NY TIMES: Motherhood vs. Feminism


I Am Mom! Enough! Carnival buttonWelcome to the I Am Mom! Enough! Carnival hosted by Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama and Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children.
This Carnival is dedicated to empowering ALL parents who practice and promote and peaceful, loving, attachment parenting philosophy. We have asked other parents to help us show the critics and the naysayers that attachment parenting is beautiful, uplifting, and unbelievably beneficial and NORMAL!
In addition to the Carnival, Joni from Tales of a Kitchen Witch and Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy are co-hosting a Linky Party. Please stop by either blog to share any of your posts on the topic.
Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Post topics are wide and varied, and every one is worth a read.

***********

 

The NY Times has a forum debating motherhood vs. feminism. Time magazine is treating attachment parenting like an extreme sport.

It has always distressed me that the very definition of what a feminine being can do – create and sustain life – could possibly be considered anti-feminist a priori. I derive a huge amount of my feminine identity from motherhood and the abilities of my body. I gravitate toward attachment parenting because it is convenient, not because I believe in some major give-fest. I breastfeed and co-sleep because it is easier to roll over than run to the other room in the middle of the night warming formula – I babywear because it is easier to have a calm baby than a fussy one, and because strollers are unwieldy. I place no judgement on the women who can’t or choose not to do the same. But in the category of women who can’t, many would find breastfeeding easier without formula pushing or routine separation from their babies shortly after birth. If no one teaches women how to wear their babies comfortably, and mass marketers push us to buy all kinds of equipment to make our babies need us less, of course we’ll assume carrying them is a sacrifice.

It is curious to me that first year residents are encouraged to devote themselves completely to their hospitals, but women are considered martyrs for devoting themselves to their babies in the first year of life. Just like residency, the early years of your child’s life are fleeting and may merit extra time commitments. To assert that it is motherhood against feminism means we have gotten used to a very low-bar version of feminism. Our workforce is largely masculinely-designed. A true feminism would campaign for access to proper maternity (and paternity) leave, flexible work hours, flexible site locations, on-site daycare, breastfeeding-normative environments, and empowering birth and early-motherhood experiences. We devote a huge amount of time, money, and effort to our educations and our careers – yet we’ve rarely held an infant and almost never seen a birth before our own. It makes sense that we are largely unprepared for motherhood, and feminist initiatives should help women in all of their endeavors both in and out of the home. Please don’t blame your baby – hold accountable the laws of the land and your benefits package.

Women are tough – they can do anything a man can do – they can give birth! – now let’s see if we can put a feminine touch on feminism. Powerful, AND caring, nurturing, sensitive women affecting global change can be the goal of feminism as well as equal pay for equal work. If you don’t want to breastfeed – don’t. If you don’t want to run around to little league games – don’t. If motherhood feels corny and unfulfilling to you, stop playing them canned children’ music and ditch a few of those plastic beeping toys. Pop on some cool music and create a motherhood that feels authentic to you. Children are adaptable and will recover from warfare, let alone your departures from either attachment parenting or Cry-It-Out parenting (and let’s face it – the “don’t pick him up you’re gonna spoil him!” zealots have been causing women to doubt themselves a lot longer in this society than attachment zealots). Let’s stop the mother blaming, “you spend too much time with the kids,” “you don’t spend enough time with your kids!” Embrace and support other women.

I’m not completely gloriously happy with motherhood at all times, and I do recognize that sometimes our children’s (and partners’, friends’, employers’) needs come head to head with our own. But we are really bad at seeing the ways that our children’s needs match ours. At your birth you probably heard- “oh, your baby is a stubborn one, she won’t move down…” We are pit against our children right from the start. If you are made to believe your child needs not just school, and not just pre-school, but also preschool prep, of course we don’t trust that we’re supposed to enjoy the time we’re spending with our kids. We’re very comfortable asserting what our machines need to run – and knowing what our companies need to run. Why can’t we be honest about what our kids need? All people including children need touch, fresh air, nourishment, shelter among other things to thrive. Give women the proper skills to nurture their babies when they’re babies – spend time with them when they’re toddlers – maybe that investment will pay dividends to our future generation of leaders (not to mention when you wish your kids would want to hang out with you).

