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Saturday, August 20, 2005
Geekmom
I love going into our departmental main office. The administrative staff (an undergraduate secretary, a graduate secretary, and an office adminstrator) are wonderful people, always ready to help and always genuinely curious about what's going on in everyone's lives. Two of them have grandchildren, and so whenever I'm in the office we end up talking about children so they can get the latest ST update. Our administrator's daughter is pregnant and due in December, and so our administrator and I were talking about strollers and carseats.

The undergraduate secretary piped up, "It's so hard to buy anything for new moms these days, because they research every detail! I bought a carseat at a garage sale and my son and daughter-in-law looked at me like I was crazy!"

The office administrator and I laughed. "Even I know that you're not supposed to buy a second-hand carseat," the administrator said. "But you're right -- it is hard to buy for these academic geekmoms like this one here." She pointed to me and grinned.

Geekmom. I like it. I think.

I suppose a term like "geekmom" would specifically refer to a mother who is a fan of the latest technology. A mom who is also a computer programmer, perhaps, or one who has a strong affinity for gadgets. But I think the term could be used more generically, to refer to mothers and mothers-to-be who are obsessive about researching every product that comes into contact with their baby while in utero or out, who turn to the latest research for problems they might encounter with their children, who seek out expert advice wherever possible. Thus, a broader definition of a Geekmom would encompass mothers who not only embrace new technologies, but who research every possibility to decide on the best one for their children.

I suppose I was and am a Geekmom in many respects. I am a minimalist, and so I wanted to buy only those things I really needed for a new baby, and not have a baby's room cluttered with junk from the aisles of Babies R Us. I researched cribs, travel systems, breast pumps, and baby toys. I researched bottles, just in case breastfeeding didn't work out, as well as formula and formula companies. After a lot of searching online, I decided to cloth diaper because I felt it was best for my baby, my conscience, and the environment, and I bought cloth diapers only after months of careful consideration. I decided to make my own baby food (best move ever, and so easy) because I researched the additives sometimes included in prepared food, and I even taste-tested commercial baby food and discovered that it's mostly unpalatable. Even now, I try to keep ST away from a lot of packaged/convenience foods (and I am greatly assisted in that by ST, who literally eats anything you put in front of him aside from black beans and mangoes), I try to buy toys that have been favorably reviewed on amazon.com, and I buy him clothes (but not very many, and none that are impractical) that will last. And now, while my husband and I are trying to figure out appropriate discipline, I went straight for the bookshelves of amazon.com to glean some insight into my ST's crazy behavior issues.

I wonder if being a Geekmom is a problem. Am I (and fellow Geekmoms -- I'm sure you're out there, and I suspect academia is a veritable breeding ground for them) missing out on something valuable by just going with the flow? Am I losing a connection with mothers around the world, such as my own mother, who followed their intuition instead of reading stacks of information on child products and child-rearing? Are Geekmoms in general isolating themselves by insisting on their own personal standards from everyone when it comes to their children? Is it sad that new grandmothers of Geekmom children are reluctant to make an excited purchase at the babystore in the anticipation of Geekmom's disapproval? And is a second-hand carseat really a problem, anyway?

I like to think that, in spite of my research-driven tendencies, I'm a pretty laid-back Mom who appreciates a lot of input from a variety of sources, and who is grateful when grandmothers or great-grandmothers do or buy something special for ST. I don't think there's a right way to raise children, or that the products I choose for my child will make him any better than a child with a different assortment of things. And while I rely on "experts" for advice a lot of time, in the end my husband and I go with what we feel is best. I suppose being a Geekmom is really about having all the information, and about making the best decision for a family when faced with a dizzying array of choices. It's not all about making the "rational" choice, but about making the choices you can feel good about for a long time to come.

All that said, my stroller really sucks. Despite all that research, Geekmom does not always win. And Geekmom could not foresee a very tall, 38 lb. two-and-a-half year old who is literally giving said stroller a run for the money.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 8/20/2005 02:02:00 PM  
6 Words of Wisdom:
  • At 7:02 PM, Blogger ABDmom said…

    I think I fit a lot of the Geekmom qualifications, but not all of them. I think a lot of first-time moms are geekmoms, simply because for many moms today, it's the first baby they've really been around and they're worried about how to take care of a baby. Hence the books and research.

    Even though Pistola is my first and only child (so far), in many ways I didn't feel like a first-time mom. I have a slew of nieces and nephews; I've been an aunt since I was in elementary school. It's hard for me to remember a time in my life when I wasn't around a baby.

    Because of that, I felt all along like I had a pretty good handle on Pistola and what it meant to be her mom. And while I did worry (and still do) about being a "good mom," I also had faith that I knew what to do and would be a good mom.

    I remember talking to her when I was pregnant with her, telling her that I would teach her how to get along in this world and that she would teach me how to teach her. That's pretty much my parenting philosophy: she'll show me how she needs to be parented. That's actually a large part of my teaching philosophy, too--students will show us what they need, if we just pay attention.

    I tend to view parenting as the ultimate teaching assignment: my "student" is with me most hours of the day, 365 days a year, for at least 18 years. And it's up to me not only to teach her appropriate habits of mind, but of spirit and soul. I have to help shape her into a resposible, caring, moral person.

    This is getting long, so I'll add another comment. I'm afraid I'll get cut off.

