TIME magazine has taken the “Look Ma, there’s another Ma who’s better than you!” media trope to a whole new level by disingenuously asking “Are You Mom Enough?” So if you’re “just” a mom and you’ve been thoroughly confused by the not-so-subtle subliminal media suggestion that you’re uncomfortable with your parenting choices or what to call yourself other than “mommy” — because apparently calling yourself a mom means that you have unwittingly undervalued and enslaved your womanhood — you’re not alone.
But this is what professional media Shit Disturbers and the I’m-not-judgmental Judgerati do. They create the bait in which we flock, like bees to honey. And we, the moms who don’t give a shit, are encouraged to roast the Mom du Jour and inflict our own personal feelings about motherhood onto her.
So who are “they,” you ask? “They” are the thousands of moms and feminists, and so-called feminist moms, who stand and passive aggressively judge and jury the myriad ways in which other moms are potentially harming themselves, and inadvertently their children, but never think about what they do that could be viewed as equally alarming, or harmful for that matter. To wit: the evisceration of Alicia Silverstone. You know the one in which Alicia, a Hollywood mother, viral-videos her way into mommy-infamy by she demonstrating how she masticates her son’s food and feeds it to him mouth to mouth? Ya, that.
When Mayim Bialik, a Hollywood actor cum neuroscientist cum book author mother, spoke about breastfeeding her child past the age of 3, mommies across America grimaced in horror. TIME magazine — hmm, strange coincidence or pattern? — author Bonnie Rochon, herself a mother who claims to be a breastfeeding advocate and who breastfed her own child just two months shy of her third birthday, had the balls to say, “Nursing even a hungry infant on the subway strikes me as fairly gross.” That’s right, she said “gross.” How old are we here? And is this the voice of female empowerment?
These are the stories that give me pause, but only because it’s not strictly men who police the bodies of women and try to legislate the ways in which women choose to interact with the children they care for; increasingly, and most vocally, it’s women. For example, did you know that modern motherhood undermines the status of women?
I didn’t either, but Hanna Rosin, a feminist mother who references and paraphrases French feminist Elizabeth Badinter – she wrote a book called The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines The Status Of Women – wants you to know that “Attachment Parenting seems joyless to
.” Yes, her. Forget that Rosin is not an Attachment Parenting mom; forget that she doesn’t know you or your family situation personally; forget that your notions about personal agency and body autonomy are mute subjects in this discussion, because in case you missed it, you and your joyless ilk are failing Womanhood. Yes you, and your belligerent, soul-sucking, personal agency-stealing — albeit, well-adjusted — children. Damn you all to hell!
You’re familiar with French feminist psychologist Corinne Maier, who said, “I really regret it. I really regret having children,” right? Well, she just might have popularized this whole anti-child notion that the recent bevy of unfulfilled women — not the childless or childless by choice, mind you — are devalued citizens because of what modern motherhood (in essence the burdensome task of raising children) “does” to the corporation of womanhood. Because let’s face it, boldly proclaiming that you actually prefer putting your child’s needs before your own means that you, young lady, are no supporter of women
! In fact, it is likely that you suffer from self-loathing, low self-esteem and you dislike women. Which of course means that you have little concern for your “plight” because your allegiance is to the little human beings with whom you have an inherent symbiotic relationship, and not The Sisterhood, you disloyal heretic!
But if we’re being logical — instead of judgmental, ahem — why is it inconceivable that a woman can be fulfilled by being “just” a mom? If a woman feels fulfilled by wearing her child, feeding on demand, making homemade lentil soup, and spending her days in non-stop contact with her offspring, while “ignoring nature in order to run behind her children and ply them with organic snacks” — really? — why do we presume that something is radically wrong with the woman? Why don’t we question the economic system that creates the hostile environment that perpetrates the notion that women’s work and/or choices should be the target for endless, mindless chatter? Why do we not turn the tables and reject the media-created Mommy Wars narrative whose specific purpose is to undermine, undervalue and scoff at women’s choices?
Indeed, it is fairly obvious to me that an AP mom does in fact meet some of her own needs by virtue of her making the decision to be an AP parent in the first place. In other words, this mom is satisfying her need to ensure that she is meeting the needs of her child. And if a woman personally feels satisfied, gratified and justified by this level of attachment to her child, why can’t we just leave it up to her good judgment? I personally have had many acquaintances ask, “How can you stand to be around you children all day?” and I’ve often wondered, well, why did you have children in the first place if you couldn’t? It’s an inexcusably snarky retort, of course, but I mention this to illustrate the level of judgment we place on women’s choices that are unlike ours; particularly those choices which seem uncharacteristically alien to those of us who made different choices.
If you’re not an AP mom but employ other moms to care for your children while you yourself work, what then? Certainly there are mitigating circumstances under which many of us employ nannies and childcare workers, many of whom are mothers themselves, but when we shame the working mother who is unable to raise her own children, why don’t we blame the model and not the mother? At the same time, why do we undervalue the voices, opinions, and narratives of the nannies and childcare workers who look after our children? When was the last time you heard her story?
As an AP parent, some days I want nothing more than to return to my previous life in order to re/experience the painstaking minutiae of Grown-Up Lady Problems. I really do! But having children was a move to break from that state. I will eventually return once I and my children are ready and yet, I find the privileged tone of the intellectual discussions surrounding what is considered “of value,” and that which is subjectively valued in motherhood are conveniently left out of discussions spearheaded by women who claim to care about my mental status. I mean, don’t you find that kind of alarming? Or am I missing something?
Now permit me to dispel a little rumor that doesn’t fit with the popular misconception about Attachment Parenting. One of the basic tenets of AP is that in order for this method of parenting to work it has to be mutually satisfying. Yes, it is child-led and child-centered, but if Mommy and Daddy aren’t able to see the reciprocal relationship through to its most “natural conclusion,” then it won’t work. Which means it is not for everyone. But the beauty of choice means it doesn’t have to be. And no, you are not a failure or a sell-out if it doesn’t work for you or if you decide to claim Just Mother status on your business card. You get to choose. That is feminist.
Also, I’m willing to be unpopular and state that these hypothetical pro-woman narratives that privilege seemingly un/burdened mothers are anti-child. Because if we’re to believe what the radical feminists tell us, child-bearing/rearing creates a biological power imbalance and, yes, “enslaves” women. Meaning that some of us don’t even get points for trying! But I have to ask, if feminism seeks the actualization of women, why doesn’t it fight to make women equal amongst ALL women?
The point, dear women, is that alternative methods to child-raising and non-mainstream points of view do not have to measure up to your subjective standards of parenting. In fact, these methods were designed without a mainstream audience in mind in order to give women a set of choices that best suit their lives, not yours. So I’m very curious as to why we care. And why do we mock and undermine the women who make different choices than us? Sometimes the round hole is just the round hole and couldn’t care less about fitting into the square peg.
At the end of the day, I have to find some way to appreciate the women who carry the torch for a womanhood that eschews “dictatorial children” and banishes them and their parents from so-called adult environments, and I also have to find a way to appreciate and respect the woman who does the complete opposite. Can you do this, too?