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This may be a little off topic for this blog. But I learned most of what I know about green, organic parenting by hanging out in mom forums. So I figure it may be useful to help other moms navigate the strange language of forums. And let me tell you, there is some strange language out there. Most importantly, acronyms. An Atlanta moms’ group that I’m part of on facebook had a funny conversation the other day about how extreme and confusing these acronyms can get. So, in case you’re a newbie to forums, I thought I’d provide a little guide.

First, you need to decide what kind of mom you are. Because much as we dislike labels, it’s extremely important to label yourself online. If you want to be active in a forum, put yourself in a box. This is called your niche, and it’s very important for your online presence. Here are your choices:

SAHM: stay-at-home mom. Technically this means a mom whose “only” job is taking care of her kids. In my neighborhood, at least, this is a definite misnomer, because it really means a mom who goes out a lot–to the playground, the zoo, the children’s museum, and play group. Or pretty much anywhere that will get her kids out of the house before they tear the place apart. And hopefully give her the chance to interact with some adults. Any adults. These are also the moms who accost you on the playground and make conversation because they’re desperate to talk to someone who’s taller than three feet high.

WOHM: work-out-of-home mom. A mom who has a job that requires her to show up at a job location as opposed to telecommuting. Not sure why it’s called “working” out of home, since most of the jobs I’ve had out of the home felt like a break compared to being at home with a kid. But maybe that’s just me? And I haven’t had a full-time WOH job since my daughter was born. If I did, though, I think I’d call it my vacation. Again, that’s just me.

WAHM: work-at-home mom. These lucky moms get the best of both worlds. They get to attempt adult conversations (via telephone or IM, probably) while their kids scream in their ears, climb in their laps, and try to type on their computers. Lots of fun. Don’t try this at home. Wait, that’s the only place you can try it. Don’t try this at the coffee shop. The other patrons will not appreciate it.

All of the above can switch out “D” for “M” to refer to dads: SAHD,  WOHD, WAHD. Oddly, only the SAHD label gets used much. Generally it’s assumed that dad is working. Not that there are any gender biases in our modern society or anything.

Next, you gotta describe your family.

DH: Dear Husband. In proper forum etiquette, he is always described as “dear,” even when you are complaining about him. It doesn’t matter if you are posting about how he sat on his bum all night drinking beer while you served him dinner in front of the tv and then put all six of your kids to bed single-handedly. But you can think of the “D” as ironic if it makes you feel better.

DW: Dear Wife. See above.

DF: Dear Fiance. Hopefully at this point in your relationship you won’t need to think of the “dear” as ironic. At least not most of the time.

DP: Dear Partner. That covers most of the parenting partnerships that aren’t previously covered, but just in case it doesn’t, you also have

SO: Significant Other. Also BF/GF: Boyfriend/Girlfriend. All of these leave off the “dear.” I have no idea why. You’d think this person would be especially dear. Maybe that’s just assumed at this point?

DS/DD/DC: Dear Son/Dear Daughter/Dear Child. Again, you should include the “dear” even if you are talking about how your DC locked you out of the house and laughed maniacally at you for an hour while you danced around the porch trying not to pee in your pants. You can mentally change the meaning of “D” to “darling” if you prefer.

MIL, FIL, SIL, BIL: your in-laws. Specifically, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law. You’ll be happy to know that no endearment titles are required here.

XH: Ex-Husband. This acronym is also exempt from endearment. These, however, are not:

DSD, DSS: Dear Step Daughter, Dear Stepson. No wicked stepmothers in the mom forums, people. Those only belong in fairy tales.

So much for your family. But if you’re in a natural parenting forum (which you are, right? cuz you want to learn about green, organic parenting), then you’ll also need to contend with these. Here are some acronyms you’ll need to talk about your natural parenting practices:

AP: Attachment Parenting. The catch-all for all things birthing, bonding, breastfeeding, babywearing, believing in baby, balancing your family, or pretty much anything else that starts with B.

