Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Mother's Day Rant

You've probably seen the cover of Time this week:

I'm totally frustrated by this.  The magazine decided to fan the flames of the Matriarch Kerfuffle just in time for Mother's Day.  During a wakeful period between 5 and 6 this morning, I found myself thinking through everything that pisses me off about this magazine cover, this article, and this blasted and unending media attention on how the heck we parent our kids.

I don't have a problem with a mom who wants to breastfeed her child past the age of 2 or 3 or whatever.  It's none of my business.  I think as a society we need to get over our ick factor about breastfeeding, because it's natural, beautiful, and what's nutritionally best for babies.  But this photograph is intentionally provocative, and all it does is hurt the image of breastfeeding in public.  It's a hard enough war to wage when people think it's reasonable to ask women to nurse their babies in a bathroom stall.  Don't add to it by providing a literal poster child of what anti-extended breastfeeding/anti-breastfeeding in public/etc is most afraid of.

As for the article, it is supposedly about Dr. William Sears and attachment parenting.  I was slow to come to attachment parenting, partially because of the way it is described (lambasted) in the media, like this article.  The article begins by describing a woman who is so committed to attachment parenting, she pretty much does not leave the house so that she can always be with her child.  This woman was also described as having trouble getting pregnant, so she quit her job to focus on it.

While the article goes on to state that her level of commitment is extreme, it still uses her as an example.  It then goes on to ask if attachment parenting is anti-feminist, since it asks women to stay so close to their children.

For me, I came to attachment parenting when it became clear that my child would accept nothing else.  He would not sleep unless he was with me, so either no one got sleep, or we co-slept.  Dr. Sears's book helped me to find ways to make that safe and beneficial for all of us.  Dr. Sears also was the first "expert" I read who empowered me and J to become experts in our own child.  Other sleep books would advise me to let the child cry it out because "the parent needed to be strong enough to do what is best for the child."  Dr. Sears let me know that I knew what was best for him.

Attachment parenting also offered a breath of fresh air when it came to some of the ridiculous proscriptions about what you MUST do for your child.  For example, other sleep books said that if you wanted to play with your kid in the evening because you worked full time, that was just too damned bad.  They advised you to play with your baby in the morning (because mornings are NEVER hectic for full-time working folks) so as to make sure you absolutely put your child to bed early enough to make sure they got the sleep they needed.  Otherwise, you would MELT their BRAINS!  Dr. Sears suggested they take a later nap in the day (at daycare, with the babysitter, or with Mom so working Dads could actually get to know their children) and keep the kids up later to spend time with their families.  Revolutionary, I know, but after hearing all the horrible ways I was screwing things up by not having a consistent bedtime, it was a miracle to me that an expert was telling me there wasn't ONE right way to handle bedtime.

I see attachment parenting as an opportunity to let mothers and fathers get to know their kids.  The extreme types who are profiled in articles and made fun of in movies are often those who need some sort of rulebook or precedent everywhere in their lives.  If they weren't following Dr. Sears, there would be a different guru whom they followed because they need to have an owner's manual.  So pointing to that as an example of what attachment parenting is hardly seems fair.  (Nor does it seem fair to make fun of the individuals who are that extreme.  It's clearly working for them/fulfilling a need/not our business.)

Finally, I'm sick and tired of the so-called mommy wars.  Who gives a flying f*** how I parent my son and how other parents raise their kids?  Short of abuse and neglect, we all need to find other places for our noses--like our own business. 

So on that note, have a Happy Mother's Day.


  1. I think that's my biggest thing. I have so many FB friends who are convinced their way of parenting is THE way and feel like they have to shove it down others throats at every opportunity. I have relatives who continually "tsk" me for not breastfeeding even though it wasn't necessarily my choice not to do it or criticize other decisions I make.

    Through it all what I remember is that they're MY children. It's one thing to be a mother who does things "just because" and doesn't really care much about her children, but if you can admit I'm a concerned, loving mother who seeks to make decisions in the best interest of my child, then you can also respect those decisions just as I respect yours.

  2. Happy Mother's Day!! I just posted my own agitated commentary on the cover, and what "Mom Enough" means to me. You are; I am. Enjoy LO!

  3. Word. And, as you know, you get it from both angles. I am not listening to my child's cues because he's sleeping in his own crib AND I am not being disciplined enough because I still nurse him when he wakes at night.
    It is easier with the second to ignore the crazy. I think because the first is still alive and all, you figure you did somethin' right...

    As for the cover...lame. Lame, lame, lame. I know a lot of moms who nursed their kiddos into the second or third year, and none of 'em do it with the kid standing in camo pants like he's at a bar. Lame City.

  4. Apparently, no one was reading Time which is exactly why the editors published it. It was like dumping gasoline all over a simmering fire and then throwing a match on it. We all know what you get. A hell of an explosion. And we all proved we were lemmings. Meanwhile, all of the marketing executives and editors are high fiving each other backstage. I talk about the end of my role as a lemming here: