I listened to a program today on my local NPR station where people called in to talk about the TIME magazine cover and their thoughts about attachment parenting. I was amazed at the self-satisfied women who called in and felt completely comfortable doing exactly what they are accusing the critics of attachment parenting of doing.
Hating on mothers who are choosing to do things differently.
I say hating not because of the content of what they were saying or because I thought they were coming on a little strong. Their words were so harsh and mean that I sat on hold trying to be a caller just so I could ask how they reconciled being so nasty to other mothers. One woman called in and said (quoteish- I am paraphrasing obviously) "There are more and more women bringing their babies into the world by c-section rather then natural deliveries. For those women who start their mothering that way, is it any wonder they have difficulty bonding with their children?"
I thought about all the amazing mothers I know (including my own) who had babies by c-section for sundry reasons, and I wonder how this woman would have felt about the issue if her body or baby had not cooperated perfectly. What if her breasts did not produce enough milk to sustain her child? What if her baby had been breech and could not safely be delivered naturally? What if a back injury prevented her from wearing her baby or the economy prevented her from staying home with her children? She was blessed to be able to parent the way she wanted- not everyone has that luxury.
How is it that when it comes to issues of parenting all fighting is below the belt? As my friend Kate pointed out, Attachment Parenting has become an issue so huge that whether you consider yourself an "attachment parent" or not now says something about who you are as a person. Your character. Your priorities. It's not just a choice between a stroller or a Moby- it is whether you love your child enough to carry them.
I think we have the real issue wrong. Maybe one camp is just more vocal than another, but I feel like there is a lot of hesitancy right now to disagree with the mother on the cover of TIME. How do you disagree with breastfeeding, right? When you don't feel that nursing a 4 year old boy on the cover of a magazine is the right thing to do. Not the nursing, the magazine. Let's talk about societal norms and definitions of nudity and what it means to exploit children. Let's talk about why TIME used a 26 year old model rather then a 50 year old Amish mother nursing her 7th babe.
When I really want to rile Grant up, I tell him that technically we are attachment parents. I was lucky enough to have quick labors with no pain medications and healthy, full term babies. My breasts produced enough milk for them to be nourished and for us to bond during months of breastfeeding. I have worn both of my babes in slings and carriers. We cloth diaper and enjoy the economic and cute baby bottom benefits. Grant has a great job and my job as an RN allows a flexible schedule for me to be home with them full time. We have been so fortunate to be able to have a life that gave us the choice to parent how we wanted.
My fabulous Bradley instructor has two babes which she has been fortunate enough to parent how she wanted as well. She and I have done things the same, differently and talked a great deal along the way. She said to me after my last blog post that mothers should "breastfeed with love and formula feed with love".
So listen up haters. Stop spending so much time fighting for a concept that is the individual choice of each and every parent. Be grateful for the parenting you were able to do and give more of your attention to helping other parents get the help and resources they need to be able to parent how they want. Parenting is hard enough without having to listen to your terrible opinions on the radio when all I want to listen to is reruns of This American Life.