Mayim Bialik Goes Beyond “Blossom” To Attachment Parent In “Beyond the Sling”
posted by: Heather Ruch
Today, Mayim Bialik is a wife and mom of two with a BS in Hebrew and Jewish Studies and a PhD in Neuroscience, both from UCLA. Her PhD focuses on obsessive-compulsive disorder in adolescents.
Blossom has grown up and become a super genius PhD, attachment parent, homeschooling, vegan, crunchy earth mama who is also an author and makes her own shampoo. Oh, and she’s on that super-funny sitcom about super genius science geeks, The Big Bang Theory. Very cool. I mean, how many crunchy-granola mamas with a PhD in neuroscience get to be on a sitcom?
I did enjoy the movies Beaches decades ago but I was in college during the Blossom hey-day and never saw an episode, Ms. Bialik’s biggest media impression for me was her appearance on TLC’s What Not To Wear in the season seven opener. The show where they take the fashion challenged and turn them into easy-breeezy stylish babes.
In the before video, Ms. Bialik was caught on camera while strolling down the quaint shop-lined streets of L.A. wearing a flowy peasant skirt and wearing her baby. On that show, Ms. Bialik was articulate, funny, quirky, cute, and totally in love with her kids and now I totaly her!. I like to think her appearance on WNTW helped her get that little sparkle that led to her role on The Big Bang Theory.
Learning that Ms. Bialik has written a book on attachment parenting was thrilling and Beyond the Sling doesn’t disappoint. The book covers many topics I love and have adopted in my own parenting: attachment parenting, baby wearing, nighttime parenting, and gentle discipline.
She also talks about a few natural parenting philosophies that even many in the breastfeeding, baby wearing, cloth diapering crunchy-granola set find a little out there. Elimination communication, or natural infant hygiene, this philosophy believes babies are born with an awareness of their bodies and if parents cue in to their body language will know when baby needs to eliminate and can take them to the potty (a toilet, a bucket, or any sturdy shrub or tree).
Personally, cloth diapers was my big contribution to green parenting. The thought of ripping up my carpet in favor of a laminate surface to more easily clean any baby potty misses is more than I’m willing to do. Granted, my carpet should be ripped out and burned and a new flooring option installed but that’s an entirely different issue.
Medical interventions is a hot topic in itself. To circumcise or not to circumcise? And vaccination discussions are guaranteed to cause veins to pop out of foreheads and elevate the volume way above acceptable inside voice levels.
“It is worth noting that educated and intelligent people from all walks of life make all kinds of decisions to suit their lifestyles and comfort levels: to vaccinate, not to vaccinate…this is a very personal decision that should be made only after sufficient research, which today is within reach of every parent who seeks to learn about their child’s health regardless of their medical knowledge or educational status.” Says the very logical Dr. Bialik.
Philosophies that don’t suit my lifestyle aside, I’ve got to love an author whose book presents a basic premise that parents know intuitively how to care for their children and encourage them seek out resources and communities to support their personal choices without talking down to readers or coming off as having a sense of parenting superiority.
Despite her protestations, Ms. Bialik’s parenting life does sound idyllic in the sense that she created for herself a clear picture of how she wanted to parent her children, many pictures forming before giving birth, then researched the philosophy, found other parents who practiced it and talked to them and then she put it into. In contrast, looking back at my parenting style I feel that I stumbled upon philosophies that then became attractive and I slowly adopted or later determined didn’t suit me.
Not that either method of learning and adopting, or not adopting, a parenting style is better than another but Ms. Bialik’s route seems so much more structured and, gosh, logical. That is perhaps more a difference between a woman with a PhD in neuroscience approaching motherhood and a woman with a BA in communications approaching motherhood.
The biggest message I came away with from Beyond the Sling is that as parents and parents-to-be we often get bogged down in the mire of other people’s opinions about how we should parent, in satisfying cultural standards even if it doesn’t feel right, or in simply feeling a lack of confidence for parenting outside the typical box or deviating in any measure from the norm.
Gosh, there’s a lot of pressure put on pregnant moms and new moms. Ms. Bialik shared how people feel a great need to tell women, especially while they are pregnant, what is the right and wrong way to parent. Friends, family, and even strangers in the grocery line feel it their life’s mission to tell other women how to live their lives.
It brought back the memory of when I was pregnant with my first child back in early 2000, I received a strongly worded letter from my cousin in Oregon who was deeply concerned for my safety where she shared the experience of her birth with several complications. She believed I was putting myself and my unborn child’s life at risk by having a homebirth because she and her child, no doubt, would have died if she had a homebirth.
I have every confidence that if we lived near each other I would have never heard the end of her cousinly love until I committed to a hospital birth. My son was born at home, happy and healthy and without incident.
I get that it was important for my cousin to voice her concern but, wow, it was overwhelming. Women are passionate about birth and motherhood, rightly so but telling another woman to do as they did or to do as they say because of their individual circumstances doesn’t serve anyone.
“Make it a personal goal to not care what others think of you and you will have a lot less conflict about your choices.” Thanks for the encouragement, Ms. Bialik. I think that philosophy does serve parents or, really, anyone at any age.
Ms. Bialik is passionate about her birth and parenting choices but I didn’t feel any pressure as a reader to agree with or adopt the choices that made sense for her family which allowed me to enjoy her enthusiasm and appreciate her joy in parenting her children.
“I don’t understand why women say, ‘I’m just a mom’. Remind me again which job on the planet is more important…” ~Susan Hallum