     
  • At 7:21 PM, Blogger ABDmom said…

    OK, part two:

    Those are the ways in which I feel like I'm NOT a geekmom. In other ways, though, I am. I read the Baby Bargains book from cover to cover when I was pregnant and cross-referneced them with Amazon reviews. That is how I figured out what to register for; I wanted to make sure the stuff had a good safety record, would be durable, and was appropriately priced. I would be appaled by a second-hand carseat because they are not safe (you never know if they've been in an accident).

    But I also listened to advice from my mom and sister. While I didn't have any friends here with kids, when I was at a baby store I would ask moms questions--how do you like your stroller, that sort of thing. My sister loaned me a basinette, which I used a lot. And I gladly accepted any and all presents. My mom and sister still make plenty of spur of the moment purchases for Pistola, and I've been happy with all of them.

    I know some of my relatives thought I wouldn't want any "girly" clothes for Pistola because of my feminism; these were relatives who don't know me very well, like my oldest brother's wife and some of my cousins. My mom and sister (who always wanted a girl but had boys) said, "Are you kidding?" and went ahead and bought all the "girly" clothes. They knew I could care less about that kind of stuff, and they're right. While I'm not fond of pink, it's hard to find girl clothes that aren't pink. And I wasn't about to spoil their fun, especially for my sister. And honestly, I have fun buying her clothes, too--there are SUCH cute things for girls! It's not like it's going to "ruin" Pistola; my mom put me in nothing but pretty dresses when I was little and it certainly didn't hinder my feminist development! :) LOL So Pistola looks very girly and pretty, and honestly I take pride in the fact that she IS pretty and that she wears cute clothes.

    I did read A LOT about birth, mainly because I knew I wanted a natural birth and I knew no one who had gone natural. I didn't want to be talked out of my plans, so I didn't open myself up to hearing horror stories. And I read Dr Sears' Baby Book, mostly so I could defend my AP practices from people like my mother in law, who hated our co-sleeping and who was always saying I was going to roll over on Pistola and kill her. Nice subtlety, eh?

    So in some ways I'm a geekmom I guess, but in many ways I'm not. And I definitely buy Pistola too many clothes. I can't help it, though; they are just too cute to resist! :)

     
  • At 3:54 PM, Blogger Prof. Me said…

    Hi, ABD!

    Thanks for such a nice response. To my mind, there's a distinction between the first-time mom and the geekmom. The FTM is excited about a lot of the new baby products, but maybe doesn't research every detail. She doesn't care if she gets the Dekkor diaper pail or the Diaper Genie -- she's happy that diaper containment won't be a problem for her. I think a lot of FTMs (at least those I know) just like to have STUFF, but they're not terribly picky as to what that stuff is. The GM, however, is very particular: she knows the difference between each diaper pail on the market, knows the environmental costs of both cloth and disposable diapers, knows the latest research on orthodontic pacifiers. My neighbors, for example, were classic FTMs but not GMs. They bought things because they were cute or novel, not because they worked.

    We're different in that you seem to have settled into the role of mother rather naturally, and I certainly didn't. Unlike you, I was not around babies at all growing up (I'm the oldest and my extended family is small and dispersed) and so when ST was born, I felt prepared book-wise (I'd read everything I could get my hands on), but completely clueless emotionally. My GM tendencies made me feel like I was ready to "handle" this baby with all of my proven, well-researched stuff, but I wasn't quite ready to handle actually "being" the mom. No book can prepare you for that -- only experience can. I look forward to having another child just because I'll know what to expect and how to feel like a mom.

    Oh, and I hear you on the cute girl clothes! They are adorable -- boys' clothes are so utilitarian. There's not much selection for boys, either, whereas there are millions of things to choose from for little girls, each one cuter than the next. The only place I can really get creative with ST is in his hats!

     
  • At 7:40 PM, Blogger ABDmom said…

    Yeah, I see what you mean about the distinction between the FTM and the GM. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I think most GMs are FTMS, though the reverse isn't necessarily true. Does that make sense? And I think most FTMs are very anxious about doing things right, in terms of caring for their babies (the emotional adjustment you described), which can feed into GM tendencies.

    And I definitely know what you mean with the diaper pail example! I knew exactly which one I wanted (the Diaper Champ) and if someone had gotten me one of the other ones, I would have taken it back. I did NOT want the Genie, beause I didn't want to have to buy special bags for it! I did take back the infant carseat my MIL bought, now that I think about it, because she didn't buy the one I registered for. I think it was the same seat, but not the color I wanted.

    And I know I took a swing back, because somebody gave me one of those "take-along" swings when I had registered for the Ocean Wonder swing. I liked the side to side motion, and the weight limit was higher. I knew Pistola was going to be a big baby, and I was right (over 10 lbs). So she wouldn't have gotten much use out of the take-along swing.

    So maybe I'm not so agreeable after all! :) LOL

     
  • At 8:29 PM, Blogger Prof. Me said…

    Pistola was over 10lbs. and you had a natural birth? ABD, you are my new hero.

     
  • At 7:40 PM, Blogger ABDmom said…

    :) It's the only semi-heroic thing I've ever done in my life. I have to say, it sure won me A LOT of respect with BH! He thought I was a wimp until the birth. Pushing out a ten lb + baby with no drugs did wonders for my street cred, LOL. :)

     
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