Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Little Note On Competitive Momming...

And I say "Momming" because I don't see a lot of people who identify as "dads" or just plain "parents" out there attacking each other online.  I have been going back and forth on this post- join in the attacking by attacking the attackers? Or just shut the f up and let them be? But grrr they got under my skin. That, and Matt's eyes are starting to glaze over when I bring up the subject again, much in the same way mine do when he starts talking about beef and radish caviar or quarterbacks.  So I must vent.
I am so disheartened by what I read women writing to and about each other on these horribl(ly addictive) blogs!  I'm not sure why I keep going back to check out the "comments" section of each and every post that piques my interest (it may or may not have something to do with my complete and utter lack of adult conversation during an average day). It is kind of like when someone takes a bite out of some questionable food and says "Eww! That's disgusting! Here, try it!" and you do...I just keep logging on to watch these meanies tear one another apart. Who knew that giving birth and nursing your baby was like, the new PhD? I mean, it is incredibly difficult. That's no secret.  But, if you'll ride this argument out with me: for cisgendered women who are able and willing, isn't having a baby and feeding it kind of...average? I know emotionally it feels just amazing and extraordinary to the individual.  It really does, you'll find no argument from me on that point.  But biologically, it is doing what is expected.  You're a C student.  Raising a child, having a healthy, functioning family to show for your efforts--that is what earns you the "A", if you will.  Yet here these women are, technologically beating the hell out of one another, hiding behind handles like "emmasmom247", for the  heinous crime of supplementing breast milk with the occasional bottle of formula.  It is disgusting!  I recently saw a post from a mother who said she was excited to not breast feed.  You and me both, sister! So I checked it out.  There were 200+ comments about how awful and selfish the poster was! What?! Obviously, if you haven't heard that "breast is best" then you're parenting from the stone age of the 1950s or, you know, have other shit going on in your life and don't obsess over how other people feed their children. I'm nursing Isaac, I know it is the best for him-- but lord almighty, I cannot WAIT to hang up my nursing bras for good.  Is it selfish to fantasize about leaving the house? To dream of one day soothing him without having to disrobe? Am I "Mean Mommy" because I would like someone else to feed the baby for one hot god damned second while I get up to pee could you please stop screaming for just that long?  "Parenting is a sacrifice" they say and "it is your job to change your schedule for your baby's". Well, yeah, no shit.  Parenting is one sacrifice after another.  You trade in your home, your routine, your life, your relationships, your body, your train of thought, your clean car, and very often your dignity for your little Ruiner.  There are so many sacrifices, so many decisions made on your child's behalf, to brutalize a mother for choosing formula over breast milk is just absurd to me! It is not like she posted a blog entitled "Jesus, I Wish I'd Had Another Abortion" or "I Can't Wait to Feed My Baby Nothing But Maple Syrup and Scalding Hot Oil". She is going with the worst-best option.  When she starts putting slurrpies in that baby bottle, sure let's lose it on her.  But for now, let her live.
And, in my opinion, it is when we begin to conflate the duties of parenting with the tasks of a job that we begin to go off track. Taking care of a child is WAY bigger than a job.  My job I can leave.  I go to it willingly, I work as hard as required, I get to leave when the day is done. Being a parent is an all-the time thing.  When I'm at my job I'm still a parent but when I'm home with the kid I'm sure as hell not a waitress.  If I don't do my best at work I could get fired, I could loose customers, I could incur the wrath of my co-workers. But life goes on.  If I screw up at parenting? The consequences are much worse.  Meth Head worse. And as much as I wish I could pay my heating bill with coos and baby smiles, I get paid to do my job. Unfortunately, in this country you don't get paid to parent. So there's one good reason not to devalue the all-consuming duties of parenting by calling it a job. Also, a job requires a certain level of training, often an education and sometimes a very good deal of schooling.  You don't need those to be a good parent.  You do, however, need them to be a good surgeon. People spend years and years working on their careers and have every reason to be proud of that, to value that.  Liking your job, loving your job, going to your job, none of those things make you a bad parent! I bet it makes many people a better parent.  Having an identity outside your home is not only OK but it is your right! Women worked really hard to earn the right to have both identities.
I guess I'd gotten into my head that breast feeding was a feminist act: that women were coming around and reclaiming parenting from major corporations.  Like selling water in a plastic bottle, feeding your baby with evaporated milk by-product isn't necessary. We come with ready-made baby food so why buy it? Now, however, I feel so put-off by the Breast Feeding Volunteer Police Department that I could buy stock in Similac just to make a point. I feel like being a breast feeding enforcer is about as feminist a statement as voting for Sarah Palin: kind of what we had in mind...but not really. If women are using it as just another reason for snarky back-stabbing and shit talk then I'm not sure it's a bandwagon I want to jump on. So Ike and I are going to chug on, he with his fat-boy eating habits and me fumbling with my nursing bra, until one day when I'll be free of the very rewarding and very exacting job of feeding homeboy from my own body. I'm comfortable with my ambivalence. I envy women who have the wherewithal to nurse baby after baby for years at a time.  I also ain't mad at formula users either.  How could you be?