Wednesday, May 16, 2012

time and the mommy wars

oy vey.  you've all heard about this, right?  the time magazine cover that's taken the world by storm.  i'm not a mother yet, but i am deeply offended by the article.  not by the 3-year-old standing on a chair at his mother's breast.  i'm offended by the implication that women who don't adhere to the attachment parenting style of parenting aren't "mom enough."  i'm saddened that this perpetuates and creates more competition among women to be better moms. 

women and mothers have enough pressure on them internally to be good moms.  and while i think that mommy blogs can be wonderful things, they can also be harmful.  it's not hard to read what other women are doing and compare yourself to them.  women blog about their babies' milestones and i'm sure it's difficult to read that if your child is the same age and hasn't hit that milestone yet.  or seeing all the creative things that a mom is doing with her kids, while you feel like you're barely able to get through a day unscathed. 

even as a newly-pregnant woman, i find myself comparing myself to other women.  i have a friend who completely stopped drinking coffee and any kind of caffeinated drinks.  for her entire pregnancy.  she always said she knew that one or two cups every now and then is ok, but she "didn't want to take a chance."  i, on the other hand, like my coffee.  when matt and i started ttc, i switched to decaf, but i still drank it.  since we got our bfp, i've switched to water during the week, but on the weekends, i fully intend to enjoy my cup of decaf coffee..  i'm also going to continue to enjoy iced tea if i feel the urge.  but there is some little voice inside my head that says "you should do what she did and stop altogether." 

the time magazine article talks about attachment parenting as the style of parenting to strive for.  and at it's core, it does sound pretty ideal.  mrs. jacks on hellobee wrote a great post about attachment parenting.  to me, it sounds like a pretty natural, straight-forward way to parent.  provide support, sensitivity, compassion, and love.  it's kind of like, uh, duh.  i think the problem with attachment parenting is that people take it too far, like mrs. jacks says.  it becomes less about nurturing and more about sheltering. 

matt and i talk a lot about the kind of parents we hope to be.  we want to be loving but firm.  supportive but strict.  we will not be afraid to say no or to discipline our children.  and we will draw the line when needed to protect our marriage (and our sanities!), like not letting our children share our bed.  like setting her in a bouncy seat so that we have our hands free.

then i read this.  it was like an epiphany.  we should be fighting a mommy war.  but we should be fighting it for each other, not with each other.  the feminist movement did amazing work for women to get us equal rights and equality in the workplace.  but somewhere along the line, it went a little rogue.  it worked so hard to ensure women equal places in the workforce that it lost sight of the fact that, like or not, women have different needs than men, biologically and hormonally speaking.  and those needs have gotten ignored.

in the us, you are lucky if you get any paid maternity leave.  at my company you "get" 6 weeks.  and by "get" i mean that you can take 6 weeks of short-term disability, paid at 65% of your salary.  if you want to take anything other than, you have to use your vacation, sick, or personal time.  i work at a large enough company that we participate in fmla, so that my job is protected for 12 weeks.  12 weeks.  3 months.  just long enough to get a handle on breastfeeding and get a routine down.  if i want to take longer than that, i risk losing my job.  my plan is to exhaust all but 40 hours of my sick and vacation time (they at least let you keep 40 hours so that you have time if you need to take a sick day), supplement with the 6 weeks of disability, and then any other time i'll take unpaid, as long as matt and i can financially pull that off.  i'd love to take my full 12 weeks but i'm just not sure that that is in the cards for us. 

hellobee is doing a series right now on maternity leave around the world, and reading the series just infuriates me.  most of the world is lightyears ahead of the us in support for pregnancy and new parents.  i mean, mexico has better maternity support than the us.  mexico!  some countries not only offer paid maternity leave, but paid (or at least subsidized) daycare.  it's amazing.  why has the us - one of the richest countries in the world - not caught on? the gop and the conservative right are always going on and on about family values.  where is the fight for the family value of mom being able to be home and raise her infant?

what are your thoughts on attachment parenting?  and would you be willing to pay higher taxes for things like government-paid maternity leave and subsidized daycare?  


Anonymous said...

I am an advocate for attachment parenting in our household, but I am also an advocate that each family/mother should choose what feels right for their own children!

I would def pay higher taxes for government-paid maternity leave. It is ludicrous that such a world power like the US doesn't have mandatory maternity leave!!!

Anonymous said...

I get ZERO paid maternity leave, ugh. I should have about 3 weeks of sick time and vacation saved up by that time though. Luckily, we were saving for a new bathroom and most of that fund will now be for my maternity leave because I do plan on taking all of my FMLA leave. Texas actually gets one of the worst scores for "moms & work"---I think we got a D this year.

And unfortunately sometimes I feel like the mommy wars start as soon as you start telling people you're pregnant. I feel fortunate that I haven't experienced that yet, but I've heard some unbelievable stories from friends.

Jessica said...

I had to use vacation/sick leave if I wanted to get paid at all for maternity leave. I'm lucky that I had enough saved up or I would have been off for 9 weeks with no pay! It's crazy that the US hasn't adopted better policies for new families.

Also, you said it PERFECTLY when you said "we should be fighting it for each other, not with each other" - regardless of what side we're on - we're all fighting the same fight, for our kids! We all want healthy kids right? Why argue about HOW they get that way?!