake of argument, let’s assume we are able to achieve that.

However, I do believe there is room for fun, trivial side of Christmas–including Santa! I’m curious to hear from others about Christmas traditions in your family. Are you die-hards, telling the kids in July that they’d better be good? Is he an afterthought? Do the kids get presents from you AND from him? Stockings? Are you worried they’ll be crushed when they find discover the truth? Do also share how you strike a balance, but please spare me the lecture me that Santa can also be spelled Satan. Save it for your own blog. I want to hear some fun traditions from your family–either when you were growing up or things you do now with young kids. Let’s share stories and HOLD OFF on the judgement for a while. 🙂

11 Comments

  1. Love this post. So true about moms. We want to believe we are doing the right thing and anyone who does something different must be wrong.

    RE: Christmas–With John we neither perpetuate Santa nor do we leave him out. We kind of let John believe what he wants to about Santa. We leave out cookies on Christmas Eve and we fill stockings “from Santa.” We talk about what presents Santa might bring him. But that’s it. Maybe we’re lazy parents, but we’ve never gotten into the idea of leaving carrots for the reindeer, mailing a Christmas list, threatening John’s bad behavior with “no gifts from Santa, etc. John believes Santa brings gifts, but on Christmas morning, he couldn’t care less who left the gifts under the tree, as long as they are for him and he gets to open them right away. 🙂 And even though he believes that Santa fills his stocking, he also knows that mommy fills daddy’s stocking. So, he’s probably very confused about Santa’s role at Christmas. 😉 Nevertheless, he rarely talks about Santa. When I ask him what Christmas is all about he says “Jesus’s birthday.” Since he knows that, I don’t really care one way or another how he feels about Santa.

    Hey, I’m surprised you didn’t address this issue at Halloween. Now that’s a HOT topic among Christians. 😉

  2. We do Jesus AND Santa at Christmas. We even sprinkle reindeer food on the lawn on Christmas Eve (a mixture of oats & Glitter) and leave milk and cookies for Santa. But our kids know Christmas is all about Jesus…like you, we do the birthday cake and sing happy birthday and We have nativity scenes and read lots of Christmas books.
    We don’t tell our kids that Santa brings you gifts depending on whether you are good or bad. They just know that Santa will bring them one gift.
    I do however throughout the year when I hear shouts of “mommy I really want that!”, will reply…..”put it on your list for Christmas/Santa.

    I think like breastfeeding or bottlefeeding, staying at home vs. working…Santa is a family choice. I don’t think I care either way what other Christian families decide to do or not do.

    But I do know we have fun with it….and it’s fun to share traditions. Great idea to get the conversation started and to see what other people do 😉

  3. We are a lot like Alli. We don’t push it but we don’t shy away from it. We sit on Santa’s lap and read books about Santa, but we don’t make lists (that’s more about my personal vendetta against greed than anything!) and we don’t sign gifts from Santa.

    Theo was in kindergarten when he announced that they whole Santa thing couldn’t be real. But now he’s on the “inside” and loves it–and loves being a keeper of the secret. Alexa is talking more about Santa this year, so we’ll see if she assigns her stocking gifts from Santa or not–we don’t put tags on those.

    So we’re sort middle of the road, and taking it one day at a time. We’ll see what this year brings.

  4. Someone forgot to tell my Father in Law that breastfeeding is not only a taboo topic, but also very personal. He decided to guilt me about not breastfeeding at our father’s day cleebration in front of our whole family. This was the day after i came home from the hospital with Gavin. Fun times. Maybe i will refer him to this blog-post. -Kel 🙂

  5. I can’t believe “Anonymous” didn’t breastfeed!

    Totally kidding! I agree that mom’s can be so harsh and judgemental. Everyone’s situations are SO different.

    Its so funny, because I’ve been conflicted on how to juggle/not juggle the whole Santa and real meaning of Christmas deal. And just tonight, I came across a kid’s book (had no idea we had it!)called “Santa’s Favorite Story”. In it, Santa admits that Christmas doesn’t have anything to do with him and goes on to tell the story of the very first Christmas–the whole story of the birth of Christ. At the end, the animals he’s telling it to all say how silly it is that they used to think Christmas is all about the presents. It ends with them helping Santa get ready to deliver all the presents on Christmas day. It makes both the birth of Christ and the presents exciting. Probably meant for more Luke’s age, but Tatum really liked it and sat through the whole thing. I’m sure Carson would like it too.