BF: Breastfeeding. Rarely used, because generally you’ll want to clarify more specifically what kind of breastfeeding you’re doing. Such as:

EBF: Extended Breastfeeding, i.e., past one year. Or Exclusive Breastfeeding, i.e., no supplements or solids. Either way, this gives you an excuse to feel good about your breastfeeding. And maybe to look down on moms who don’t breastfeed as much as you do, if, you know, looking down your boobs at your virtual friends is your thing. It’s okay to confuse these two, but please don’t combine them and extend your exclusive breastfeeding till your baby is over a year. That does not make you a better mom. Really.

NIP: Nursing In Public. This acronym includes both those who nurse discreetly, perhaps with a cover, and those who whip it out shamelessly. If your baby is eating at your breast and you’re not at home or in a bathroom, then congrats!–you are NIP.

NAK: Nursing At Keyboard. This acronym excuses all typos and posting mistakes. Because nobody can type effectively with a baby on one arm.

Natch: Short for naturally. Not really an abbreviation, but you may come across it in natural parenting forums. Naturally.

BW: Babywearing. Because when you put your baby in a carrier, you put him on just like your t-shirt and just never take him off. (Except you take your t-shirt off–partly–to breastfeed, and the baby really doesn’t come off at all.)

BM: No, not that, silly. Well, unless you’re in a diapering or elimination communication forum. But usually it’s breast milk.

EBM: Expressed breast milk. Not to be confused with EBF.

CIO: Cry-it-out. As in the sleep training method taught by Ferber and other parenting experts. On natural parenting boards, this will generally only be used in a negative context. Don’t go on the Mothering board and say you’re planning to try CIO. Really, don’t. You’ve been warned.

If you’re on a pregnancy and conception forum, you’ll come across a whole bunch of speciality acronyms. For example:

AF: Aunt Flo. That means your period. Because even though we are perfectly comfortable teaching our two year olds to use the proper names for vaginas and penises, we still like to refer to our menstrual cycles as Aunt Flo.

TTC: Trying to Conceive. Which means you’re also

DTD: Doing The Deed. Another example of a cutesy acronym. Although I’m not sure what else we could call it. HI? Even more confusing.

BFN/BFP: Big Fat Negative/Positive. The results of your pregnancy test. The “BF” part of this acronym is put there to confuse newbies.

EDD: Estimated Due Date. Because your due date is not really a specific day. And darn it, you are not getting induced if you go late.

If you’re on a diapering forum, you’ll need to know how to describe cloth diapers. Such as:

CD: Cloth Diaper. Can be used as a verb: CD’ing.

PF: Prefolds. Simple, cheap, effective; only slight origami required.

FF: Flat folds. Simpler and cheaper, with slightly more origami.

AIOs: All-In-Ones. These require absolutely no special knowledge to use, and thus are perfect for DHs and MILs who may be uncertain about CD’ing.

If you’re on a babywearing forum, you’ll need additional acronyms. For example:

ABC: Asian-style Baby Carrier. Nothing to do with the alphabet. Although I hope the song is running through your head now.

SSC: Soft Structured Carrier. You must be sure to distinguish an SSC from a backpack-style carrier. The Ergo is an SSC; the Kelty backpack is a backpack carrier. SSCs make you look cooler and are used by more hardcore babywearers. Another opportunity to look down your virtual nose.

SPOC: Simple Piece of Cloth. In other words, a wrap that you made by, well, wrapping a piece of cloth around yourself and your baby. Using this as a carrier makes you truly natural and awesome and hardcore. Also, you save a lot of money.

Babywearing forums also have lots of acronyms describing ways to tie carriers, such as BWCC (back wrap cross carry), DH (double hammock), FCC (front cross carry), T2T (tummy to tummy), and WPBC (wiggle-proof back carry). If you want to know how to do these, don’t go to a forum. Go to a babywearing group or a workshop, or at least to Youtube. But please, don’t use them if you don’t know what they mean. Or at least how to do them properly.

Confused yet? You shouldn’t be: you’re just getting started. You still need to learn about GD (which has at least two possible meanings), FF (ditto), and BH (this one too). You don’t want to confuse UC with UP, or CLW with BLW. And, of course, you’ll need to learn all the normal forum abbreviations as well. Because otherwise you might make a mistake that would make your LO just LOL, which would be embarrassing.

And if you understood all of that, then I’m sorry. You really need to get off the computer. Please, go. GAL. I’ll see you IRL.