Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My thoughts on Erica Jong's Wall Street Journal article, "Mother Madness."

I feel compelled to share my thoughts on Erica Jong's debatable article featuring quotes such as, "Attachment Parenting comes with an exquisite progressive pedigree."  She claims, "Our obsession with parenting is an avoidance strategy. It allows us to substitute our own small world for the world as a whole. But the entire planet is a child's home, and other adults are also mothers and fathers. We cannot separate our children from the ills that affect everyone, however hard we try. Aspiring to be perfect parents seems like a pathetic attempt to control what we can while ignoring problems that seem beyond our reach." 

I disagree. Aspiring to be a perfect parent doesn't mean we're going to be perfect nor would I call our attempt pathetic.  I believe we are just doing our best to protect our children and raise them with an awareness and consciousness that didn't exist in previous generations.  Why do so many people want to find fault with nurturing and bonding and loving our children?  When my first son was born, I didn't have an attachment parent role model.  I didn't even know the term existed.  I didn't know if I was going to breastfeed or co-sleep and I didn't know I was going to wear my baby!  It was all instinctual and I trusted myself and my love for my newborn son.  People questioned me, doubted me, and judged me and I kept standing for what felt right and for the choices I was making.  This debate about it binding us and imprisoning us is unfair.  We all have a choice.  Some women choose to stay home and do it all themselves, some women choose to go to work and some women have to go to work and wish they could be home. However you look at it, we are all doing our best. We have to accept our realities and work toward changing them if the sacrifices are too great. In parenting, just like in life, we have the power to change. If something isn't working, we can choose to turn it all around. It's up to us. 

Jong gives many reasons she feels that attachment parenting is a prison. Her true argument is that it's a prison for the working mother. She states "attachment parenting, especially when combined with environmental correctness, has encouraged female victimization. Women feel not only that they must be ever-present for their children but also that they must breast-feed, make their own baby food and eschew disposable diapers. It's a prison for mothers, and it represents as much of a backlash against women's freedom as the right-to-life movement."

"Is it even possible to satisfy the needs of both parents and children? In agrarian societies, perhaps wearing your baby was the norm, but today's corporate culture scarcely makes room for breast-feeding on the job, let alone baby wearing. So it seems we have devised a new torture for mothers—a set of expectations that makes them feel inadequate no matter how passionately they attend to their children."

This is where I have the problem with her argument.  This female victimization and inadequacy that she claims working mothers have is not our fault.  Just because I, along with many other women, choose to be attachment parents, shouldn't put pressure on women who aren't or make them feel like imperfect mothers.  Whether we choose to stay home, are given the luxury to stay home or work from home, we work just as hard as the  mother that goes to work. Some women envy that mom who gets to grab her Starbucks in the morning and head to her office.
 I personally love and am grateful for managing my business from home and being a stay at home mom with my boys.  They run this business with me.  It certainly has its challenges but I do my best and wouldn't change it.  I love that we all do this together.

None of us are perfect.  I believe we all feel inadequate at some point or another if not most of the time.  There are no rules. There are benefits to staying at home, working and or/ doing both and there are huge sacrifices made on both sides as well. 

Thanks to feminism we have CHOICES.  We have options. Life is about making choices and sacrifices and as a parent; your choices will always affect your kids.   Again we can only do our best and only we know what that is.

I love my sons with all of my heart.  They are my life.  They make me want to be better every single day.  They inspire me to achieve, to dream, to succeed.  I want to provide a safe, secure and loving home for them. I want them to know that they can tell me anything, that they are a part of me and that I will never abandon them.   I want them to never feel afraid.  I’m not perfect and I don’t try to be.  I suppose that is really the heart of what I Erica Jong is saying.  She is asking women to stop being imprisoned by the notion of perfection. I just want to love my boys and give them everything I can while simultaneously finding the balance in my marriage, my business and my own identity as a woman.  That is not prison to me. Is it easy? No.  Would I change any of it? No.  This is my life.  This is my family. These are my choices.  I am grounded in them, I am proud of them, and I will continue loving and learning every day.  I will make mistakes and I will be judged along the way.  I am fine with that. My love and wanting the best for my kids, will hopefully contribute to their lives in positive ways and the nurturing and bonding will be felt through their lifetimes.

There are no rules.  Women shouldn't feel imperfect or less than the mother who is doing whatever it is that they are not doing. We are all different and yet we're all the same.  We are mothers.  No one can take that away from us and no one, other than a mother, can truly understand the connection you have with your child and why you do the things you do.  So I say, do your best, embrace this amazing role you’ve been given and enjoy every minute.  It goes by too fast and I certainly can say that I will never regret my choice to be an attachment parent. It is the greatest gift I can give my boys and myself.  

Sandy Frankfort

LoveWrap - Wrap Your Baby With Love

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