Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Randoms - Mommy War Edition

By now you have no doubt seen the newest cover of Time:

The cover story deals with the topic of Attachment Parenting and how it can drive women to extremes. I haven't read the Time article yet b/c I am too cheap to buy either the online or print edition, but this article comes after some hot debate in the feminist blog world.

I read several feminist blogs. Some of them are Mommy centered while some aren't, so it is interesting to see one side argue that parenting styles like AP are decidedly unfeminist while the other side argues AP is nothing, if not feminist.

First, let's outline the 3 basic principles of APing: co-sleeping (which IS NOT bed sharing, more in a second), breastfeeding and baby wearing. The Good Husband and I practiced all three but only after the arrival of The Good Daughter and only as a natural extension of our own parenting choices. I had never heard of APing until TGD was a few months old and another mom commented on my sling at the Farmer's Market and said something about APing. I went home and Googled and shit! Lo and behold, we were APing without ever hearing about Dr. Sears, which is probably a good thing since all his opinions on vaccines make me want to take a hot poker to the eye.

For the first six months or so, TGD slept in a bedside bassinet. We wanted her close at hand, but we didn't want her in the bed with us. And just so everyone knows, sleeping with the baby in your room but with the baby in their own bed is CO-SLEEPING. Sleeping with a baby in your bed is BED SHARING. We bed share now on occasion but TGD is almost 3. I wasn't comfortable with her sleeping in our bed until past the age of one. So I hope that clears up some of the :::gasp! looks of horror::: I see pregnant women get when they spit out they "would never!!!!" co-sleep, thinking they might roll over on their precious and smoosh them. I also nursed for 4 months before, due to latch issues, pumped for another 7 months. This allowed TGD to get all that wonderful stuff that is in breast milk, but it also allowed TGH or anyone else to feed her. Baby wearing was just easy for me b/c I am lazy and wanted my hands free when carrying the kiddo around.

The idea behind APing is that by having a close attachment to your baby in the beginning, by sleeping next to them, not allowing them to cry excessively, to have a lot of physical contact, you lay the groundwork for a confident, independent child later.

Now the argument floating around feminist blogs is that AP is the very much a tool of the patriarchy in order to keep women oppressed and in a state of mommy martyrdom, since it is implied that only really good moms are the ones that stay at home with a kid on the tit 24/7 for the first two years.

I disagree with that and only some of it is due to the fact that I self identify as an AP. First of all, there is nothing that states only moms can AP. Yes, men are lacking the biology to allow them to lactate but thank god for the breast pump, b/c it allows anyone to feed the baby breast milk. And as far as I know, it is the actual milk and not the time on the tit that is of the most benefit. A baby and the person feeding it will bond even if no tits are a-swingin'. Also, as far as I know, a penis doesn't hinder co-sleeping or baby wearing at all. To imply that only a mother can do all these things and AP her baby is actually sexist to all the great and supportive men out there and diminishes the important role they play in the lives of their babies.

Let's not forget too that while infant formula has been around since the time mothers were giving cocaine to babies to help with teething, it wasn't until the post war era of better living through science that formula really took off since there was no way something natural a woman could produce would be any way as good as what a man in a lab could create. Then misguided feminists of the 70s and 80s took up the formula loving battle cry as a way to free women from their natural bonds as they entered the workforce in droves. Its no wonder then that breastfeeding rates were at an all time low in the 80s.

I work full time, as does TGH, so someone else is raising our daughter and soon to be son for us. But having a caretaker that believes in the same basic principles of APing, someone that is attentive, interactive and loving with your child means they will still form all the basic attachments AP spouts.

The idea that only women can provide a nurturing and loving environment for babies is sexist at best and dangerous at worst. It fails to acknowledge the importance supportive people of both genders play in her life and that of her child. By focusing on the idea that APing is mommy centered  it is creating the impression that it is oppressive and mothers are the sole responsibility when a child fails, when the opposite is true. APing can be about taking the easiest and laziest way out with the help of everyone in the life of the baby. It is very much a "takes a whole village" type of approach when it is often painted as isolating and lonely.

1 comment:

Shanea said...

Well, this article did stir the pot in the world about AP. I guess there are aspects of my parenting that align me with the AP spectrum but there are things that are certainly not really AP. My main gripe with the article and please know I did not purchase (I am a cheapo too) was the headline about being good enough- no matter what if you are loving, nurturing and doing the best for you lo then you are MORE than good enough. Plus is it me or does that little boy look 12! i kid, he does look tall and my little 3yr old is in the 95th percentile for height so I know tall!
Good post~ the Mommy Wars continue (unfortunately).