Time Magazine really hit it out of the watercooler ballpark this
week. The publication instantly evoked a national conversation
about attachment parenting and the social repercussions of slapping
a picture of a 4-year-old breastfeeding on the cover of a
well-known magazine. Every time I flipped to a news station, the
issue was being addressed. I couldn't get away from the topic no
matter how hard I tried.
As I overheard mothers at the park, grocery store, and doctor's
office discuss the story, I finally started understanding my
distaste for the debate. The feverish pitch in which defenders and
opponents spoke about the woman was undeniable. Yet at the end of
the day, I was more annoyed with Time for being unnecessarily
provocative. The picture was obviously part of a photo shoot. There
was no visible nursing bra. Mom was posing.
Once again, it appeared that a national publication was merely
fanning the flames of "The Mommy Wars." And I'm sick of it.
Women are constantly being compared, broken down, and
second-guessed by the media. Those same practices then spill over
into the neighborhoods, carpools, and ultimately the homes of
mothers everywhere. While the latest Time cover may be an extreme
example, I've found that the constant scrutiny and fear of being
judged has rendered many women impotent. While I don't agree with
most mothers on most things, I've always felt that it was important
to follow your gut. Whatever works has always been my
Every time I see a kid acting horribly, my natural tendency is
to look to the mom for some kind of response. I don't care which
technique she chooses, but I expect something - yelling,
whispering in the ear, dragging the kid out by an arm. At the bare
minimum, I wait for an acknowledgement that the child is in fact
hers, and that she is aware that he just threw another kid's school
bag into the street.
Yet too often, I watch the mom's eyes glaze over while she
inwardly debates the ramifications of her response:
If I yell, then I am creating a "hostile environment" for my
If I try to figure out what happened and the cause of my
child's actions, I might be perceived as too lenient and
If I force my child to return the bag and apologize, then I
am damaging his long-term ego and belief that his mother is always
on his side.
If I blink, then all the other mothers will know I saw what
happened and did nothing.
I am so scared.
And now I can't move.
The endless criticism, the "expert" opinions, and the daunting
barrage of new parenting theories are mucking up our moms.
Instincts are being ignored. Intelligent women are turning to the
internet and Dr. Phil for direction instead of employing their own
natural gifts and intuition.
It is a terrible waste.
So I'm throwing down the gauntlet. I make mistakes all the time.
Other moms roll their eyes at me. My parenting is called into
question by just everyone who knows me. It's par for the course.
And because I don't care (mostly) what others think, I work hard to
do what I believe will help form good kids.
We all judge. It's perfectly normal. But as my good friend
pointed out, final judgment is what really counts: your
child will either be a functioning member of society or a resident
in cell block D at Joliet Penitentiary.
So listen moms.
Do what you think is best. Ignore the stares. Go with your
And let's all end the paralysis of The Mommy Wars.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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