Monday, May 14, 2012

Mom enough? Sure am!

Whoa, whoa, whoa! 
So I was just sitting down for my morning email/facebook-check and coffee when I was confronted with - no, bombarded with a barrage of tweets, news articles, comments on articles, blogs, comments on blogs and this:
Apparently I'm a few days behind, since I was, rather ironically, busy parenting my two sons and enjoying Mother's Day.  However, the question "Are you mom enough?" has been on my mind for a long time. Two years, eleven months and twenty-one-and-a-half days to be exact, which is the age of my first son plus nine-months in-vitro.

I think all mothers, regardless of parenting-philosophy ask themselves this question over and over.  The debate starts well before a crying baby is placed in your arms, and arguably before sperm meets egg and conception happens.  Will I be a good mother? Am I a good mother? What is a good mother?

The last few days have seen much debate on motherhood, attachment parenting and what makes a good mom. Here's a sampling of what's out there, in case you missed it:

Kate Pickert's article in Time is about attachment parenting, a phrase coined by Dr. William Sears, a much-revered parenting expert.  Pickert outlines the so-called requirements of attachment parenting; co-sleeping, baby-wearing, extended breastfeeding... and speculates that this philosophy toward child-rearing may be causing women to be a little over-zealous and possibly to expect too much of other women who may not be doing the same thing.

From CBC's The Current website:
In her new book, The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women, the French feminist philosopher Elisabeth Badinter doesn't take long to stir the pot.

The object of this book is to defend the right of women to make their own choices and to take issue with this idea that you are a bad mother if you bottle feed your baby, if you put your kid in daycare and if you work. And what bothers me terribly is that because of this return to nature, the idea is that there is now this one unique model of motherhood which implies that everyone who doesn't fit that model should be condemned.
Some commentary on this book from a few women:

From Dr. Claire McCarthy, who practiced attachment parenting:
http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/mdmama/2012/05/what_being_mom_enough_really_means.html

From Stephanie Peatling, Australian Political Correspondent:

I also read in the newspaper this morning about the new movie "What to Expect When You're Expecting," based on the pregnancy book.  Wow.  Life for moms just gets better when all your trials and tribulations are being foisted upon the world from Hollywood's perspective too.

In my humble opinion, trying to wade through the wreckage that is the age-old parenting debate is difficult at best.  Until I had my kids, I didn't know anything about parenting except what I'd gleaned from my own upbringing, and now, I know too much. It's a case of information overload.  As parents we've entered the candy store with a zillion choices and the idea that we just want the best that's out there.

I actually shed tears this morning thinking about the incredible pressure that women are under to be good mothers.  The modern mother is not only expected by our society to have and nurture babies, but to look amazing, have a clean home and on top of that, a fulfilling career outside the home either before, after or during parenthood.  I keep asking myself whether or not these are societal pressures, or if we, as women, have imposed these upon ourselves. 

I cry out for the mother who would like to read stories to her children before bed at night, but can't because she's got to work two jobs to pay their rent.  Would anyone question her quest to put food on the table and keep a roof over her children's head?

I cry out for the stay-at-home mom who attends her ten-year high-school reunion and feels inferior when she finds that most of her female classmates have had fulfilling careers thus far as lawyers and doctors and journalists and still look as young as they did at eighteen.

I cry for the women who feel like they need to be everything to everyone. The women who feel they need to raise children using methods prescribed by society and not their own common sense or intuition; The women who feel they must "one-up" their friends by finding the best methods to teach their children to eat, sleep, talk or walk. The women so hell-bent on being supermom that they forget to do what's most important - just loving your children in whatever form that takes.

There are mothering techniques that have merit and those that don't.  However, those that don't tend to go by the wayside pretty quickly, like the post-Depression-era idea that if you pick up crying babies, they'll want an unhealthy amount of attention (source: my Grandma). 

I think a lot is expected of mothers - and rightly so.  We have been given the responsibility of raising the future generation.  This could be (and is) looked at by some as a huge burden, a daunting task that will take time, energy and sacrifice.  It is and it will. 

It is also, and I think, above all, a gift.  We have the chance to raise the future generation; to play the biggest part in forming the young people that will grow up to inherit our world; we give them the foundation for which they base their lives.  So I think, instead of thinking about the best way to do it, we should embrace the challenge and simply live it.

1 comment:

  1. Jessica, this was really great! I agree with you all around I think. I'm so tired of the mom-fighting over simple things and classifying how we raise our children. Glad you wrote about it!

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