From Leslie Jones. She writes about urban motherhood every two weeks in her column TWB Poo (There Will Be Poo). You can email her at leslie[AT]borderstan.com
Two weeks ago was my first Mother’s Day as a mom. We went to visit my parents for the weekend and I sat down to do some writing Saturday night. Mother’s Day and my role as new mom were on my mind, and I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t help thinking about the recent Time magazine cover and the related article.
What does it mean to be “mom enough”? The article “The Man Who Remade Motherhood” isn’t nearly as sensational as the cover might lead one to believe. It’s almost a little disappointing; it’s so rational.
But it did get me started thinking about what it means to be a parent.
The article poses questions about parenting styles, but the title grabs your attention. “Are you mom enough?” What about dad enough, or parent enough? Nope, mom enough — because that is what our culture is obsessed with: breastfeeding and cloth diapers, and parenting styles, and even how moms give birth. The title and the cover photo were calculated to get people to buy the magazine, by any means necessary, which I find irritating. But I suppose that if it starts a conversation too, that’s a good thing.
Parenting is not easy and most parents do the best they can. We don’t need sensational media pitting us against each other. It’s one thing to disseminate information about the health benefits of breastfeeding. I love awareness, but this doesn’t feel like that, it isn’t that; it’s divisive and unnecessary.
Breastfeeding is a hot button topic. It’s also a very personal choice for all moms. A blogger I follow, “The Laughing Stork”, said that when she was asked if she was “pro-breastfeeding or pro-formula”, she replied that she was “pro-feeding my child”. I really like that response. Not that it matters to anyone, but I breastfeed my daughter and I intend to until she is a year old, maybe more, depending on how things go. But it’s been easy for me and things have worked out. And — gasp — we occasionally supplement with formula. It’s not always so easy. You just don’t know what is going on in someone’s life, so it’s not really any of your business. I love breastfeeding, but it isn’t all butterflies and unicorns for everyone all the time.
My best friend in the world would love to breastfeed, but her premature baby was having trouble, and after months of struggling, she had to switch to formula. Is she “mom enough”? You don’t even know the meaning of the word “mom”; she is a super-hero mom-azon who makes me proud to call her my friend. She has been through things that would be considered torture outside a hospital. Trust me, she’s mom enough.
I had the pleasure of knowing a wonderful woman, Anne, back when we were young girls, at summer camp. She recently shared a video that was made about her family for the Amara adoption agency in Washington State. She and her wife, Amanda, are the incredible mothers of seven, yes you heard me right, seven adopted children. And if you don’t cry when you watch this video, well . . . you totally should. They are moms in the extreme, doing their best to create a loving home for their children. And again, their superlative parenting isn’t dependent on breastfeeding.
So breasts are not really what the Time article is about, but they are at the heart of the issue. And don’t get me wrong… I love breasts and their intended purpose. But the people who decided what the Time cover would be knew that it would rile people up. Let it… but not in the way they intended. Let it encourage us to stick together, in this great crazy endeavor called parenting, and not divide us.
Sit back and think about what it means to really be a mom, or a dad – a good one, anyway. For me, it has so much more to do with love and sacrifice, intelligence and morals, than anything so straightforward as a breast. Happy belated mothers day and forthcoming fathers day.