Thursday, May 10, 2012

Why can't we all just be a mom? [My response to the cover of Time]

Every mom seems to be sporting a pin, with the overarching slogan being "I believe this with the strength of a mountain and should you believe otherwise I will bury you alive." 

My response to this week's cover of Time 

This week's cover of Time Magazine has parents everywhere reacting—raising eyebrows, fists and many questions about the "rights" and "wrongs" of mothering. Featured on the cover is a real-life mom (though she looks more like a model, another point of contention) breastfeeding her almost four year old. For effect, he is standing on a chair to reach her breast. 

The issue marks the anniversary of Dr. Sears' book, known for creating a movement of mothers who co-sleep, wear their babies and, as the cover tries hard to shockingly convey, choose to breastfeed their children way into toddlerhood. We've all heard of Attachment Parenting, but this Time cover just turned up the volume on the conversation by asking in bold print, "Are You Mom Enough?" 

It's not surprising that this question, which brazenly pits moms against one another, is raised in association with Attachment Parenting. Defined by moms who harold "a better way" to parent, often in direct combat with the recommendations of the AAP or what's been considered by our society to be "normal," AP is hallmarked by an emphasis on honoring intuition, mother-child bonding and overall enriching your child's health and development through, well, attachment. In other words, being the best, most respectful, most sensitive and attached parent. But the thing is, most parents that believe in the AP bible would argue that it's not just another form of parenting, but the only way to raise happy, healthy children. I have many friends and also follow celebrities who tout the virtues of AP (the wonderful Mayim Bialik, for one), and I have yet to hear the tiniest glimmer of the sentiment that it just might not be for everyone. To me, there is tremendous virtue in the method of parenting, but not in the actual style. I steer clear of women wearing "Mommy Superstar" capes.

But while AP parents may be easy bait for accusations of holier-than-thou parenting, any mom can be guilty of the same. It's a saddening, deep punch to the very core of mothering, but let's face it: no mom is naive or immune to the often combattive, insulting, and utterly hostile field that motherhood seems to increasingly play. Time Magazine's question hit it on the nail. 

I am a mother who believes in both hospital and home births. I can proclaim both the benefits of using an epidural and the gains in birthing sans drugs. I know that pacifiers are a gift from God, but also something to question. There's something undeniably natural and beautiful about sleeping with your baby, but also something undeniably inconvenient and...well, not for everyone. But I don't find that a lot of mothers out there are like me. Every mom seems to be sporting a pin, with the overarching slogan being "I believe this with the strength of a mountain and should you believe otherwise I will bury you alive." 

The nation is talking a lot about bullying in schools. But what about the bullying going on everyday among parents? Full grown adults who prey on the weaknesses in another parent's looks, actions and beliefs? 
Why can't we all just be a mom? Not supermom, not powermom, not mom "enough"—just a mom, worthy of praise and honor by virtue of her card-carrying, sacred membership. Someone please tell me this is possible...

It's every parent's right to make decisions they feel proud about, even to the naysay of her peers or the whole of society, and expect respect. Motherhood is sensitive enough with its daily barrage of emotional and physical highs and lows. Only if we're pit against each other will we lose our mojo altogether. 

The women who says "gross" to the Times cover is just as guilty as the woman who judges a mom for not breastfeeding. Slandering hospital births is a crime just like discouraging a home birth. Every woman has their inner compass they must follow. And is it up to us, their fellow motherers, to remain committed to the greater mom morales that band us together. Whether its in our own bed or in the crib in the other room, we all kiss our kids to sleep. Whether we breastfeed or not, we are our children's' soul nurturer. Whether cloth or throw-out, we change a lot of diapers. Whether we parade them in a stroller or wear them in a sling, all our kids are close to our heart.

Imagine if we saw every mother as "mom enough" simply by the status of her mothership. Imagine  if we trusted that every mother is parenting in a way that is good and healthy for her and her family. Imagine if we were able to discuss lovingly the pros and cons of each parenting style, but most of to not see it that way at all. 

14 LadyMama voices:

Yaffa said... [Reply to comment]

As usual, beautifully written, Mimi.
This was exactly my reaction, so thanx for putting into words.
You have an amazing gift of clarity and expression and I love reading your blog.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Very well written, but frequently mother's are guilty of TMI, which invites intrusive comments. Don't post your distrust of immunizations on facebook and them complain that people are bullying.

Mimi Hecht said... [Reply to comment]

Anonymous, not sure what you're referring to. Must be something very far back that offended you?

I immunize my kids, so...


Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Mmmm hmmm. I agree. I would love for everyone to celebrate diversity in motherhood. Alas, not so simple. Lately, I made a decision to not discuss any details of my upcoming birth with people, because I was getting negative comments from people who do things differently. So obnoxious. Why can't we all be open to the amazing amount of choice we have in this country. We're so lucky. First world problems, indeed.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I'm sorry, I didn't express that well. I didn't mean you in particular, I mean in general people post things unnecessarily in public forums that generate controversy.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

To each its own - no one has a right to judge. We (moms) choose what to do. If our choice is not harming our kids then it’s the best choice

ssarahnybk said... [Reply to comment]

Hi Mimi, Just came about your blogs recently, love your open-mindness, and your gift of truly expressing your writing...!! I enjoy reading your keep them coming!! =)

mamawee said... [Reply to comment]

thanks for stopping by Tales of Mommyhood - your article is amazing - so well written!

I think everyone should stop judging how others parent and start worrying about how THEY parent their own child

Etta deVries said... [Reply to comment]

Very well written Mimi! I couldnt agree with you more! We all find our own path in life/motherhood. I know that what one mother does will not necessarily work for me and vice long as my child is happy/safe (which is really the most important aspects that I can provide) then whose to judge the 'method to my madness'. Keep expressing your open views, if for nothing else then to be a role model for all of us to be able to share and be open to sharing.

Mimi Hecht said... [Reply to comment]

@Etta deVries So good to hear from you, Etta!

Couldn't agree more...any mom committed to HAPPY AND SAFE is mom "enough' for me!

thanks for taking the time to comment! <3

Mimi Hecht said... [Reply to comment]


Thanks for visiting! Enjoying your blog!

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I love your question about bullying. In my own reaction to this cover I lamented the fact that some people may not be able to get past it to read the actual article, which early reviews claim to be thoughtful and not as cheaply provocative as the cover image/question. I think that if a mom is thinking about these issues (whatever her opinion) then she cares about parenting and is therefore "MOM ENOUGH"!

Sarah said... [Reply to comment]

Beautifully written. I've been paying more attention to things like this lately because I'll be a mom before summer is over. It seems like no matter what a mom does, some other mom is criticizing it!

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Actually, Mayim Byalik explicitly always says that "this is not for everyone, but it is our choice." You can see this in her interview on The View.
As a frum woman who was raised with attachment parenting and is now raising my child in the same way, I can tell you that in the frum community, there is little or no support for this kind of "hippie" parenting. Everyone is using traditional cribs and formula, with little talk about bringing your baby into your bed or exclusive breastfeeding. As frum people, I think that we have to understand that while everyone gets to have their choice, we do not need to be outspoken about a way of parenting, or judge people.
I have been judged for my parenting technique (in line with Dr. Sears').
Additionally, I think that this is the way people were feeding and caring for their children in the times of the Tanach.
Why can't we respect each other's parenting?