I know I’m late coming to this particular party, but I had to crunch some numbers, and you all know that math is NOT my best subject. But I’ve done the measurements. I’ve gotten the data and polling numbers in from my constituents, and statistics can basically confirm that I am, in fact, Mom Enough*.
Time Magazine’s May 22nd cover article “Are You Mom Enough” tries to paint a fair picture of attachment parenting. Proponents of attachment parenting are “staunch devotees” whose style of parenting is “more about parental devotion and sacrifice than about raising self-sufficient kids.” Opponents balk at the practicalities of attachment parenting and its “demanding brand of child rearing.” Sure, the writer, Kate Pickert, employs some loaded words. But it was the headline that got everyone’s attention, and the very sensationalist cover. “Are you Mom Enough?”
Most of the attention regarding this article stops right there, with the headline and the cover. You don’t even have to read the article inside — which is titled “The Man Who Remade Motherhood” (and is mostly an article about Dr. Bill Sears and the brand of parenting he espouses in his mass marketing media campaign aimed at parents) — because you’re already feeling defensive! Time knows how powerful an image and headline can be to sell magazines. The article doesn’t matter. The image is all you need. Are you a slender, attractive woman, confidently and defiantly breastfeeding your 4-year-old while millions peek? How can you possibly compare?
I actually like Dr. Sears. I think attachment parenting has some lovely tenets. But I subscribe more to the casserole technique of parenting than drinking the Kool-Aid on any one parenting philosophy. As you probably know if you’ve read anything I’ve written here in the last 10 years.
But that’s not the point. Time’s cover was so evocative that it spurred heated conversations all over the world about what it means to be Mom Enough. People got defensive. They drew lines. And it’s human nature for us to get out our yardsticks to see how we compare. Are you mom enough? Well, I read this as a challenge, regarding my own choices: Do my children have positive, inspirational, powerful adult role models, even though I chose a more traditional path and gave up my career to be a SAHP?
Some recent articles I’ve read about parenting suggest that women who have chosen to follow the tenets of attachment parenting have “subscribed to the misogynist plot to take women out of the workplace.”
I don’t feel much like I am slapping feminism or some other -ism in the face by choosing to align in part with attachment parenting, or if I draw from some other brand of parenting that attracts media attention for a number of years/months/weeks. At least not consciously. I think I’m more just trying to do the best I can. And I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I am at war.
It all goes back to Mom Guilt, right? What is the right way to parent our children? As if there were one path, one direction you should head in so that your kids turn out to be well-adjusted, self-sufficient, career-minded, goal-oriented paragons of awesomeness. We read the parenting articles and feel the guilty tug of living up to expectations that aren’t realistic to us or our experience. It starts to feel like no matter your choice, you fail.
It’s exhausting. I balk at the notion that I need to subscribe to a way of parenting that redefines womanhood/motherhood or reaffirms the traditional role of a “stay at home” parent. I’ll just be over here, on the side, doing my thing, thank you very much.
I sing my victory song. Hell yes, I am Mom Enough.
I hope you live your life with all the happiness and joy that being a parent can bring. If you love a child and are helping raise that child, chances are good that you are also enough. You are even, possibly, more than enough.
*And, please understand that I’m using Time Magazine’s term “Mom” throughout this post, instead of the term I would prefer, which is “Parent.” Please insert the word that best describes how you identify, e.g. Dad, Grandma, Grown-up-in-charge, etc.