Monday, March 20, 2006

Begin Rant:

Most of you are familiar with Mothering magazine, right? Well, I've decided I'm beginning to hate the mainstream EARTHY CRUNCHY attitude almost as much as I hate that, as a country, I believe we are being led down a path of destruction by a failed-oilman-lying-sack-of-cowboy.

As humans, I think, it is natural to regret the choices we make. To lament what we think could have been if we'd made other decisions. But women, perhaps, in addition to second-guessing themselves, spend far too much time looking over the fence at the neighbor and beating them to a bloody pulp, too.

We've got experts ad nauseum telling us what's best for society. Women should work; women should raise the kids and be home 24-7. No matter WHAT we do there's someone waiting in the pages of a magazine to tell us our choice was dead wrong.

I wrongly equated the wholefoods/save the environment set with lofty ideas that were right-minded and empathetic of all things, not just spotted owls and Karner butterflies. I thought of them as they portrayed themselves: Do no harm. Leave no trace of yourself as you walk in that deep wood. So I have to say I was kind of shocked to read the following passage in MOTHERING about rooming-in with your newborn:

"I watched a young mother pushing a plastic hospital bassinet in which a tiny pink bundle slept. At her side was an older woman, probably her own mother. They stopped at the door to the nursery and pushed it open with the far end of the bassinet. The young mother motioned with one hand to the nurses inside, then she and her mother turned and walked back down the hall.

She never said goodbye to her child, never kissed her or patted her head. She didn't tuck the blanket in before she left or stop to catch one more glimpse of those tiny fingers. She was already disconnected from the life she'd had within her only a day before. I wondered how different that family might be if, instead of offering drop-in childcare, the hospital had offered instead a supportive environment for attachment. An opportunity was lost, as that family detached, to protect and nurture the bond of mother and child that nature requires of us while we are pregnant, and hospitals so easily regulate out of us once our babies are born."

I must say that I became irrationally angry after reading that -- the kind of anger I get when I watch the Today show in the morning and wind up flashing both fingers and the television screen as I shriek "I HATE YOU KATIE COURIC!" This anger, directed at the writer, was in part because I too was one of those hand-my-kid-off-to-the-nursery-staff kind of person. As a new mother I was afraid, unsure of myself and also extremely tired after 24 hours of painful labor and an eventual c-section, not to mention that I was so swollen from fluids they pumped into my system that even my corneas were bloated and I had trouble seeing. I was also suffering from the Baby Blues and worried that I was slipping into a deeper depression.

If someone were to pass this judgement on me they would have been wrong. In all aspects of our lives -- from child rearing to working to keeping up the house and to taking care of others -- we feel we are being judged and fear we will be found lacking.

We women can't even stop clubbing each other over the head with the age old work/stay home argument. For the record: I work because without my job we wouldn't have health insurance, which I would feel (with my history and the state of healthcare) might put my family in jeopardy.

What all this means to me is that having a happy mother is SO more important, in my opinion, than having a depressed one, regardless of whether they work or stay at home. And if one more person tells me that they didn't have kids so that someone else could raise them, well ... I just might throw them head first into the talking head of the almighty Katie Couric.

The thing I've learned from my experience is that I know very little about anyone else. I do not know their circumstances. I only know my own. And I know I am as bonded to my kidlet as I believe any other mother who roomed-in, stayed-at-home, cloth-diapered and co-slept would be. And I also learned that moms HAVE to do what's best for them. After all we are not interchangeable and neither are our kids. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another.

I breastfed for 19 months and would have let her nurse until she got married. She wanted no more of it and weened herself. Two of my dearest friends weren't able to nurse. Their kids didn't gain weight and they were terror struck. LeLeche would have drummed me out of the corp for telling them having a non-worried/non-guilt consumed mother was more important than having mother's milk. I know a woman who comitted suicide because of postpartum depression. I just can't think of anything worse.

If we can't be kind to each other, then how are we effecting the planet in any meaningful way? What good will our electric cars and natural fibers be to us as we sit on that high perch in judgement. It's probably difficult to be empathetic when we think the world would turn smoothly and serenely if everyone just did things OUR way, I suppose. But I think, as a society hoping to save this planet, that's what we are going to have to do: practice a little empathy along with a lot more moderation.

END RANT ... Thank you.


Tracy said...

your rant was right on.
though my baby is soon to be 17, I remember feeling similar to the way you did, when I read info the la leche league, put out about the gawd forbid pacifier, and the dreaded nipple confusion that would ensue. Luckily babies can't read, and my son happily nursed, and used his "fwah"(his word for it) and never seemed confused, or nursed less.
As a nurse, I saw the exhausted Mom's, already feeling defeated, because they felt overwhelmed, and all the parenting magazines, tsked tsked that they shouldn't return the baby to the nursery, but room in.
My comment to them was soon enough you will be home, and the rooming in will begin, so give your self a little break for a job well done.

toyfoto said...

It makes me feel somewhat vindicated by recent findings that pacifyers are actually beneficial in preventing SIDS. I'm not sure if it's true enough that it won't be recinded in the next study ... but since my baby couldn't live without a binky from day three in the hospital, I'm doing a little happy dance of my own. For her there was no confusion only comfort. When she was hungry she could launch that binks across the room and lasso me like a cow. ... (Perhaps that' a little too much information.)

Jus said...

Amen sister! I cancelled my mothering subscription because as I told my husband
"I dont want the children to think that we are a part of an angry revolution fighting the power but rather that we are a family doing things as they come naturally to us".
I refuse to call myself an "AP mama" because I dont see why this odd label you include to be part of a club is any better than saying "they are a daycare family" or "they bottle feed".
I wear my babies, sleep with them and nurse them for a couple of years , we dont circ, we do vaccinate - this is a laudry list of personal choices not a manifesto. I think to make it one sells mothering (the vocation not the rag) short.

Justyn of flickr