By: Crissie Miller Kirby
I’ve been toying with writing about this for a while, but really felt compelled to write this following the publication of Time magazine’s latest issue, upon which the cover shows a woman breastfeeding her 3-year-old son. The title of the article, “Are You Mom Enough?” to say the least, sets me on fire. The article goes on to discuss the growing popularity of the theory of attachment parenting which centers around one physician’s advice to never let your child cry, to breastfeed for years, as long as you want to, and to keep your infant close to you to create stronger bonds. While we all want to create safe, loving, and nurturing environments for our children, some of Dr. Sears’ ideas just are not practical in everyday life for some families. Please note I said some families. For some families it may work wonderfully, however, it may not work well in others, which leads me to my discussion of the “Mommy Wars.”
Why is it that society feels the need to judge every single move that we mothers make? Why is it that we mothers feel the need to judge every single move that other mothers make? We don’t live each others’ lives, so why is it that we feel like we know what is truly best for a certain child? I’ve always been troubled by this. When I was pregnant with my oldest son, I remember having a conversation with a staunch breastfeeding supporter and her quick and judgmental “you aren’t even going to try?” response to my statement that I had no desire to breastfeed. Before she ever heard the reasons why, she judged my decision. And while it was truly no business of hers, I felt compelled to divulge the fact that only 5 years prior I had undergone breast reduction surgery and had been told I most likely would not be able to breastfeed. In my mind, why should I get worked up over it? It was not like I would be abandoning my child at birth and leaving him to fend for himself; I was still going to provide food and nutrition for him. But that one moment in time bothered me for a long time, and, truthfully, still bothers me to this day.
I’ve had a number of friends breastfeed their children. I’ve sat with them while they have breastfed and been okay with it. Because it is that family’s choice; not mine. I think of the friends that I have who have struggled with infertility that finally were able to call a child theirs through adoption; do they deserve the nasty looks or snide comments about bottle feeding their infants? Definitely not! They are doing something much more powerful by loving and caring for a child who, for whatever reasons, could not be cared for by the biological mother and/or father.
Yes, I know what the research shows. I know what the AAP and WHO say about breastfeeding. I even know that there are ways to induce yourself to lactate even if you did not give birth. I had conversations with my pediatrician BEFORE my son was born to assure me that he would be okay surviving on formula. And he was. And so was his brother after him. Never did we struggle with “failure to thrive” or latching issues. We were able to bottle feed with little to no stress. Both of my children have been relatively healthy and happy children and neither struggle with obesity.
So my question is, “Are you Mom Enough To Not Judge Another Mom?” Why must we form bonds with other mothers simply because we breastfeed, or don’t, or stay at home, or work outside of the home, or attachment parent, or don’t? Why can’t we form the bond simply because we all share one thing in common?
The fact that we are mothers.