So there was this Wall Street Journal article that went a little viral over the last few days (at least among the mothers I hang with online) all about Mother Madness, celebrity moms, what’s wrong with the modern mom and how we modern moms are making “prisons” for ourselves. To me, it wasn’t anything earth shattering. My first reaction was that it was yet another article trying to diagnose what ails us, and putting people into pretty little, easy to judge boxes while they were at it.
Women feel not only that they must be ever-present for their children but also that they must breast-feed, make their own baby food and eschew disposable diapers. It’s a prison for mothers, and it represents as much of a backlash against women’s freedom as the right-to-life movement.
Okay, I’ll admit I was actually a little offended by it… because I think this author would try to put ME in that little box she seemed to be judging- the mom who baby wears, makes her own baby food, cloth diapers and breastfeeds, the mom who, she seemed to imply, is making motherhood so difficult for other moms who don’t choose to do these things. So yes, it’s possible my initial take on the article was a little tainted by how I felt she was judging ME, accusing ME of creating a prison for myself out of these CHOICES I’ve made on my path through parenthood.
Sure, there are some days this motherhood thing can feel a little prison-like, but please don’t go thinking that would change if I used disposable diapers, formula fed, and kept my kid in a baby swing all day (*note- this is not me judging those choices). What would make my life a little less prison-like from time to time would be:
a. Not being subjected to the torture that is a 5th Fresh Beat Band episode in one day
b. Not having to eat bland food like a cold cheese quesadillas AGAIN because it’s all the toddler will eat and I don’t get a chance to scarf mine down until he’s down for his nap
c. Not having to wipe shits the size of a grown man’s from my son’s ass after he has another poop incident in his Buzz Lightyear undies
d. Not having to do ANOTHER load of dirty dishes only to make ANOTHER dinner, thus producing ANOTHER load of dirty dishes
I mean, those are *my* prison-like conditions around here.
For a while I contemplated getting deep on here about it, breaking down the article, asking you all questions, but that’s been done, and I’m tired, and really, after letting it simmer for a few days, I can see past the offensiveness that is putting down a whole “type” of parent and get to the heart of what I *think* (hope?) she was trying to say. Well, she did say it… in the very last paragraph.
We need to be released from guilt about our children, not further bound by it. We need someone to say: Do the best you can. There are no rules.
So let’s just go from there because I bet we can all agree that that statement is a pretty great one in and of itself.
I was going to name this list the 10 Commandments of Motherhood, but that would imply that I’m God-like when it comes to this, and I’m certainly not anywhere close to perfect. And I know we all agreed there should be “no rules” so how about we call it…
10 Things That All Sort Of Contradict Each Other But Might Make Mothering Less Stressful If You Do Them
but I’m not making any promises and it’s possible I’m pulling this out of my ass because I’m very, very new at this, too and really suck at some of these
1. Educate yourself– read books, read *reputable* websites, get various opinions, talk to your doctors
2. Don’t always trust your doctor– blindly, that is- sort of goes back to the whole educating yourself thing- YOU are you child’s best advocate
3. Trust your gut– even though sometimes it will tell you the exact opposite of every other member of your family- these are YOUR choices to make
4. Own your choices– no matter what it is you decide to do, if you’ve educated yourself and analyzed your situation enough to trust your gut to make a decision, what more can you do? Own it. It’s the BEST YOU CAN DO.
5. Don’t let other’s choices make you feel any less or more of a mother– THIS. IS. HARD. To be honest, I struggle with this one every day- on both sides. Just remember you are doing the BEST YOU CAN DO and so are they… hopefully… but that’s really none of your business… unless they leave the kid in the car with a 10 lb bag of crack and a rabid dog… then intervene because that is some shitty parenting and I encourage you to judge, judge, judge.
6. Cut yourself some slack– I’m serious. This is another one I struggle with a lot. Caring for another, smaller human doesn’t make us superhuman. We are allowed to feel tired, sick, annoyed, stressed. We are allowed to let all the balls drop, to just sit on the couch while the house is falling apart around us, children jumping off of couches with sharp objects in their hands, dirty dishes piled to the sky in the kitchen, small animal sized dust balls blowing across the floor, and not GIVE A DAMN. I challenge any one of you with a kid over the age of 18 months to tell me this has not been a scene from your life at some point or another. It happens to ALL OF US at some point. Yes, even that perky, put together, pearl-wearing mom who’s always perfectly pressed for the play date, it happens to her, too.
7. Allow yourself to change– So you did your research and you owned your choices and now you’re not so sure about them. You know what? No big deal. So staying at home didn’t work out and you want to go back to work. Fine! So you thought you’d never, ever, ever let your kids watch TV, but now it’s the only way to get 15 minutes of peace. That’s okay! Motherhood is all about being flexible and eating all those words that started with “I will never…”
8. Stick to your guns– Sometimes you *think* you need to cave on something you felt so passionately about, but doing so would compromise your values and the example you want to set for your children. Another confusing one, I know, because while motherhood is all about being flexible, it’s also about knowing which battles are worth the big fight and then fighting them.
9. Don’t box yourself in– You don’t have to be any “type” of parent. You don’t have to abide by every rule in any book. You should always make the choices that work for you and your family, even if, in this world that loves to put groups of people in uniform boxes, those choices seem to contradict each other. I’ve always considered myself a bit of a hybrid parent, and for a long while it kind of bothered me. Was I an Attachment Parent? Was I a Modern Parent? Was I a Traditional Parent? Why did I have to be any one of them? I was just… me… just doing what felt right, and while I can associate with a lot of different “types” of parents, I don’t feel the need to wholly belong to just one.
10. Love your children– If every choice you make is with the love you have for your children in mind, how can you go wrong? Just love them in the best way you know how, and try to get better at it every day. Know that there will be some days that are harder than others and be OKAY with that.
None of those had anything to do with the manner in which you transport your baby around or what you use to collect their poop. Make the educated choices that feel right to you, own them, allow yourself to change your mind and just roll with it- I think that’s what it all boils down to.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to my prison-like existence and go set up the cloth diaper drawer in the new baby’s room. Don’t mind that noise, it’s just the chains around my ankles, prepping me for another round of breastfeeding and baby food making.
Kendall is 2.5 and I’m 34 weeks pregnant (and just wait until I tell you all about this pain in my crotch… stay tuned)