Are you Mom enough?

4 years ago

Time magazine asked the question ''Are you Mom enough?" in an article dated May 21, 2012. You might remember this particular issue for it's sensationalist cover of a mother breastfeeding her older child who was standing on a stool which you can see here.

I remember when this cover was released and the outrage it provoked in many people. The idea that a magazine would publish such an image was thought to be lewd and unnecessary. The idea that a mother would nurse a child in public *gasp* and especially the idea that they would breastfeed a child past the age of 1 was seen as outrageous.

We talked about this cover in my class on Human Sexuality and there was a great divide among the students. We debated about the age in which you should end breastfeeding. Some people said as soon as the baby gets teeth. Others said until 3. One in our class said she didn't see a problem nursing until the child was reading to stop. Where do I stand on this issue? Well, I'm not sure. My son is now 9 months old and I breastfeed him. I've wondered many times when to stop but I haven't come up with that answer yet but I can tell you the fact that he has teeth is NOT a factor in that decision.

I wasn't enraged by the covers image although I did find it to be a bit ridiculous. I was, however, enraged by the question it asked.

Are you Mom enough?

As a woman and a mother I am constantly second guessing myself and wondering "Is what I'm doing going to cause irreparable harm to my child that will have long lasting effects on them well into adulthood?" I remember with my first son I was so insecure about my talent as a mother that it kept me up at night.I think every mom has those thoughts and insecurities as well.  I was so upset by that question that I didn't even bother reading the article.

I wish I had sooner.

The article isn't so much about breastfeeding as it is about parenting styles, attachment parenting specifically. This is something that my husband and I have struggled with since our son Harrison was born. We tried to get him to sleep in a bassinet that was right next to my side of the bed but he cried whenever we put him down. So he slept with us.

Then when he was about 3 months old he would cry all night long. Then my friend Libby suggested putting him in his crib. So we tried that and it worked. We'd lay him down and he'd go right to sleep but that only lasted about a month. After that anytime we put him in his crib he'd cry so we'd go get him and put him in bed with us. Then we decided that he slept better alone and put him down in his own bed and did the cry it out method which was really hard and contrary to our instincts.

We bought our house and moved in in September of this year and had a week here at the new place on an air mattress until our stuff was moved so he slept with us again. We got his crib set up and tried to lay him down in it but he just cried. This time he cried for over 3 hours while we went in every few minutes to console him. We did this for a couple of days and finally we sat down and had a serious conversation.

Do we as parents continue to do what we feel is contrary to our instincts? What are the effects of doing the cry it out method? What are the effects of letting him sleep with us in our bed? What do we feel is right for us. In the end we decided to let him sleep with us because that is what felt instinctively right. Especially for my husband who is from Vietnam and in that culture they co sleep for a long time.

When people learn that he sleeps with us we hear many judgements from "Aren't you afraid you'll roll over on him and suffocate him?" to "Oh boy...it's going to be very difficult to get him to sleep on his own when he gets older!"

After doing making this decision I did some research on attachment parenting because I kept hearing about it as a parenting style. What I found was that its a parenting style where the parents co sleep, the mother breastfeeds, the baby is worn in a sling or carrier and the mother (in most cases but not all) stays home to raise the baby.

BINGO!

That was basically the style in which we were parenting minus the sling/carrier part. Harrison never cared much for that. I would put him in a carrier and he'd scream bloody murder until I took him out. Maybe he's claustrophobic...who knows?

So the baby sleeps with us. Does it affect our love life. Yes, greatly but we've talked about it at great length and we both understand that it's for a short time. In the grand scheme of things a couple of years with less sex is not going to kill us or ruin our marriage. Does it affect our social life? Somewhat. Where we go the baby goes so we don't get many date nights alone. I think the last date night we had was in May but we have one set up for Friday and I am very much looking forward to that.

So back to the question "Are you Mom enough?" I think that is something that each Mom will have to come to terms with. In our society it is increasingly difficult to find that solid ground to stand on. One study says this another says that and that doesn't even take into account the judgements we feel from other moms.

I decided to stay home with our son and I breastfeed. Those are two really big sacrifices and commitments on my part but I see it as a short term thing that will greatly help our son grow up to be a well adjusted person in the long run.

Do I judge other women on how they parent? Honestly, sometimes I do. I think it's human nature to do so. I remind myself that not everyone can afford to stay home and some people can't breastfeed due to medical issues. I don't understand women who say that they couldn't stand being at home with their kids and that it would drive them nuts but I guess as long as their kids are well cared for, and well adjusted who am I to judge. Right?

I know that as women we should be supportive and encouraging to each other instead of catty and pulling others down. I understand it's a trait in women that goes back to caveman days to be competitive with other women but you would think after this many years we'd evolve and not feel the need to do that. I guess some bad habits die hard, huh?

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