I saw a post today about the importance society places upon the mother. It got me thinking. Before you wonder, the actual content of the post, the color of the meme, all of that is unimportant. And to be honest, the idea that we place importance on a mother is wrong. We place importance (and a subjective importance at that) on her decisions.
The debates are endless. Some are in the mainstream and political arenas. Should she have the right to choose? Should she have the right to breastfeed where she chooses? Some are less talked about - albeit definitely mainstream in Mom World - like whether to vaccinate or should she use the cry it out method. Like I said earlier, it comes back to that subjectivity and what the person feels is right.
I've met a few of these moms who feel like the decisions that they make are only the right ones for the entire world's population. Here's a personal example (and a wee bit of a confession) - I hate breastfeeding. It's true. When I had my first child, I was very young. My breasts were not for feeding a kid - at least in my mind. I nursed the next three (for various months of time) despite having a miserable experience. I was young (still), in a miserable marriage, and had a lot of small kids. It was a chore.
When I had my fifth child 10 years after the other "baby" of the family, I decided to go for it again. I now had older kids. Not all were home schooled at the time, but all were busy going here and there for sports, friends, or whatever else. Hayden also had latch issues, which created the need for me to use a shield and pump. Breastfeeding was now a chore all over again.
When Hayden was eight weeks old, I came into the room to find my once sleeping baby red in the face and gasping. I found out the next day that it was acid reflux. I was told that I had the choice give her special formula or to give her medication. I did my homework and found that no studies existed at the time to show long-term effects for the medicine. I knew the ones for formula. I chose to go the formula route. As soon as I told my network of moms, I had one tell me that I didn't love my daughter because I didn't keep breastfeeding. I made the best decision for my family. Clearly, it was not one that she would have chosen - or even one that others who supported my decision would have chosen to do themselves.
I try very hard to not judge people. I have learned that a lot of times - probably most actually - we have no idea what is truly going on, how a person reaches their decisions, or anything else. But I am human. While I am not typically vocal about it, I will think to myself, "Why won't she just _______." Despite this being an internal thing, it's not without harm. I try to put out what I want back in return. I face enough judgment without creating more of it!
I was a teen mom. I had my oldest (now 21) at 15.
I was a teen bride. I got married 3 days after turning 18. That marriage lasted until I was 23 (24 if you count the whole year it took to get him to sign papers and for us to go through the process of the divorce).
I have five kids.
I home school.
I used cloth diapers.
I could go on and on about the decisions that I make (and made) that people put enough importance on to go beyond asking me questions like how I manage and instead give me snide remarks like wondering if I know what birth control is.
So why don't we do the same with dads? Do we think that they have no part in the decision-making? Do we feel that they just kowtow and go with the flow? Do we think that they don't care? The questions are about as endless as the debates, but my take on it is this: It comes down to different rules for different roles. Is it fair? I don’t think so.
Before you start demanding my head on a stake, please understand that I’m not bashing fathers in the least. My husband was raised by a single father. The two of them have really altered my own perception of what the father is supposed to be. My problem lies with the decision society has made to allow these rules to guide the roles which has created an environment that fosters the judgment – possibly even requires it in some cases. But rules were made to be broken, right? Sometimes.
I would like to see importance placed on the mother. This Mom World would consist of women who would not have to laugh when they want to cry. They would have bras that they bought to replace the holey ones without any mommy guilt. They would be able to vent about their feelings without wondering if someone was going to go behind their back and gossip or expose them without consent. And most importantly, they would be free from judgment because we would all understand that parenting isn’t one size fits all.
Well, it’s always nice to dream.