Yesterday was one of THOSE mothering days. To begin with I was sleep deprived – not the normal sleep deprivation that one suffers as a mother of two young children which is already difficult – but the sleep deprivation that comes from your 3-year-old keeping you up for three nights in a row. Add to that, “I” was also dangerously sleep-deprived which never makes for a good day. Also “J” was out of town all day due to church business.
I wanted the day to be better. I had high hopes of over-coming my sleep-deprived anger issues with a bunch of fun little craft projects and playtime with some super cool toys while listening to music. But it was not to be. Every single project I attempted with “I” somehow managed to end in a giant yelling match between the two of us over issues such as “no “I”, you are too young to use mommy’s rotary cutter and mommy does not want to take you in for stitches” and “if you put you fingers under the sewing machine needle it WILL sew your finger.” Then “G” wanted to be held all the time – which while I love snuggling it also means I do nothing else. I didn’t get the shower I desperately needed and I still have no clue whether or not I was able to brush my teeth. By the time “J” came home the situation between “I” and myself was truly ugly. Bedtime then culminated with “J” receiving a bloody nose when “I” smacked her forehead into it, and “I” leaving her bedroom to come out, pull down her pants, and yell “daddy, look at my butt”.
As I said before, it was a hard parenting day.
Later that day, as bedtime was finally done and things were calming down, I decided to pull out my computer and do some harmless, stress-reducing web browsing. That’s when I saw the TIME Magazine cover plastered every where. Honestly, I saw the fact that this woman had perfect hair and makeup and was skinny way before I saw the breast-feeding 3-year-old. Reading the accompanying articles didn’t help. Welcome back to the horrible pop culture creation called “mommy wars” – where mothering is a competitive contact sport and every single decision you make simultaneously makes you a self-righteous judgmental shrew and fails your children because you are doing EVERYTHING wrong. The newest opponent in the battle that most recently included Chinese mothering and French mothering is attachment parenting – paired of course with one of the favorite contenders: feminism. The sampling of articles on the TIME website include titles such as:
“How Feminism Begat Intensive Mothering”
“Parents Do What’s Right for Them, Not for the Kids”
“Quiz: What’s Your Parenting Style”
“Confessions of an Accidental Attachment Parent”
And here are a couple of my favorite infuriating quotes:
“If they’re giving up so much to raise this new human, they’re going to make sure the kid is raised like a blue chip stock price.” – How Feminism Begat Intensive Mothering by Belinda Luscombe
“From the labor room onward, women strive to overdeliver. Attachment parenting requires sacrifice, dedication, strategizing and a lot of long hours doing thankless tasks. In other words, it’s exactly like climbing the corpousorate ladder. Except there is no glass ceiling. Or annual bonus.” – How Feminism Begat Intensive Mothering by Belinda Luscombe
What frustrates me the most about the pop culture mommy wars is that there is no place within them for honest discussion or a generous give and take of ideas. Instead it attempts to pit mother against mother for their parenting choices thus encouraging massive amounts of guilt, suspicion, and mistrust among women. This is tragic because mothering is one of those times where you really need other women and other moms not just to bounce ideas against, but to get advice and support because mothering is hard! I completely agree with Lisa Belkin’s response in the Huffington Post: “Motherhood is — should be — a village, where we explore each other’s choices, learn from them, respect them, and then go off and make our own.”
Mothering is hard – we all know this! You are trying to facing challenges of sleep deprivation, finances, energy, and lifestyle changes. You are either struggling as a a single parent or muddling with the changes that parenting brings between you and your partner. You are trying to be the EPA, USDA, FDA, APA, ACOG, PhD, and an MD about issues regarding childbirth, toys, formula, breast-feeding, food, childcare work, household cleaning supplies, sleeping arrangements, etc. You are trying to figure out your identity amidst giving so much to the little ones in your care. And you are trying to manage the massive guilt issues that come with trying to do right by these lives in your care while worrying that you are not doing enough or doing it right. Mothers have enough to navigate without the media telling us that we should be fighting and competing with each other as well.
Now in all fairness we all know some of those competitive moms. But the overwhelming majority of us are at worst trying to survive and at best trying to do our darnedest to raise decent, healthy and hopefully happy human beings.
So yes TIME, I am mom enough . . .
I am mom enough to get through a day with insufficient sleep from the past several nights.
I am mom enough to offer my family healthy food options the majority of the time and unhealthy options at those points where I am too tired and overwhelmed to do anything beyond feed them.
I am mom enough to support my friend’s parenting choices even if they differ from my own.
I am mom enough to carry my baby in a sling and a stroller.
I am mom enough to ask for help, advice, research the options and make my own decisions.
I am mom enough to appreciate the importance of art projects, reading and free play in my children’s development and the importance of television and computers during those times where I need to make dinner, feed the younger child, or simply don’t have the energy for anything else.
I am mom enough to have ideals and the humility and grace to recognize when I don’t live up to them or have to change them.
I am mom enough to value all the other moms around me who are also trying their best and thereby not compete with them or unfairly judge them.
I am mom enough to realize that the media created “mommy wars” are beyond ridiculous and that I need other mothers too much to buy into this distasteful piece of pop culture.