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Read this, not that : Mommy Wars edition

11 May

Just as I finally put words to how I’ve been feeling about the pressures of mommy perfection and the conflicts we all face in choosing how we raise our children, BAM! A struggling magazine ignites the mommy wars with heavy-handed headlines and provocative photographs. Well, I say don’t pay attention. Don’t give in and make the magazine’s attempt to stoke fires and create controversy successful. It only hurts us, the parents, and the parenting communities we need and appreciate.

Read this, instead: http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2012/05/10/its-time-to-stop-fighting-the-mommy-wars/ It’s a great opinion from Stroller Derby on the whole thing. Hat tip to Spanglish Baby for the link.

Conflicted over The Conflict

9 May

The mommy wars reignite every so often with a news article and it makes for great web traffic and ridiculous commentary. My problem with this occasional buzz is that it misrepresents the fact that moms do deal with these questions of parenting every day. The grocery store we visit is a parenting choice. So is where we live, what kind of detergent we buy, when to start feeding baby solid foods, and everything else in between is a potential conflict. Elisabeth Badinter’s book The Conflict posits that the central problem with modern motherhood puts the child above the mother. This Salon.com article was sent to me by a local mom group and it got me thinking about this. I see the various views on this issue because, like most things, it’s just not as cut and dry and the book suggests.

In this scary, scary world, mothers are the first line of defense for their children and this prompts mothers to be eco-friendly and do their best to provide a non-toxic and accident-proof environment. Hell, it starts during pregnancy for some women. Moms run around finding the right cloth diapers, sustainable wood furniture and toys, organic everything, and everything else that is certified as “awesome.” It’s tough to do that if you’re poor (this stuff tends to be more expensive) or have a full-time job outside the home (this stuff tends to be time consuming.) The gold standard of motherhood seems (in some circles) to involve breastfeeding forever and banishing all non-organic things from your life. I know that in my experience, the moms are definitely like that. The mommy list-serv I’m on fires away daily with discussions about breastfeeding toddlers, co-sleeping, cloth diapers, and vegan meals for baby-led weaning. But Badinter might be off the mark in thinking this is the norm. Reality and pragmatism crush ideals quickly so women who thought they might puree organic pears with love find themselves with store-bought food and disposable diapers because, honestly, there just isn’t enough time in the day. I’m just saying, these followers of what Badinter calls “ecological parenting” are a sect.

 

I also confess to being an organic-seeking home-pureeing crazy mom. Even before babies came into the picture I was a farmers market devotee and lover of organics. Yes, I buy my daughter organic cotton clothing when I can (when it’s on sale) and try to feed her as much local, homemade food as possible. It seems like every day there is a new study about our toxic food supply and its links to illnesses that plague our children. It’s scary. Our parents didn’t live in a world where your fresh vegetables poison your body or where your kids’ toys were toxic. Our parents also lacked a lot of the scientific research we now have available. It is incumbent upon me to take that information and do something about it. I would feel like a bad parent knowing that something was bad for my child yet still letting that bad element into my house. That’s the conflict I feel most. And that’s where Badinter needs to cut moms a break.

I probably won’t completely baby-proof my house, but I’m also not serving my kid sodas with high-fructose corn syrup or fast food burgers. It is our responsibility to keep our kids safe and set a good example. For me, that meant breastfeeding until my baby was 8 months old and eating organic farmers market food. Anyone can be extreme and I think Badinter is extreme in her argument against granola moms. Then again, I think granola moms are kind of extreme, too. The most important thing for moms is to reduce stress in their lives and different things cause stress in different people. I can’t wait until this mommy war crap stops.

When do we get to pit dads against dads?