Before I begin into the meat of my thoughts today I hope you’ll allow me a brief explanation about why I am posting about Mother’s Day so late.
I recently received my weekly edition of Time magazine with this controversial cover. As I read the article and observed the response from my friends and fans on Facebook and Twitter, I knew this was something that I had to talk about.
However, with Mother’s Day I knew that I also needed to talk about my fabulous mother. Seriously, she’s the best! Keeping that in mind, it’s taken me several days to develop a post that addresses both of these topics simultaneously (you know, since they are related.)
The Time article discusses a parenting philosophy known as “attachment parenting.” More specifically (and as the cover of the magazine might suggest) this article talks about breastfeeding your child for as long as you want, even into todlerhood.
What stood out to me in this article (apart from the blatant attempt from Time to keep the “mommy wars” alive) was the idea that if you don’t spend 24/7 on your children you are a bad mother. They share the story of a woman named Joanne who has only left her child in the care of another is “when she was in labor with her second child.” (She and her husband have two children.) In addition, they antagonize mothers who go back to work as not realizing how disruptive this decision is to the development of their babies.
It is this point that brings me to discuss my own (amazing) mother. As a woman who has given birth to 6 children, I think that a good descriptor for my mom is a “viking.” My mom is one tough lady! She has never been afraid to dive in and get the job at hand done. However, my mom has also never hesitated to take care of herself.
It was early 1997 and my mom was very pregnant with her fourth child (my sister, E.) I was 9 years old and I remember running home from school each day and shouting “Have you had the baby yet!?” as I ran through the door (clearly, the mechanics of childbirth escaped me at this age.)
*as an aside: E was actually born on Feb. 17.*
I share this because something really big happened around this time. My mom announced that she had no intention of breastfeeding this child. “My body has been on loan long enough,” she said. As the oldest of the children, this assertion had a huge impact on me. I knew that I had been breastfed and I had clear memories of my mom breastfeeding my other two sisters. In addition to this, I had quite a few aunts close to us that breastfed all their kids. I thought babies only used bottles on TV (except for in Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman, which was my favorite show at the time). I was extremely confident that breastfeeding was the way you did things in real life.
At 9, these thoughts were not very neatly formed. It’s only after 15 years that I am able to put these thoughts into something even remotely comprehensible. However, I do think it’s important to state that I really appreciated that E was bottle fed. I appreciated it because I LOVED to feed her (despite the fact that I accidentally dropped her twice.) As a child, to be able to feed my sister was very empowering.
I share this experience because it taught me something important about my mom, and also about motherhood in general. Attachment parenting can be awesome. However, to be a good parent (and yes, this statement includes fathers too), you need to take care of yourself. If you think your body has been on loan for to long, then reclaim it! Ultimately, my mom has taught me that taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do as a parent.
So, let’s forget the Mommy Wars. Let’s forget the competitive parenting all together. It takes a village to raise a child, not one person who has given up everything in an attempt to be everything for their offspring.