Happy June Everyone!
As I enter in to my second month of blogging I find myself pondering the subject of "audience". I really want to reach all moms since I am looking to promote change in the fabric of American culture. But how to do that? Moms come in so many diverse shapes, sizes, religions, beliefs, sexual orientations, child rearing strategies, economic backgrounds etc. Then it occured to me, the majority of moms have one things in common; they are all trying to do the best they can for their family and their children.
The subject of what has been called the "mommy wars" is something that I feel very strongly about. It drives me crazy when I hear a mother bashing another mother's decisions just because those same decisions do not necessarily work for the family of the dissenting mother.
Let me tell you a little about me;
I can tell you that when it comes to my own family I am a very fly-by-night parent. We have no schedule. We eat when the kids are hungry. Starman, the baby, sleeps when he sleeps and eats when he shows hunger cues. I don't pay much attention to the clock (unless it has been a rough day and I am counting the minutes until help arrives, ie: Daddy gets home). He sleeps in a co-sleeper next to our bed, or at least he is supposed to. Mostly I end up falling asleep nursing him and he spends the night plastered against me. Truthfully the girls did too. You might call me the accidental bed-sharer.
I am an exclusive and extended breast feeder. In my husband's opinon TOO extended. When Raindrop, my middle child, reached 32 months (in case you don't feel like doing math that would be 2 years and 8 months) my husband started making fairly pointed comments to the tune of, "Is she going to need to take a break from prom to come home and nurse?" My oldest goes to public school. My son is circumcised (yes we did the research). I let my kids watch what would probably be considered WAY too much television--I mean come on, it can be the best babysitter around! And I probably shouldn't mention the fact that I often get questioning looks when my daughters start re-enacting scenes from the British classic (and might I add, largely considered by the British to be family oriented) Dr. Who. The girls can name 85% of comic book characters and have seen every Star Wars except Episode 3 despite the fact that they are only 6 and 4.
And here is one more confession....
Despite repeated attempts to read up on all kinds of articles touting alternative discipline strategies to avoid yelling like a tornado siren on a clear day, I still go off with ear-splitting regularity whenever my girls start picking on each other. Somehow that "Hey! (or really) HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! is the only thing that can stop their arguing long enough to get their attention.
Then there is the most wonderful thing--I have a whole host of wonderful, creative, caring mommy friends that I can consult with on a regular basis and who help to make me a better mother and challenge me to step out of my own ideas of what's "right" and consider other options. I have gotten wonderful help and advice from all of them, and yet they are all so unique; different in their approach to mothering, different in their life circumstances and different in what they are passionate about. The ladies mentioned below are just a small selection of the women I am lucky enough to have in my life. They all have wonderful gifts that they have given me and I can't imagine my life without any of them in it.
---I have one friend who is an impressively dedicated homeschooler. She always agonizes over curriculum, goes to conferences, and reads up on how to create the next great learning experience. I am fairly certain that her children are getting a better and more consistent education than mine are. Honestly though, the idea of having my kids all day, every day, without a break kind of makes me want to commit myself, but, I take her ideas and utilize them during our summer break which makes those long stretches of empty time much more manageable. She is also who I call for gardening information because as I like to tell her, she is practically Mother Earth. She doesn't just garden either; she turns it into an Earth Science/Life Science lesson because she is always looking for that schooling angle.
---I have another friend who is a Vegan. She practices homeopathic remedies, unschools her kids, is an active "Intactavist" (anti-circumcision). She is also a doula who had her last two babies at home. And even though my children eat preservative laden meat, my son is circumcised and I chose an epidural delivery with my first two children, we still get along like two organic peas in a pod. And when I was stuck in labor with Mr. Starman at 22+ hours attempting to do it drug free, I couldn't think of a more knowledgeable and caring person to call on. She arrived, took charge of the situation and two hours later he arrived. She helped me have that natural delivery I had always hoped to have. I know I couldn't have done it without her. For that alone I will be forever grateful.
---Another dear friend of mine, who I have called for advice on many an occasion, is a career journalist. She works a full-time job, she formula feeds, she follows a fairly strict schedule (of which I am secretly jealous of) and puts the baby to sleep in his own room. She is an amazing mom! And when I decided that I was thinking about going back to work, she was the first one I called to get advice and to discuss the challenges and rewards of being a working mom. We also share many milestones and headaches together since our sons are a mere two months apart. She is my "be true to yourself too" cheerleader and I love her for it.
---Lastly, there is my best friend and college roommate. She is an organic, super extended breast feeder who practically ruined her back running an in-home childcare business just so she would be able to afford to stay home with her kids. That is amazing. That is dedication. She was honest when I told her I was thinking about going back to work and she told me, "I just knew I could never do that." But, despite her feelings on the matter she has been wonderfully supportive of my job hunt. She understands doing something for yourself. She is using her time at home to pursue her dream of becoming an author for YA fiction. Definitely something that would be more difficult to pursue if she were working. Over the years I have gotten so many tips about stretching a budget and keeping cool when your kids are driving you crazy, I really don't know what I would have done without her. I know I can call her on my worst day and she will always be there to listen.
The media fueled "Mommy Wars" would like to pit this wonderful community of women against themselves. They try and generate ratings by pitting parents against one another. There are whole online communities designed to imply that if you don't breastfeed and you circumcise your child you are participating in acts that are tantamount to child abuse. Guess What!? The primary thing all these wonderful women have in common is that they are all just trying to do what they deem is the very best for their child. And what works for one person, does not always work for another. As an anthropologist I love that America has so many different diverse ideas. Now we just need to learn how to be ok with our own choices without firebombing someone else's.
The good news is there is already a movement, specifically for online interactions, to promote the support and healthy exchange of ideas between mothers. The Mom Pledge is an online community of Moms that are coming together to end cyber bullying and promote support among ALL moms. After all, we all just want to raise healthy, educated children who hopefully become happy and find some degree of success. I took the Mom Pledge. I think it is wonderful.
To end with, I leave you with this link;
It is from the Christian Science monitor and it is a discussion involving the uproar that surrounded the recent Time Magazine cover with the breastfeeding mother and the negative impacts from the perpetuation of the "mommy wars." Look forward to next week when we begin exploring how the media images of motherhood have driven our ideas of mothering in America.