As a birth and postpartum doula, I am privileged to witness firsthand that men and women are different – I know and remember this constantly attending births – so let’s spend less time as feminists making women be like men, and more time normalizing the needs and cycles and strengths of women. Call a spade a spade – the modern workforce isn’t flexible enough, and our peer learning isn’t broad enough to support your parenting ideal. Let’s accept that there is a wide range of acceptable nurturing, and also try to set our mothering goals to a reasonable height. Better yet, let’s stop teaching the next generation that overachieving is appropriate in either the workforce or the home. Let’s idolize the leisure class more than the “I am busier than thou” class. Don’t go blaming your children. Don’t go blaming motherhood and other moms. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Mother toddler nursing pair from WHO's website... as my friend Lisa said, "I suppose this headline doesn't sell magazines: Extended Breastfeeding Is So Boring: Women Do It All Over The World"

 

***********

Thank you for visiting the I Am Mom! Enough! Carnival hosted by hosted by Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama and Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants and check out previous posts at the linky party hosted by Joni from Tales of a Kitchen Witch and Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon May 28 with all the carnival links.)

  • Good Enough? — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy writes about how Good Enough is not Good Enough, if you use it as an excuse to stop trying.
  • The High Cost of High Expectations JeninCanada at Fat and Not Afraid shares what it’s like to NOT feel ‘mom enough’ and wanting to always do better for herself and family.
  • TIME to Be You! — Becky at Old New Legacy encourages everyone to be true to themselves and live their core values.
  • I am mom and I have had ENOUGH — A mother had had ENOUGH of the mommy wars.
  • Motherhood vs. Feminism — Doula Julia at juliamannes.com encourages feminists to embrace the real needs and cycles and strengths of women.
  • There Is No Universal Truth When It Comes To Parenting — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses how parenting looks around the world and why there is no universal parenting philosophy.
  • Attachment Parenting Assumptions — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings argues that attachment parenting is not just for the affluent middle-classes, and that as parents we all need to stop worrying about our differences and start supporting each other.
  • Thoughts on Time Magazine, Supporting ALL Mamas, and Advocating for the Motherless — Time Magazine led That Mama Gretchen to think about her calling as a mother and how adoption will play an important role in growing her family.
  • Attachment Parenting: the Renewed Face of Feminism — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children embraces her inner feminist as she examines how the principles of attachment parenting support the equal treatment of all.
  • What a Mom Wants! — Clancy Harrison from Healthy Baby Beans writes about how women need to support each other in their different paths to get to the same destination.
  • Attachment Parenting: What One Family Wants You To Know — Jennifer, Kris, 4 year old Owen and 2 year old Sydney share the realities of attachment parenting, and how very different it looks than the media’s portrayal.
  • We ALL Are Mom Enough — Amy W. of Amy Willa: Me, Mothering, and Making It All Work thinks that all mothers should walk together through parenthood and explores her feelings in prose.
  • A Typical Day Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares what a typical day with her attached family looks like…all in the hopes to shed light on what Attachment Parenting is, what it’s not and that it’s unique within each family!
  • The Proof is in the (organic, all-natural) Pudding — Kym at Our Crazy Corner of the World talks about how, contrary to what the critics say, the proof that attachment parenting works in visible in the children who are parented that way.
  • I am mom and I have had ENOUGH A mother had had ENOUGH of the mommy wars.
  • Time Magazine & Mommy Wars: Enough! What Really Matters? — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter encourages moms to stop fighting with each other, and start alongside each other.
  • Attachment parenting is about respect — Lauren at Hobo Mama breaks down what attachment parenting means to her to its simplest level.
  • I am an AP mom, regardless… — Jorje ponders how she has been an Attachment Parenting mom regardless of outside circumstances at Momma Jorje.
  • The first rule of Attachment Parenting is: You Do Not Talk about Attachment Parenting — Emily discusses, with tongue aqnd cheek, how tapping into our more primal selves actually brings us closer to who we are rather than who we think we should be.
  • Mom, I am. — Amy at Anktangle discusses how Attachment Parenting is a natural extension of who she is, and she explains the ways her parenting approach follows the “live and let live” philosophy, similar to her beliefs about many other areas of life.