On being mom enough

Howdy, friends.

I think the entire mommy-blogging world is STILL talking about the Time magazine cover on attachment parenting, with the headline, “Are you mom enough?”

Courtesy of Time magazine.

I’ve read some pretty good commentary on it lately, including this note about how we’re pitting moms against each other for all the wrong reasons:

But, don’t fret, you will still wear the scarlet ‘M’ on your sweater. Because god forbid you need to take time off with a sick child, or need to leave right on time to pick your baby up from day care – that establishment to which you pay more than your mortgage. You can be a professional and you can be a mother, but if you show any hint of the former you’re probably going to be viewed as the company’s weakness.

Seriously. We paid the same in daycare as we did in mortgage last year. That’s horrifying. And even though I work for a company that has tried very hard to help me navigate challenging pregnancies, bedrest, sick kids and a weird schedule, it’s absolutely true that I always feel paranoid that my parenting is going to ruin my career, or that my career is going to ruin my parenting.

I don’t need Time magazine to help me with that.

And I loved this essay by Pulitzer-winning columnist Connie Schultz about how, in retrospect, we’ll just be glad our kids are fine:

Launching your chicks into the world gives you the opportunity to look back at the nest you built for them. You can appraise yourself more gently because you know the outcome. With some sheepishness — but also a good deal of relief — you realize you weren’t so bad after all.

I used to feel guilty that I hated board games and sometimes fell asleep next to my children in the middle of reading a bedtime story. Not once has either of them ever turned to me and said, “You know, Mom, if you’d played Monopoly with me, I’d be a bank president by now.” Or, “To this day, Mom, I’m worried that Runaway Bunny never found his way home.” We all moved on.

I haven’t fallen asleep during storytime lately. But the other day I did fall asleep folding laundry, which is both pathetic and depressing. I’ve also fallen asleep before when pumping at work, which is just plain disturbing.

Philip and I have no idea if we’re doing anything right with our kids. Every day my goal is to try to enjoy being with them, not stress about work too much — I mean, what can I do, right? — spend time having dinner together, playing outside and reading together. Oh, and lately trying to force Jack to eat one bite of a fruit and one bite of a vegetable at dinner.

Beyond that? Well, keep the house if not clean at least not infested. Make time to exercise so my kids see that as a normal part of life, and so I don’t go crazy. Try to get out with my husband every six months for dinner — alone — where nobody throws food on the floor or cries or needs me to wipe their butt in the middle of it.

I don’t think my kids care about attachment parenting. Or how long I nursed them. Or that I make them sleep in their own beds, usually. They do care about sitting on my lap, about going to the library, about blowing bubbles on the front porch on a spring evening.

And when I think of my parenting friends, I don’t care if they co-sleep, nurse their dogs or whatever. Instead, I am forever grateful when one of them admits to doing something ridiculous. Like never ever cleaning the microwave out. Or throwing a towel over peed-on sheets at 3 a.m. because you just can’t take changing them in the middle of the night. I love when they admit that good enough is good enough.

Jack and Viv seem to think we’re all doing fine. At least that’s what I tell myself. Besides, it’s going to be so freakin’ hard when they’re teenagers. I’m just not going to freak out until then.

Happy running.

(Edited to add: OK, OK, I do have a comment on the Time cover. I am a huge supporter of breastfeeding. That’s no secret. But I hate this cover. Not because she has on skinny jeans, and that makes me feel fat. Not because her kid is older. Not for any of the reasons others might hate it. But because WHO nurses a kid standing on a chair? Nobody. That’s who. I hate it because it’s fake, and posed, and awkward. I don’t care if you nurse your kid in public until the kid is 12, but I’m pretty sure you won’t be doing it that way. I did nurse kids while standing up — and walking around because please, life doesn’t just stop when you have to feed the baby, not with the second one, anyway). But if you want to show that, then show a harried mom, trying to pull up a toddler’s pants while holding an infant attached to her chest. THAT is more realistic. Or show mom sitting in a comfy chair or on the bed, in the quiet moments that make up nursing. That’s realistic. Or at 3 a.m., laying in bed, wishing the baby would just maybe go back to sleep … just this once … without nursing. That’s also pretty realistic. Or crying when returning the rental pump, so terribly sad — yet glad — that being the boob is OVER. That’s pretty realistic, too. But that photo? Just weird.)

This entry was posted in Family, Genevieve, Jack, Kids, Parenting. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to On being mom enough

  1. Danni says:

    I think it’s a weird photo because that kid looks too old to be breastfeeding. There, I said it 🙂

  2. I think it’s weird because of how he’s looking at the camera!

  3. kjlm says:

    It’s creepy. I really think TIME should be embarrassed in their overt efforts to sell copies of their magazine.

    • It’s just … awkward … and not representative of nursing, you know? I mean, if you want awkward, how about trying to cover your boob up in front of the in-laws or something? There’s better awkward!

  4. Sophia says:

    It’s weird. She’s clearly in a sexy pose. It’s frustrating enough getting people to differentiate btwn boobs being sexy and boobs for feeding. This seems like a deliberate attempt to blur the line.

  5. Miranda Gargasz says:

    Well said! Ifound myself feeling like all the times I’ve been pooped on and puked on were worth it more after reading the Schultz article thanafter Time. That title was just ridiculous!

  6. Laurel says:

    I don’t even care so much about the article or attachment parenting or Dr. Sears, etc. Just parent how you parent, you know? Why does everything have to be labeled?

    The whole thing annoys me so much because the cover photo IS posed and meant to sexualize and caricature a form of parenting just for the sake of starting a firestorm and selling magazines, which is exactly what it did. The kid is on a chair to exaggerate the point even more (as are their wardrobes, expressions, etc). People don’t even care about the article, most people didn’t even read it before they started commenting on it…but the PHOTO is what gets everyone all fired up. And that was done on purpose. It’s frustrating. I totally agree that the article would have been way more credible if they had a realistic photo to go with it. I think Time did a real disservice with this one. But what do they care? They sold a ton of magazines and the cover is one of their most talked about covers of all time…even though it’s totally unrealistic and fake.

  7. curly says:

    Wait. People clean their microwaves?

  8. J – thanks for posting this…

    I spent last week thinking about what parenting means to me and what makes me happy doing it vs. when I get frustrated with myself.

    Unfortunately, I often focus on what I didn’t do versus what I accomplished.

    I realized that at any single point in time I make the best decision for Katharine, myself, my marriage, and that sometimes means that other goals are sacrificed. But I have to remember that at that decision making time, I’m happy with the decision I’ve made and that means I’m doing the best job for us.

    What’s wonderful about children is that no matter what route a person/family takes with parenting, as long as the children feel loved, respected and secure, they’ll turn out fine, regardless of whether or not we breast fed, gave them junk food, let them watch a little TV or sat around doing flash cards.

    (That means that I have to forgive Jeff for taking K to Micky D’s that one time… even if she won’t let go of it!)

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