When becoming a new parent, there are a myriad of decisions to make. Breastfeed or bottle feed? Circumcise or don’t circumcise? (Parents of girls, you dodged a REAL bullet there). What type of stroller should I get? A “jogger” even though I have no real intention of jogging with my baby, ever? Or a double stroller, so that I can plan for a second child, or possibly pick up hitchhikers?
Am I really supposed to save the placenta? Really??
But, there is one question that trumps them all. The big question. What type of mom am I going to be? What is my “philosophy” of parenting? And here the stakes are higher. Sure, you can “un-circumcise” your kid (*note: I’m not totally sure you can actually do that. You maybe can’t do that). But you definitely cannot undo the deep psychological scars you will inflict on your child by choosing the wrong path when it comes to what type of mom you are going to be. Let’s review our options:
Tiger Mom: Westerners are total pussies. China knows this. The Tiger mother knows this. If you decide to be a Tiger mother you have to commit to supervising 12-16 hours of piano practice a day. The remaining hours can be spent on quantum physics, or, if your child is very young, advanced chemistry. Do not choose this route if you enjoy leisure activities such as eating or bathing. You will not have time for any of this.
Attachment Mom: You really want to bond with your child, which is unlike other regular parents who don’t care if they form an attachment with their child. Your child should be up in your grill at all times, ideally directly on you. If you forget to wear one item of clothing out of the house, it’s ok as long as it’s your pants. You better be wearing your child. Do not choose this philosophy if you cannot afford an Ergo and/or do not have the manual dexterity to fashion a woven wrap out of your own hair.
Oh, and then there’s this. This looks time consuming, so consider that when making your choice:
Helicopter Mom: You CANNOT afford to miss a detail of your child’s life. You are your child’s best advocate when doing so results in a higher grade on his report card. You love parent-teacher conferences! LOVE THEM! This may seem like an appealing option right now, as you hold your newborn and picture him at Yale. But try to realistically assess your stamina if you are considering going this route. If you are a true helicopter parent you have to commit to parent-teacher conferences through graduate school. Possibly even through post-doctoral programs. You will be REALLY OLD by then, especially if you are a mother of Advanced Maternal Age now. All you will want to do at that point is play some Keno and call it a day.
MILF: This is not so much your choice. Society will tell you if you get to be a MILF. If you’re not sure, just put your photo on Tinder and you will get decisive feedback. I’m not eligible for MILF-Hood due to my excessive use of sweatpants and the fact that I haven’t shaved my legs in a week.
Liger Mom: Hold the phone. There is a NEW CHOICE? A totally groundbreaking philosophy for me to consider!? Yes, there is. I just made it up so I know it’s a real thing. And it’s the Liger Mom. The Lazy Tiger, for those moms who have high hopes but low energy.
This option may appeal to you, as it did to me, because it combines my general notions of wanting success for my child with pervasive laziness. The Liger Mom understands that China is kicking our ass, but also really enjoys watching The Real Housewives of All the Cities, and therefore does not have time for enforcing piano practice. Also the Liger mother doesn’t remember anything about quantum physics. Liger moms produce Liger cubs, so if you are trying to decide if you would fit comfortably into this category of mom, you should check your offspring, as I did mine, for telltale signs that you already have a Liger cub on your hands.
I hate to say this, because he is my baby and the great love of my life (along with my husband Brian and cheese), but Nolan is lazy. I started to suspect he may be a Liger Cub, and me a Liger Mom, back during his stint in day care. One morning I heard day care provider Vanessa gently scolding a 3 year-old attendee for not confessing to having thrown up on the table. It was clear this little girl had thrown up because she was alone in the room and the sleeve of her sweater had obviously been dragged through a pool of vomit that was still lying on the table in front of her. She insisted that no, it wasn’t her! But it had to be her! Oh wait, no. It was actually my lazy little liger Nolan, who puked on the table over my shoulder, was too lazy to clean it up OR EVEN MENTION IT, and then had his friend framed. He was only caught because he was also too lazy to wipe the residual vomit from his mouth.
Nolan is also notoriously lazy when it comes to sending out personalized holiday cards. His cousins Luke and Abby always remember holiday cards, even on minor holidays like St. Patrick’s Day! Nolan usually forgets, or is shamed into card-making last minute when he remembers that his cousins are more thoughtful than he is. This is a telltale sign of a Liger Mom/Liger Cub combo.
If you are the mother of a Liger Cub you may notice excessive sloth, and pervasive lack of ambition when it comes to the physical realm. While Nolan watches his peers roll around, grasping at objects and intimating crawling, he simply remains on his back, half-assedly pedaling his woman legs. Legs that need to change soon if he wants to avoid me buying his clothes at Lane Bryant.
For my part, I feel at home as a Liger Mother. Sure I casually encourage things like tummy time and eating pea purees. But do I lose my shit if Nolan flails himself out of tummy time, determined to stick to his lethargy? Hell no! And what of it if he refuses a little pea puree? It’s disgusting!
My plan is to do what good mothers have been doing for years and years, before we were asked to choose a “philosophy” instead of just being moms. I’m going to send my kid outside to play, give him space to explore and try things for himself, and encourage him where I can. Then I will hope for the best. And also probably take him to piano and swimming lessons every week. Let’s not get too crazy here. China is kicking our ass, remember?
(This post first ran at A Mothership Down.)