So… I guess the “Mommy Wars” are back. This makes sense, because it’s an election year, and what better way to distract us from real issues than to ignite petty debates about whether or not stay-at-home moms work or if it is akin to child abuse if you breastfeed a child past the age of 2 hours. War? Economy? Immigration? Pollution? Fugggetaboudit!!!!!!! The real problem facing America is… Attachment Parenting! Oh, The Man, you clever rascal, you’ve done it again!
Of course, I don’t believe in “the man.” I believe in institutions and systems that work together in tangible, identifiable ways that could be targeted and transformed if we weren’t so exhausted engaging in debates that ultimately have nothing to do with policy. I include myself in this “we” because here I am, responding to Time magazine’s RIDICULOUS cover story, which asks: Are You Mom Enough? And features this image on the cover:
I don’t want to care about this AT ALL. I am a firm believer in parenting based on your child, not parenting based on an idea or theory. In my case, this means I breastfed my child for two years, and that she still (at age 3) sleeps in the bed with us. She also eats Cheetos and ice cream at will, watches tv, plays catch in the house, and takes a bath whenever she feels like it (which turns out to be pretty often.) That works for us. Other families thrive on routine and discipline, and that means something different for everyone. I used to be one of those people with a lot of ideas about What I Would Do If I Were A Parent and now I am one of those people who says Is This YOUR Child? Cuz If Not, You Should Shut It. Unless the person offering an opinion is one of my parents, in which case I take careful note and do the opposite of whatever they are suggesting. [Just kidding, My Parents...]
This magazine cover caught my eye not for its sensationalism, but because the woman on the cover is fabulous! When I was nursing, one of my boobs was (literally! NO EXAGGERATION!) twice the size as the other one and I had to wear a falsie to even it out. I also had frizzy hair and was constantly covered in baby goop, which you know when you see it. Is it spit? Milk? Something else? Who knows? It just gets on you. So good for this lady.
In the long run, though, this article is just making a big deal out of nothing. The real question is, why is there so much social pressure on individual parents to defend our parenting choices, when the larger problem is systemic and institutional? We don’t make decisions in a vacuum. We do what we can with what we have, and that means that most of us are making compromised choices. By getting caught up in these debates, or defensive about our choices, we’re playing into a political strategy that isn’t, in the long run, going to pay off for any of us. I want to argue about policies, not vague theories. I mean, come on! Are we going to vote on this?
Well… maybe. There are a lot of policies that would make things like extended breastfeeding easier to access for a wider population, but when the standard representation of breastfeeding is that it is something done by hyper-privileged “fringe” type moms, it is harder to garner support for legislation that facilitates access.
That’s The Man for ya… always turning molehills into mountains. And no, that’s not a boob joke. Well, I guess it is now.