I’m pretty pissed off about the Time magazine cover article, Are You Mom Enough? I can’t help but want to know what moron decided that mothers need more reasons to pin themselves against one another. Moms who work verses those who stay home, moms who breastfeed verses those who don’t, moms who co-sleep verses those who let them cry it out. Guess what, there isn’t just one answer for every mom!
If you think letting your child cry it out is what is best for you, your family and your child – then go at it. I couldn’t do it. Couldn’t. I tried it. I was desperate – my first born never slept and hardly napped. I was willing to do just about anything to get her to go to sleep. So I tried letting her cry it out. I thought I would throw up. Then my husband would take her – and walk her downstairs so I wouldn’t hear her sobbing. But I could feel her sobbing. I couldn’t sleep. For a while, we did a version of the Ferber method, but checked in on her more frequently and gave up after a certain time period. It worked sometimes, and other times she was back in bed with us. She still didn’t sleep. She poked at me, twirling about the bed. But she was mostly quiet, and we slept. She’s nine now. And guess what folks? She sleeps just fine all by herself. When my second child was born, I didn’t bother trying to get her to sleep on her own. She was a sleeper. And she slept beautifully in bed with us. When she was around four – a few months after she weaned (yes, I nursed her until she was 4) – I did become aggravated with having her in bed with us every night. So we began the process of having her fall asleep on her own. My husband or I would lie down next to her in her bed until she fell asleep. We did this for many, many months. She’s six now. She mostly falls asleep on her own, and frequently crawls into bed with us at night. When she goes a long stretch without doing so, I miss it. I miss her – and miss my baby snuggling close to my breast in the middle of the night. I’m happy I did it for as long as I did.
My story is about me and my experience. If you bottle fed and had your children cry it out – I’m sure you did so because that was the best scenario for you. That’s what felt right for you. Amazing, isn’t it, how one thing can be so right for one person and so wrong for another? Really – mothers are all not the same. Children are all not the same. Why should we be expected to raise them the same? If there is no abuse or harm being done to a child –then shouldn’t we all at least respect one another’s decisions, even if it isn’t what we would choose for ourselves?
It’s been said that a mother is born the day her child is. And I believe there is truth to that. However, motherhood lies in the heart of a woman - a woman with her own feelings, thoughts and passions - a woman with life experiences that have shaped how she goes about being a mother. And a child is part of everything a woman is.
Is breastfeeding healthier? Yes, it is. However, if a woman is having a hell of a time, the baby is struggling, the breasts are infected, and the mother is in a pool of distress, it may be emotionally healthier to have other options. Of course, I would lean toward seeing a lactation consultant or join a Le Leche League – but that’s me. That would be my advice to someone. If you don’t want to take my advice – don’t.
It’s interesting to me that this Time article has pinned attachment parenting types to be the ones hammering down mother’s throats how one “should” mother. For myself, I went to Le Leche League to get support from other women who understood the way in which I wanted to go about mothering my child. It really was the only place I felt I could talk to other women who understood me. At regular play dates and while standing in the pre-school pick up line – I heard mostly from moms who spoke harshly against those who still slept with their children, or breastfed after the teeth had come in. I heard all those voices shouting at me very loudly. It seems more socially acceptable to be “un-attached” - to cut the cord and teach your child from babyhood on to be independent and somewhat self sufficient. Oddly enough – I was the quiet mom (well – some of the time I kept quiet) – doing the exact thing these other women were telling me was so “weird”. I did fear that maybe I was attaching myself to my girls too much – maybe I was too in tune to their emotional needs. I struggled with my choices. In the end – I have to say – I have extremely independent kids. My nine year old is so independent it now pains me. I want her to be more attached. I miss my baby. But I love the little, independent girl she has become.
I’m so happy I mothered the way I felt was best for me – and that I found women at Le Leche League who supported how I chose to mother, even if it wasn’t the “norm”. I see mother’s who choose attachment parenting as the ones constantly having to defend themselves – and are the ones most afraid to speak out on how long they breastfed and co-slept with their children.
Then our little 80’s icon, Mayim Bialik, aka Blossom, had the nerve to write a book promoting attachment parenting. And to boot – she’s an intelligent doctor – who can speak eloquently and is familiar enough that many mothers identify with her. That really rubbed some the wrong way – how dare one way of mothering challenge another? So – let’s sensationalize the hell out of it – get an overgrown three year old – in the most un-natural breastfeeding position ever - and have him chomp down on his mother’s breast like he’s eating a hamburger. That really should freak people out! The article should really be titled “Enquiring Minds Want to Know, How Disgusting Is Breastfeeding?” Really now, this is the stuff playground fights are made of. Can’t we as mothers and women see above these bullying tactics?
I see things from the other side now. My children are no longer babies or toddlers. I see other children – who did cry it out and were bottle fed – who are older now, and are kind, well-adjusted kids. These are family decisions. And as women, we should exercise loving one another as much as we exercise judging one another. The only discussion on the table should be how Time magazine has lost all journalistic integrity – and on the backs of all mothers out there.