Perfect Parenting

Imagine you have made a mistake.  I’m sure everyone of us has made a mistake at some point, right? We can’t all be perfect paragons of parenting, so I’m sure we all have at least one or two regrets.

Anyway- so imagine you have made a horrible, uncorrectable mistake.

And now you know better, are horrified by what you have done, and you tell people about it because you don’t want them to make the same choices.  And no matter what you do or say, you are judged for that mistake.

This morning I was scrolling through my facebook feed and saw a post on an intactivist page that caught my eye.

“I live with the deep regret of circing my son, almost 3yr old now. I didn’t want to but felt pressured. I had done some research but not enough. If I knew then what I know now he would be whole. I’m a very strong intactivist now and am always informing when I can. I get so sad when I read stories of moms who studied and changed their minds and fought for their baby (sad for my baby that I didn’t). I’ve been thinking a lot about the future and if he will forgive me and still love me. He will see me fighting so hard for other babies–he may resent me for not keeping him safe. My question is to the cut guys here. If your mom was truely heartbroken over what she did to you and she had spent much of her life fighting this, how would you feel toward her?”

I totally understand how this mom feels, because I’m wondering the same thing.  So I scrolled through the responses.  Most were kind, telling the OP to forgive herself, her son will know she loves him, etc.  But the second one down questioned why if she was so “AP” she would cut her son.  And that rankled.  The poster went on to correct her statement in a later status, and the rest of the thread is supportive, but it got me thinking.

I have mentioned before that I don’t like to talk about intactivism on my blog.  I don’t talk about it because 1.) I don’t really care to discuss the state of my children’s penises with the world at large.  2.) I am deeply ashamed that I wasn’t better informed and my poor babies suffered for it.  And 3.) I am a coward and afraid to stir up the judgy pot.  I never brought this subject up until this past spring (when I was accused of being a hypocrite by someone who knew someone that met me) because I felt like I would be condemned and labeled unqualified to support or write about attachment parenting with sons that have been cut.  I felt that I was unworthy to support the cause, or that my support would be unpalatable to the intactivists.  Which sort of happened.  I was called out publicly and privately for it.  Whether or not I am “AP” enough was put into question.

Sometimes I read the comments on intactivist pages and the pure nastiness takes my breath away.   I am amazed at how harshly mothers are judged when they freely admit it WAS a mistake that they would never make again.  I mean, if someone were to waltz on to one of those pages and stomp all over the place posting pro-circ shit then I could understand it.  But to be labeled as a child abuser, a molester, a horrible person, a bad mother, evil, uncaring, etc…  When obviously you DO care and suffer immensely for it…  I don’t understand that at all.

We all make bad decisions.

Thankfully, not every stupid choice we make has such long lasting repercussions.  But everyone of us, no matter how good our intentions, makes mistakes.  And no matter how “crunchy” or “AP” we are (or strive to be) it is impossible for every single person to embark on this parenting journey fully informed and educated.  I wish that there was more compassion to pass around for those of us who stumble.


My two sons.  I should have known that they were perfect from the moment they were born.


  1. Cheryl says:

    Yeah, I pretty much stopped hanging out with all my AP ‘friends’ & group because of all the judgement & the ‘I’m better than you attitude because I _____” It was suppose to be a group to support families learning to AP & I should of known when I first heard “Oh, I (emphasis) would never___” I think a lot of the moms there tried to feel better about themselves instead of helping the new moms feel better about the job they were doing. It’s disappointing & sad really, we teach our kids that they are to learn from their mistakes & it’s okay to make mistakes but when a parent makes a mistake all hell breaks loose. It didn’t help that as my oldest got older I went back to my instincts & what I saw growing up (my mom spanked me daily, if not more). When I would admit I swatted him the tsks& oh no’s & how could yous? I heard made me feel even worse.
    I wish the American society as a whole supported families better, you hear it takes a village to raise a child but it’s hard to have the village & support with everyone being so judgmental.

  2. Life has challenges enough without us making more for each other. You sound to me like a thoughtful person doing the best she can. We, each of us, make choices. Some good, some bad. We cannot ever know the truth of whether something was good or bad. There is an old story from China that I am very fond of, I think it applies here:

    There was an old man and his son who had a small farm. They had one horse and a plow and together they would work to make the yields they needed to live and pay their taxes. Life was hard but they survived. One day the horse broke free of the plow and ran off into the mountains.

