Friday, May 25, 2012

Motherhood in 2012 - Are we all crazy?

Hi. First, let me rattle off a host of apologies at the get-go. Sorry for the length of this post, sorry for the jumbled nature of its contents, sorry for all of the links, and sorry for all of the question marks. Mostly, I am sorry for all of you Oliver fans out there. This post does not entirely feature his cuteness this week. Gasp! What kind of mother am I to not post about the star of what this blog is supposed to be all about?
Well, funny you asked....
What kind of mother am I? I have been mulling this question over ALOT lately. I mean, the underlying theme of mommydom is always running amok in my brain, but I guess that I have really been obsessing over it since this lovely little photo came out.
Hmm...where to start? Lots of emotions ran through me when I saw this cover for the first time. The sheer shock of it, disbelief, a hint of disgust, yes, and a little bit of anger. But, I didn't really know who/what/where to direct these emotions and whether any of these emotions were valid.
Sooo...I decided to try to organize my thoughts. Therefore, this post is only meant to be part of an ongoing dialogue on whether any of us are going about this whole parenting thing on the right track. It is not meant to be my superior opinion versus anyone else's opinion. If you want to know what keeps me up at night (besides currently reading the Hunger Games series), it's some of the below:

A. The photo above was published for no other reason than to generate publicity for TIME Magazine. Thank you, Captain Obvious, I know. They succeeded. What I'm less sure of is how many people who noticed this cover actually took the time to read the article. The article is really over one particular parenting style that has emerged in the last 30 years - Attachment Parenting. Most of it highlights the creator of this style, Dr. Bill Sears. But, would you know that by just glancing at this photo?
Foot stomp! Maybe I'm being a tad too sensitive, but how dare you, TIME, try to turn motherhood into some sort of freak show, where we women are either: A. Not good mothers because we don't/didn't choose to breastfeed/stay at home/co-sleep/wear our children in a sling, etc. OR, B. We women are cuckoo for cocoa puffs by doing any/all of the above-mentioned actions. Also, how incredibly sad and depressing that our society has become so sexualized that THIS cover photo is the one chosen to entice readers, for the specific reason that it is provocative, the mother the most attractive of all of the mothers used for the article, the child appearing older than his actual age (3).
So, in the end, I have decided the anger I have been feeling IS rightly directed toward TIME, for these reasons and others, which are more aptly spelled out in this woman's blog posting. Melissablogs. (Please note that this link to Melissa's posting is probably the ONLY thing this woman and I have in common. But, I am trying to stay apolitical here, so, moving on.)

B. More ponderings spawned from the above photo. What is attachment parenting? Is it really as weird as the photo makes it out to be? Turns out, no. At least, I don't think so. See here for the 8 principles of attachment parenting. 8 Principles of AP And, please remember, these are infants and toddlers they are talking about here, not moody teenagers. Apparently, the average age for weening around the world is somewhere between 3 and 5. Say what?! Of course, I do wonder if this statistic is factoring in alot of poorer countries, where a toddler still might find his best nutrition source to be his mother. That is not the case in this country, of course, but in any event, attachment parenting does not mandate breastfeeding your child until he can ask for it by name, rather, it calls for letting the child take the lead in deciding when they are done with this nurturing/bonding process. Did I do it this way? No. Do I care if you do it this way?
The only principle that I really question with attachment parenting is the last one in the link. "Strive for balance in personal and family life." Gee, that sounds lovely. Shouldn't we all be doing this one? Well, yes again, Captain Obvious. However, from my personal experience, I didn't do a good job of making my marriage a priority after Oliver was born and I didn't practice all of the principles of AP. I think we all know that intimacy takes a bit of a hit after a baby comes into the picture. I can only imagine how much harder it would be to keep your marriage/relationship healthy and progressing if you are strictly adhering to ALL of the principles of AP - always feeding your baby, wearing your baby, attending to your baby's every cry, sleeping with your baby, etc. There are certainly ALOT of things I would do differently if I were to become a parent all over again. If you struggle with balancing motherhood and your marriage or want to avoid this consequence in your future, see this interesting perspective on the toll parenting and, specifically, attachment parenting, could take on your relationship. A Rabbi questions AP
The topic of keeping a marriage strong and healthy really deserves its own blog altogether. So, we'll move on.

Let me be clear. I am a firm believer in the WIT parenting style. Whatever ITakes, people! And, it takes a village. A BIG village, with lots of goats and shaman, and fun rain dances.
I digress.

