Thursday, June 7, 2012

you are enough.

truth: i think judging people is wrong,
yet i'm embarrassingly judgmental.

& i don't know why . . .
but i suspect it mostly comes from my own insecurities.

which, while i wholly own them, are cultivated & nurtured
by the media & its merciless promotion of the
myth of the 21st-century superwoman.

as american women, we're up against some pretty harsh cultural beliefs.
like, if you don't have it all & have it all together,
if you're not doing it all & doing it all 'correctly,'
if you're not being everything to everybody while wearing a smile,

then you're f*cking up

& are essentially inadequate
as a woman, a wife, a mother & a professional, because —
& here's the biggest whopper of them all —
there are women who are having & doing & being all that, & a bag of chips.

[but only organic chips made from locally grown potatoes,
picked by legal but disadvantaged immigrants for fair pay,
free of trans fats & endorsed by michelle obama.]

pssst . . . those all-that-+-chips women?
they don't exist.

which is my main issue with the recent controversial
"are you mom enough?" time magazine cover.

it's all about fostering feelings of inadequacy
& competition among women, bullseye-targeting the very area
where we tend to feel the greatest vulnerability: motherhood.

confession #2: when i saw this cover,
i judged.

not the breastfeeding — breastfeeding is great,
i'm the first to support moms being able to breastfeed
whenever & wherever they need to,
& most images of breastfeeding i find sweet & touching.

but . . . declaration tre:
based in large part on my personal experience, i've got some
deep-seated issues with the way breastfeeding is, excuse the expression,
force-fed to women within our society.

breastfeeding for the first year is positioned as
the. best. thing. for. every. child. period.
so women who can't or don't breastfeed their baby,
or who can't or don't do it for a full year,
are implicitly not doing the best thing for their child,
& are therefore less-than as mothers.

that is, less than mothers who do breastfeed for the full first year.
again, a lie that feeds the perception of inadequacy & competition among women.

but back to my cover-judging . . .

not the concept of breastfeeding of a 3yo
nor the concept of attachment parenting.
while i personally don't think i could breastfeed a child
beyond about 18mos with emotional comfort,
or practice attachment parenting
[my husband & i agree, one of the best household rules
we ever established was our 'everybody sleeps in their own bed' decree],
if it works for your family — meaning parents & children alike —
then go for it. it's just not something that i feel would work for me.
& as we all know, if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

so, here's what i did judge:

:: the image time chose to use:
model-esque 26yo mom dressed in a cami & skinny jeans,
posed in a defiant stance, seemingly oblivious to her preschooler
son standing awkwardly up on a chair, with a facial expression
of complete discomfort as he suckles while twisting toward the camera.

at the top of this post, you can see an alternate shot
from the same photo shoot, of mama & boy in a cradling embrace
as they share a quiet nursing moment.
this, time magazine, is what breastfeeding
& attachment parenting are really about:
nurturing, nourishing, bonding & love.

but that sh*t don't sell magazines.

:: the mom's exposure not of her breast, but of her child.

she is an adult consenting to quasi-expose her breast
& her beliefs on the cover of a national magazine
[& subsequently, international media of all sorts].

he is a little boy, unable to consent to having a photo of himself
suckling at his mother's breast on the cover of a national magazine
& available internationally forever [once it's on the internet . . .].

add to that imbalance the fact that this particular mom
has a blog called
where she refers to herself as a narcissist [dingdingding!],
has a photo of both of her sons [ages 3yo & 5yo] breastfeeding
simultaneously [the elder son, incidentally,
was adopted from ethiopia late 2010 . . . ?],
& a knee-slapper post — with photos — of the brothers
discovering — & yes, taste-testing — her edible undies,
& it all adds up to, for me, a mom who put her own self-interest
above & beyond her child's best interests, &
in a way that may prove to be damaging to them.

to be fair, this particular mom also seems like a
genuinely good-hearted person trying to do good in the world —
she advocates strongly for breastfeeding, adoption &
multi-racial families; she volunteers; she even launched
her own nonprofit [the fayye foundation] to help
ethiopia's orphan crisis by supporting health clinics
offering antiretroviral medication & prenatal care, &
by providing orphanages with food, supplies & healthcare access.

i'm not trying to accuse her of being an evil person
or even a bad mom. i just feel she made an extremely poor —
& unfortunately, lasting — parenting choice
with the whole breastfeeding-her preschooler-on-the-cover-of-time thing.

:: the utterly offensive women vs. women headline.

the photo got all the attention,
but the headline, for me, is much more egregious.

"are you mom enough?"
again, wtf?

honestly, i feel this sensationalistic cover is just another grenade
lobbed our way in america's apparent "war on women."
the deeply appalling thing here is how it sets women up
to compare, compete & hate on each other — as mothers.

it is, in a word, shameful.

especially assuming the time team members who put it together,
if not women themselves, then at minimum all had/have mothers of their own.

lisa belkin @ said it perfectly
in her piece "no. i am not mom enough."
so i'll leave the final word of this lengthy post to her,
with a resounding AMEN. [& i want to be her when i grow up] from me:

i am not mom enough to take the bait. ...
to feel inferior, or superior, or defensive, or guilty —
or anything at all, if it means i am
comparing myself to other mothers.

motherhood is — should be — a village,
where we explore each others' choices, learn from them,
respect them, & then go off & make our own.

i refuse to see either a heroine or an extremist
in time's cover photo. i won't condemn her or praise her.
i will not stoop to the level of pretending that
we are so unidimensional that we can be divided by a lifestyle choice.

i am not mom enough.

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