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We’re All “Mom Enough”

Babywearing

My little guy, happy in his sling

Congratulations, moms! Society has found a new way for us to fail.

As much as I tried to avoid doing so, I have to discuss last week’s provocative cover of Time Magazine. You know the one.

It’s weird. It’s controversial. It’s challenging.

So what?

I admit, at first glance, I thought it was depicting another one of those inappropriate teacher-student relationships. (Sorry for the mental image.)

But, no. It’s a gorgeous, stylish mom, breastfeeding her 3-year-old son. And now, people all over are judging her and weighing in on her parenting decisions.

The funny thing is the article isn’t really about breastfeeding at all; it’s about attachment parenting. I won’t go into the details on what that is — I don’t really feel I’m qualified to discuss it. I don’t even know if I would be called an attached parent or not.

Yes, I practice “babywearing.” The sling is a great way to tote my baby around, simple as that. (Also, I don’t know how “attached” I am, since in the photo above, I’m not actually wearing the sling. I’m the one in the background enjoying a glass of wine.)

No, I don’t co-sleep with my son. Frankly, I’m afraid if he and I sleep and nurse in my bed, we’ll never leave it. The dishes will pile up; the dogs will starve to death; before I know it, he’ll be 3 and we’ll be on the cover of Time.

Yes, I make homemade baby food. Trust me, if this were any more complicated than putting a sweet potato in the oven, it’d be beyond me.

No, I didn’t have exclusively positive, affirming thoughts throughout my pregnancy. Any mom who didn’t spend some of her pregnancy in bed with a bag of marshmallows is a stronger gal than me.

Whether you’re practicing attachment parenting, helicopter parenting or whatever else, you’re probably just trying to do the best you can. Despite the wealth of parenting books out there, babies don’t come with an instruction manual. Aren’t we all just trying to figure it out one day at a time?

My state’s recent inability to love thy neighbor, to live and let live, has made me suddenly hyper-aware of all the ways we pass judgment on each other. And based on what? As a society, we’re not exactly knocking it out of the park.

According to the National Poverty Center, 22% of our nation’s children are living in poverty.

One out of every three American children is considered to be overweight or obese.

One-third of our country’s fourth grade public school students are at or below the “Basic” reading level.

So why are we worrying about this healthy, well cared for child?

I was inspired to finally write about this subject after reading an amazing commentary titled, Wake Up Moms — You’re Fighting the Wrong Fight! I was hooked by the second paragraph, just after reading this line:

I’m sorry – I’m busy perfecting my “style” of parenting. I just like to call it “parenting” and it involves me making sure my child stays alive. It’s working out pretty well for us so far.

Amen, sister. Whether or not you agree with the author’s perspective that our country’s standards for maternity leave are deplorable (I do, by the way), she makes a great point. Why are we moms wasting our time judging each other? Isn’t our job hard enough?

I have no idea if my style of parenting would meet society’s approval or not. I really don’t care. I’m just doing the best I can. I don’t know a mom who doesn’t question herself every single day.

As for the breastfeeding mom? She’s taking care of her son the most effective way she knows. And let’s not forget: breastfeeding isn’t exactly a walk in the park. It’s one of the most selfless things a mom can do for her child, and it’s really, really hard (at least for me).

And still, that beautiful mom probably looked at that photo of herself and found something to criticize.

I say, bravo to her. Bravo to you. Bravo to me.

We’re all doing the best we can.

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4 responses »

  1. what a gorgeous picture of your son! he’s beautiful! i agree about the article on Time. It’s a controversy on how people want to perceive it. it’s the big mouths out there that make a big deal about it and make it look bad. do i agree with nursing a 3 year old? i’ve never gotten that far in nursing to be allowed an opinion about it, so i have no right to judge. perhaps those other big-mouthed people need to walk in someone else’s shoes first before they can have a say in something.

    Reply
  2. I love this post! I saw a quote once that said “When you judge someone it says more about you than it does about them”. That has stuck with me. It’s so true. If everyone got off their soap boxes for a minute and tried to show each other some kindness and understanding we all be better off.

    Reply
  3. Stacey,
    I have been reading through your blog and loving your insights. I especially love this post.

    Motherhood is so hard without a hundred different sources telling us we’re doing it “wrong.”

    That said, some mothers need help. Since I know you support breastfeeding, I thought you might be interested in sharing with your readers a way to help premature babies by donating their excess breast milk. You can learn more here: Can I send you some information about this?

    As a mom of a full-term infant who spent time in the NICU (thankfully he is fine now!), I can definitely sympathize with the situation of those mothers. I know I would have loved to know about anything that could help him, or other babies in his situation.

    I love the blog, I’ll continue reading!

    Reply

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