I think part of why I personally could not/ did not adhere to the attachment parenting method is, drumroll, please....wait for it, wait for it.... work. Work! Hey, most of us mothers work these days. Has this registered yet with the American workplace? Like everything else written in this post:  Questionable. We have a culture today that promotes, nay, DEMANDS multi-tasking. "Women are the best multi-taskers in the world," says Dr. Sears Dr. Sears comments on Time article  Well, Dr. Sears, do you think that is by choice?
We multi-task because our very survival and sanity depends on it. And, while there have been strides made in helping a working mama out by introducing things like flex-time, job-sharing, paternity leave, and other measures in certain private companies, there is no law guaranteeing us maternity leave. Rubbish, you say -What about FMLA? I call BS. The mere fact that the name lumps in other medical reasons why one might have to miss alot of work means it's not addressing the specific need that is this: Mothers need to bond with their children. If we as a society are so concerned today about the state of the "family", and want to rid the land of abortions, reduce the need to pay for contraceptives, prevent bullying in schools, have happy, productive employees, etc...maybe our culture as a whole, workplace and all, should support motherhood just a wee bit more. Anyone? Bueller? We are the only westernized country to not have mandatory maternity leave (also the only one to have the death penalty, but again, different blog). FMLA gives us 12 weeks without getting fired. And, without getting paid. Really?! "To put it another way, out of 168 nations in a Harvard University study---, 163 had some form of paid maternity leave, leaving the United States in the company of Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland." - USA Today, 2005 article,
Gosh, this makes me just want to jump up and burn the midnight oil for my boss, how 'bout you?
You may think I'm just lazy and don't want to work.
You would be right. BUT, I still believe that 12 weeks is simply not enough time to bond with the new being that YOU created. It's just not. And it sucks.

Moving on. If you are still with me at this point, God bless you! You must have beyond nothing to do today. I'm jealous!
Time. Ironic that TIME Magazine is the name that spurred me into this tangent. I read a really, really, really interesting study in Real Simple magazine- April edition, about women and time. How do we spend our time? Do we have enough time? What would we do with our free time? Yadayadayada. Others have linked the TIME article to the bigger question of Time in general. Are Women Enemies of Our Own Time? Why yes, yes we are. We also forced you men to eat the apple and ruined paradise. Evil b's, we are.
Real Simple has a cool tool to make your own pie chart that shows how you spend your time in an average day. It's fun! Your Time Pie Chart Tool 
Point of all of this being, we need help. We can't and shouldn't do it all alone. Remember when I said it takes a village? In order for our children to grow up and be productive, happy members of the free world, I believe they need role models who are the same. So, ladies (all the ladies!), help me out. Help yourselves out! Put down the laundry basket. Delegate. Do something for yourself every once in awhile. Do I take my own advice?
My husband cannot read my mind to know when I need a break, or when I want him to be the one to go to the store this time, or to unload the dishwasher this cycle. I have to tell him. He WANTS me to tell him! Men need to be told what to do. It's just how they are programmed. I have railed against this fact for most of my marriage, but I have finally come to terms with it. And it's okay. Matt is a good and decent person, is a great father and husband, and I have to let this one thing go. Is eye rolling involved periodically because of his inability to mind-read?
YES! :)

On top of all of these major life questions on how we should be raising our children, we now have to worry if even having children period is dooming them to a life of disaster and ruin Are Parents Destroying The Planet?

I need a drink. Is it noon yet?

Okay, what is all of this jumble leading to? What's the right answer? When do the questions end???? Yeah, I don't know. I just thought that by laying out my own questions and insecurities on parenting, I may alleviate a little of the self-imposed angst some of you go through on a daily basis, wondering if you're going to screw up your kids one day by what you're doing today. I only think that maybe once, twice-ish a week. :)
What I do know is being a parent, especially a mother, is hard. And awesome. We should be supporting each other in loving our kids the best way we can, not judging other mothers for doing something we haven't/wouldn't think of trying. Do you hear that TIME magazine?!
Love your kids. Love ALL kids. Love your spouse. Love your parents, because, holy cow did we not realize how hard they had it with US!

Last question of the day:  Someone help me understand 8th grade graduation. I don't get it! What is the deal? In my day, we got high school graduation. That's it. You shouldn't get an award for simply getting old enough to make it to the next grade. Should you? Is that the sound of helicopter blades I hear? :) Helicopter Parents
Just kidding. I think.

FINALLY, I leave you with photos of Sirs O & P:
Last Sunday.
A walk in the woods.
Well spent.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully said. You make me so proud.