    The son was convinced they were going to starve to death. He was shattered. Soon enough word spread around the small village nearby and many folk came out to offer condolences and help. Each one spoke in more dejected tones, convincing the son further that this was a horrible situation. How would they ever get the fields planted? Oh, the taxes would take all their food.

    Eventually they noted the old man simply sat, nodding and sipping his tea. When they asked him if he was disturbed about it, he replied. “The horse ran to the mountains; good, bad, who can say?”

    A week passed while the two did the best they could to plant the field without a horse to plow it. Suddenly in the distance they heard a lot of hooves and then came into view a goodly sized herd of horses being led by their horse. These wild horses were fairly easily corralled into a makeshift pen and the son was elated. He was convinced they were now rich beyond their wildest expectations. Soon word spread to the village and once again they were host to a myriad of visitors. This time each one convinced the son more about their great fortune.

    Once again they noted the old man sat calmly sipping his tea. When asked if he was excited, he replied. “We now seem to be in possession of a herd of horses; Good, bad, who can say?”

    A few days later, after all was settled and a more permanent corral was underway, the son decided to break one of the horses so he could have his own riding horse. Well, sure enough he was thrown and broke his leg in three places as well as his hip. He was going to be a long time in recovery and now they would have to sell a number of the horses just to pay for the doctor to come all the way out and see to him. They would also have to sell more so that he could get the care he would need and lastly the old man would have to hire help for the fields and so they would really likely only be slightly better off than before.

    Well the son was crestfallen and of course felt responsible for such hardship he had put on his father. Soon enough villagers began to come by and offer both condolences but also chide the son for his foolishness. People being what they are and taking great opportunity to place themselves above someone in misery.

    Again it was noted the old man sat calmly, sipping his tea and looking at his son with care and understanding.

    When asked if he were either upset or worried, the old man replied. “My son has injured himself. But I think he will recover in time. I am glad for this. The other? Good, bad, who can say?”

    A week later the military marched into town and conscripted all the able bodied young man and marched them off to war. The son, injured as he was, stayed at home. Good, bad; who can say?

    I tell you this as a man who has been circumcised as a baby; I am certain your sons will love you no less, especially since you clearly care so deeply for them. I know I don’t hold it against my mom for doing what she thought was best based upon what she knew.

    Just keep doing what you are; loving them as best you know how.

  3. Circumcision is not a big topic in Germany, and I will freely admit that I do not know much about the topic. But I would say that everybody makes mistakes, and that as long as they were trying to do the best they could, their mistakes should be forgiven.

    Next, ask yourself one question. Or actually, ask yourself two questions. (Or a few more, who knows what this may lead to.)
    Have your parents made mistakes?
    Do you still love them?

    (And if you don’t, which is not a crime, what were the mistakes you could not forgive them? I am pretty certain that making a medically questionable decision for you at a time when you were not able to make the decision yourself was not the reason.)
    Diandra´s last post… Inter-faith holidays

  4. I felt nearly the exact same way as you for a long time. I was afraid to open to door to drama and my guilt kept me from saying anything. However, I finally wrote a blog post about my son’s circumcision and I was surprised about the support I got from intactivism supporters. I got a lot of really sweet comments on the post and on twitter. It really helped. I feel awful for that mom that she got reamed after making what was probably a really painful confession. I hope she listens to the people who were supportive and dismissed the jerk.

    (If you want to read my circumcision post, it’s here:
    Cherie´s last post… A Very Belated Monster Monday

  5. I worry about this often, not because I made a similar mistake, but because I’m currently pregnant with baby #2, and I know my husband is going to want the baby circumcised. (We don’t yet know the sex.) I’m worried that I’m going to have to go into a lengthy explanation and really fight with many people about this. Why is circumcision so popular still? I don’t know. I also don’t want my son to someday want to get the procedure done himself, and resent me for not getting it done for him at birth. I had an ex-boyfriend who got it done at 13 because he felt ‘different’. Sad that outside pressures really made that big of an impression.

    I hope you’ve found peace, and I know that at the time, you did what you felt was right. You are a good momma.
    Jen´s last post… Lily’s birth story

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge