Thursday, June 7, 2012

Are You Mom Enough?

I replay a lot of memories from the first year of Mack's life.  Many memories are wonderful while others I would like to forget and pretend they never existed. There is one memory I find particularly humorous as well as equally horrendous.  

We had just picked up our 6-month-old from the church nursery.  It was wet and rainy in Chicago so JB ran to the parking garage to get the car.  While I stood in the lobby waiting, two elderly women begin to "oooh" and "ahhh" over Mack.  This wasn't unusual so I played along. At some point, the "small talk" turned to the topic of breastfeeding.  How and why, I'm still not sure but I can say without a doubt that I was not the one to steer the conversation in this direction.  The fact that I'm addressing this story in a public blog is actually surprising to me since any topic of female anatomy usually makes me blush.

I remember halting all of my participation in the conversation at this point.  I let the two elderly women take over and I was generally interested to hear what they would say and how the conversation would play out.  Perhaps this was my first mistake.  Maybe, I should have taken my squirmy baby and made a run for the rainy streets rather than wait for the safety of my car.  But I didn't.  I stayed and found myself in the crossfire of two judgmental, old hags.  

...Oops, did I just write that?

I listened.  I listened as they talked together about God's purpose for breastfeeding, how breastfeeding is the natural, God intended way for babies to be fed.  At this point I couldn't necessarily disagree with anything I was hearing but none-the-less, because of my horrible six week, hell-of-an experience with breastfeeding, I was beginning to blow steam from my corner of the room.  

Do I believe that breastfeeding is the most nutritional way for a baby to be fed?  Absolutely.  Do I believe that God's original intent was for mothers to feed their babies in this way? Yes. Do I believe that it is the best option for every mother out there, today? No, I absolutely do not.  In a perfect world, every mother would deliver her baby and he or she would immediately take to feeding from the breast.  We don't live in a perfect world though. We live in a fallen world. My baby and I fought tirelessly to make breastfeeding work.  In the end, it was not the natural, God intended way for me to feed my daughter.  For us, the most bonding and nurturing took place with her at my breast.... while I fed her from a bottle.  

With all of that said, I'll get down off of my soap box and tell you how the conversation took an even greater turn for the worst.  As I stood listening to these two women converse back and forth, one of them turned to Mackenzie.  She looked directly at her, smiled and said in a chipper voice, "You're such a happy baby.  You must be breastfed." 

Oh. No. You. Didn't.  That was all I could think.  That is all I can still think to this day.  I love old people.  I work with old people for God's sake.  But never before have I wanted to all out sucker punch an old woman.  As far as I'm concerned, this old lady might as well have written the headline for Time Magazine's May issue which begs the question to all non-breastfeeding moms out there, "Are you mom enough?"

I left the church that day feeling angry, guilty, judged and just plain flabbergasted by the nerve of these  women.  But the saddest part, is that, like these women, Time Magazine's recent issue has demonstrated an unfortunate truth.  There are actually moms out there who pit themselves against other moms, and build themselves up, surely convinced that they are making better choices for their child(ren) than other moms.  To this I ask: Where is the support?  Where is the encouragement? Where is the camaraderie that can be found just in the basic fact that we are ALL moms who are trying our damn hardest to love our kids and give them everything they need?

I have struggled greatly with this concept since giving birth to my daughter.  And maybe it all goes back to our inherent desire to be seen as "Wisteria Lane" type moms.  But really, when I'm talking to another mom about how my daughter just can't get the hang of potty training, I don't care to hear about how my parenting style is the problem.  If you ask me, that's judgment.  That's you telling me in your "ever-so-smug" way, that you are doing it "better". What I really want and need, is for you to tell me, "She's going to get it!"  or "Hang in there, toilet training was hard for us too!"  When I'm exhausted and having a day where I feel like I can't do anything right as a mother, the last thing I need is for another mom to showcase her child as an angel, all the while helping to build my "Failure Mom" plaque even larger and shinier.

I'm not writing to bash or criticize Time Magazine, Dr. Sears or even his attachment parenting philosophy.  Although I will admit, after seeing the front cover's bold headline, I was quite prepared be hot headed and angry at whoever wrote the article.  Oddly enough, I finished reading and found myself wondering why the headline, "Are You Mom Enough?" was even on the cover.  I didn't come away from the article convinced that it actually made any headway with convincing society of Dr. Sears' successful child rearing style.  If anything, I felt like parts of the article took aim at mocking him and his followers.  More than likely, the title was a gimmick to sell the issue and draw in readers.  I read it... so it worked!

My purpose in writing today is primarily to vent.  Don't we all just need that sometimes?  I also love to encourage my momma friends out there who are having a rough time.  Because whether we would like to admit it or not, we all have those days.  And please, please don't be one of those who looks snootily at the mom in the grocery store who just can't seem to keep her kid in line.  She might just need a big hug and for someone to tell her she's doing the best she can.

The other night, Mack was having trouble sleeping. Although, we try not to make rocking her an every night event, I am fully aware that these moments are becoming fewer and farther between now so on this particular night, I picked her and her tattered blue elephant up and we all snuggled together.  As I quietly rocked her and "Ted", I heard her whisper, "I love you Momma.  I'm ready to go in my own bed now."  I whispered "I love you too" and tucked her back underneath the covers.  As I fell asleep that night I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed with joy.  I didn't need to breastfeed my daughter to bring her to this place.  She is safe and secure.  She knows she is loved and she is happy. And at the end of the day, If my daughter is all of these things, then I know I must be doing something right.  And I can fall asleep and rest easy knowing that, I am mom enough.


  1. You are an amazing mama, and that brought a tear to me eye. Nicely said : )

    1. "to my eye", sorry to sound like a pirate there for a minute haha

  2. Beautiful!! I cant wait for the day Lexi tells me that :)

  3. Cried many tears with this article.... Ironic how many things we have in common