Tiger Mom. We're not sure what was louder -- the roar of the Tiger Mom, or the uproar that followed the news of Amy Chua's controversial parenting memoir. Outlining the high expectations she set for her children, combined with harsh criticisms, and the limited amounts of fun her girls were allowed to have (remember how they didn't get to be in plays or go on sleepovers?), her book sparked a worldwide debate that we thought would never end.
Michelle Duggar's Pregnancy. When the mother of 19 children announced she was expecting her 20th child, the country couldn't stop talking about it. Whether people adore the Duggars and applaud their ability to raise such a large, well-behaved family, or find them to be irresponsible over-breeders, everyone is fascinated by this super-sized clan. Sadly, news later followed that Michelle suffered a miscarriage. Our hearts go out to the Duggar family for their loss.
Go the F*** to Sleep. The mother of all children's books, this tongue-in-cheek (strictly for adults) children's story became a phenomenon before it was even released. Sleep-deprived parents everywhere were clamoring for the book so much that the publishers released it earlier than planned, in order to meet demand. Author Adam Mansbach tapped into not only parents' love for their kids, but also for their desperate desire to get a brief respite at the end of a long day -- wishing that kids would just, go the f*** to sleep.
The Vaccination Wars. To jab or not to jab -- that is the question. The question that leads to one of the most hotly contested battles of the mommy wars, that is. The passion on both sides of the vaccination debate is spirited and the debates waged online can be fierce. Arguably, one of the most important public health issues of our time, the choice to vaccinate (or not) our kids came to the forefront late in 2011. New research showed that an increasing number of parents have chosen not to vaccinate their children, a trend that health officials find more than a little troubling.
Momfessions. This year at TODAY Moms, we took the kid gloves off and got down and dirty, sharing our deepest confessions about motherhood. We found out that half of us have knowingly sent a sick kid to school or daycare and that a whopping 85 percent of us have used our kids to get out of a social obligation. 44 percent of us would rather be 15 pounds thinner than add 15 IQ points to our child's IQ (but, c'mon, those kids are so smart anyways...). We declared TODAY Moms to be a judgment-free zone while we all talked about everything from feeling overwhelmed to worrying that we yell too much. Bottom line, you're not alone. Motherhood's a tough gig and we're all in it together.
Girls' Clothing FAILS. You couldn't turn around in 2011, without bumping into crotchless thong panties for tweens or degrading slogans splayed across shirts for young girls. We don't know what the manufacturers of girls' clothing were thinking this year (or maybe they just weren't) but it was a year marked by some seriously unfashionable missteps. In the spring, we were shocked by the padded, push-up bikini tops Abercrombie & Fitch was marketing to girls as young as seven. By the Fall, many were nostalgic for the innocence of those bikini tops, after we were assaulted by French lingerie for young girls, t-shirts that read "I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me," and eventually, crotchless thongs for tweens. There were more, but we're just sticking to the lowlights today.
Circ-Free in San Fran. If there's one thing parents get snippier about than vaccinations, it's circumcisions. For a red-hot minute, the city of San Francisco considered banning circumcisions. In the spring, an initiative proposing a ban on the practice, received tons of signatures and seemed to be headed for the November ballot. While intactivists celebrated, health officials and religious groups mourned, then sued. While the initiative was eventually cut from the ballot, the debate over circumcisions remains intact.
Leiby Kletzky. This summer, the horrific murder of eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky, terrified the nation. News reports said the young boy had been begging his parents to let him walk home from day camp by himself. After much consideration, they struck a compromise. He could walk home part of the way by himself, and his parents would meet him before travelling the rest of the way home together. Tragically, the first time he was allowed to do this, he got lost and was abducted and killed. This terrible incident led to a renewed parenting debate over how much freedom we should (and could) allow our children to have.
Genderless Parenting. For some, "boys" and "girls" became taboo words in 2011. While many encourage little girls to play with trucks and little boys to play with dolls, some feel that's not enough to end gender stereotypes. This year, we were introduced to Baby Storm, whose parents, in an attempt to raise their child in a gender-neutral manner, refused to divulge their baby's gender. Then, there was news of a gender-free preschool in Sweden that took gender-neutrality so far, they even banned the words "him" and "her" from their lexicon. On a somewhat related note, let's not forget the controversy stirred up by the J. Crew ad of a mom and her young son happily painting their toenails (pink) together.
Breast Milk Ice Cream. I scream, you scream, we all screamed at the thought of breast milk ice cream. It was the "Eew!" heard round the world, as we learned about the London ice cream shop schilling scoops of breast milk ice cream. For just $22 a serving, people could lick a scoop of Baby Gaga. Ice cream may be sweet, but the controversy surrounding the human-milk based delicacy, quickly turned sour. Health inspectors investigated, then banned the creamy concoctions (later reversing that decision), and Lady Gaga, Baby Gaga's namesake, was also none too pleased. She sent a cease and desist letter to the ice cream-makers, leading them say she was "acting like a big baby who is crying over spilled breast milk."
Dana Macario is a TODAY Moms contributor and Seattle mom to two sleep-depriving toddlers. She is currently developing an alarm clock that will start an IV coffee drip 10 minutes prior to wake-up time. Once properly caffeinated, she also blogs at www.18years2life.com