  6. Love it!:) You know, I find that most moms who are “judgmental” have just never experienced a set back or challenge (YET). It’s not so much that they mean to be uppity, but they just can’t fathom any other way to do it (like not breastfeeding) until they’re the ones experiencing a child who can’t/won’t nurse, having their supply randomly dry up, or getting one infection after another that forces them to alter their plans a little. (sorry for any males reading this) I nursed both my girls, but not nearly as long as I planned. I thought I was a faiure when it didn’t work out! I tried everything suggested by my doctors, La Leche League, and even lacatation consultants. After doctor visits, magazine articles, and online research I was frustrated. I refused to give up until I was forced to. Elisha went to formula around 5 months and Eva at 8. Come to find out I’m in one of those less than 5% categories of women who randomly stop producing. I spent hour upon hour trying to fix my situation only to have zero results. It was stressful, emotional, and in the end completely unproductive. I wish I could’ve relayed THAT to the moms! Does that mean I won’t try again this time around? No. But it means I won’t be so hard on myself when some things are out of my control. That said, I felt much judgment from moms (who don’t even have to say a word but just give you “the look”) when I’d whip out a bottle. I felt sad because they didn’t know that if it was in my power to change it, I would! I felt like I needed to defend myself and launch into the history of it all just so they’d know I was a good mom in their eyes.:) Much grace comes from “failure” as it were, and I am so much more understanding of a mom’s struggles as I’ve now had my own experiences. And even if in the end I disagree with another mom’s choices (from t.v. viewing to food choices), it really doesn’t matter, does it? She has her own kids and I have mine and we’re each doing what we can and feel is best. Thanks for reminding us of that, even if you ARE Switzerland.:)

  7. Not sure I should comment on a post with so many “feminine” topics. The Santa thing strikes a chord though.

    I like your spirit of “share, don’t judge” so this is simply my experience…

    I basically enjoyed both sides of the Santa thing. My mom was honest with me about it being pretend, but also kept it going. To this day she still gives me gifts from “Santa” and I’ve been able to enjoy all the fun movies over the years. I always knew it wasn’t real, but was something fun to pretend and we enjoyed that together.

    Sarah and I are having a tough time deciding how to handle this one with Ethan and Abby. I think she had the experience of truly believing so we have to figure out what we want together now.

    Good luck! (P.S. – I suppose there’s always the fact that kids are resilient and will generally be fine…in other words I’m not sure you can genuinely mess this one up, but you can let us know in 10 years!)

  8. sorry, forgot to mention one more thing…

    My mom is from Germany where they celebrate “Saint Nicklaus” day so she also told me the historical version of “Santa” which is a great story and we celebrated that with a small gift early in December each year.

  9. I think that there is a great balance you can achieve with Christmas. My family always celebrated the sacred first and us kids knew that Christ was what Christmas was about. But Santa still came to our house! The spirit of giving is a great concept and giving kids a little magic is exciting and fun (in my opinion). I wasn’t disappointed when I found out about Santa – I remember thinking, “Huh. Well, that makes sense!” My parents told me about who Saint Nicholas really was and the tradition he started and we contintue to get gifts from Santa as adults. What has gotten me thinking lately is that I don’t want my kids being the 4 year olds telling all the other kids that Santa isn’t real and his parents told him so. ACK! Of course, I respect all parents decisions to do what they want for their kids. Even Jim and I have made some compromises (he didn’t really grow up believing). I don’t see the harm in it b/c it never scarred me!

  10. This post sparked a very interesting conversation between Teddy and I. Christmas isn’t as commercialized in France as it is here in the states. There the holiday’s are more about family than Christ or Santa.

    Since I didn’t experience very many traditions in my home, I am eager to develop traditions for my kids. The jury is still out on Santa tho.

    We don’t mention him much, but not because we’re against him. Mostly because we’re still trying to find our way.

    The beauty of it all is that slowly, over time, your traditions routed in rich family experiences, will take on meanings all their own–not to take attention away from the true meaning, which is Christ’s birth– and help form deep connections to our past as well.

  11. So I’m a little late on this post (doin’ my monthly blog-reading, you know) … but just wanted to chime in.

    I mostly share Lisa & Jen’s sentiment’s … but something pretty unexpected happened when we had Zoe. The girl is too smart for her own good fun, I tell you. She was probably 3 when she started questioning the notion of Santa. And what were we to do? Bold-faced lie to our daughter – who would eventually find out the truth, and then question everything we’d told her since then!? (okay, so maybe I exaggerate slightly) … Anyway, we would just kind of play with the idea at first (as in, “I don’t knooooowww … what do YOU think?!”), but we quickly realized it would be more enjoyable for us all if we told her the truth.

    Fun stuff!

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