Sunday, May 13, 2012

Enough Said: Mom Enough

Photo Credit: Martin Schoeller for TIME
Much has been said about Jamie Lynne Grumet's cover photo on TIME magazine. Some good conversations have developed, as well as some hurtful words thrown at Jamie Lynne. I love how MomsLA, a blogging community in LA, Riverside and Orange Counties that I'm a member of, compiled a list of their bloggers' posts and articles surrounding it. Many writers put their thoughts and feelings way more eloquently than I can on this complex issue. You can read them all here.

In my perspective and experience, I am all for raising healthy and connected children. I've been able to exclusively breastfeed all three of my children for close to a year, and my last child to just past a year, all while working full time (except for the third one; I was unemployed). To accomplish that, it took some lifestyle change, sacrifice and commitment, but I felt it was well worth it. The bonding, nutrition and overall health benefits for me and the babies. I chose not to nurse in public though, so that was even more of a juggling act and timing.

Not everyone chooses to breastfeed their children, and that's their choice, but I do think everyone should at least try. I have several friends who say 'absolutely not', 'never', 'formula from day one' and that annoys me a little that they won't even get it a chance. I don't understand it. Then they are dealing with the double ear infections, tubes, what not. But, certainly there are arguments from those that say that it's unrelated; okay - whatever, I'm no scientist or expert.
Extended Babywearing a 4 year old
I've heard that when you nurse for an extended period of time, it lessens your chance for breast cancer. I'm all for that. It burns a ton of calories and helps you get back to your normal weight quicker. I'm all for that too. In terms of the philosophy of Attachment Parenting, I've tried out several of the techniques as I saw fit with positive results. Baby wearing, co-sleeping and responding to them quickly when they cried. They seemed to learn that I was there for them (dad too) when they needed me/us, and they could just be soothed easily. Then as they grow and become more independent, they require less of that 'coddling'.

Now that the kids are 6, 4 and 16 months, I'm less about attachment parenting and I'm more of a gentle, yet firm dictator. I don't need them to be attached to me - I need them to listen to me and follow my instructions. The chickadees only want me when they need something. The L'il Chicken Hawk is still babied to a certain extent but he doesn't want to nurse, cuddle or have me wear him in a sling or Bjorn. He's at the stage of exploring his world and he just wants me to be there to pick him up when he falls down or feed him (table food) every few hours.

What does this have to do with the TIME magazine article, Jamie Lynne, attachment parenting or if I'm Mom Enough? Nothing really. It's just a snippet of my life as a mom of three young children. I'm just one person in a SET OF PARENTS. I am all for having Dad raise the kids and co-parent equally, after we've passed the breastfeeding, nurturing stage. My identity isn't wrapped up just in being a mom - I also crave independence and solitude regularly. That's why I'm so happy my husband steps in and takes over here and there. I feel it's a great gift you can give your spouse to allow them the opportunity to have dad-time with the kids apart from you. To be able to learn and grown in his own style of parenting, to gain confidence in his abilities and to bond with his children (without being scrutinized by us all the time).

This morning we went to church, and being that it's mother's day, there was a lot of gushy sentiment over moms and their sacrifice for their children, how wonderful and sweet moms are, etc. I welled a little as I always do. As a mom, I hope my children appreciate everything I do for them, but most days, they take me for granted. And that's okay. I take them for granted too. But I also want to say for the record, that moms are not saints. We're not perfect and not all of us sacrifice completely and submit to our children. We're selfish, mean and bossy a lot of the time. So don't glorify moms; we're human, therefore imperfect.

My own mother would not be considered a subscriber to the Attachment Parenting philosophy; she probably doesn't even deserve a mother's day card. She will never win a Mother of Year award. There are no Hallmark cards for moms like her: selfish, reclusive, distant, detached, unemotional, uninterested, aloof, bitchy, impatient, neglectful and oblivious of the hurt she causes. Still, I sent her a heart-felt card, a necklace and I gave her a call. I tell her I love her. I continue to pray for her and for her to open herself up to love. I also pray for myself as a mom. To challenge myself to be a better mom and to remain connected to my children and their needs. To not close myself off to their feelings and their fragile spirits. To not become like my own mother.

Often times, I'm praying for a miracle for my mom and my disconnected family. But all I can do is make changes in the way I parent and treat my kids. For me, using some of the techniques of Attachment Parenting allowed me to heal from some of the wounds from my own childhood and better bond with my children. I was able to feel tender, vulnerable and give something to them that I wasn't given. Even if I'm a working mom, I can use those techniques to let them know I'm there for them and my love is a constant.

Some of the people in the comments sections of the articles say that it's all about the mom's selfish needs to extend breastfeeding. That it's child abuse. I think that's distorting it a bit. But you know what? Feeling needed and being the center of a child's universe is a glorious thing. It's also very fleeting. I like how Kristen Howerton puts it in her blog, Rage Against the Minivan, "Where is the Mommy War for the Motherless Child?" As a neglected child, my heart aches for the orphans who have no parents at all. Or what about the childless woman?

So, enough has been said about "Are You Mom Enough?" Most of us are mom enough or just plain good enough - (except my mom.)

1 comment:

  1. such a great post! Thanks so much for sharing all our posts!