February 23, 2012

Family Fridays: Perfect Madness - Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety

Oh My Gawd. This book is so amazing and I am only on page 30. Judith Warner started motherhood in France and then moved back to America when her youngest was 6 months old only to find that motherhood here was frighteningly different. I have wanted to highlight all over this book - but have to sustain since it is from the library - it is just that good. It hits on so many facets of motherhood that I have experienced so far and, like I said, I am only on page 30!

She touches on the anxieties we, as mothers everywhere but I guess much more so in the States, have - and remember, this was published pre-Pinterest where the super-moms have the platform to share their crazy wonderful birthday party themes and DIY projects. Seriously, it is insanely intimidating.

Right off the bat, she talks about a sensitive subject that I think many women would get in a tizzy about one way or the other - "(In America) I found the pressure to breastfeed for at least a year, to endure natural childbirth, and to tolerate the boundary breakdowns of "attachment parenting" - baby-wearing, co-sleeping, long-term breastfeeding and the rest of it - cruelly insensitive to mothers' needs as adult women."

Sometimes our lives just do not give the space and time to practice these wonderful maternal activities - and I think a lot of mothers feel guilty admitting that they don't want their children sleeping with them in bed (ah! the insecurities that will result) or to wean their babies off breastfeeding before the year is up (ah! the bonding and nutrients!). I think more importantly she is pointing out that the insane pressures from our society is quite insensitive to us as human beings. We, as the mothers, should have the authority and blessing from our community to make the choices we deem right for our family.

Just the other day, I was expressing some guilt about weaning my 10 month old son to a few feedings a day so that I can wean him entirely by the time he is one. I breastfed my daughter until she was 17 months...so 12 months seems so, well, so short and soon! Would people think I am selfish for quitting so early (and is 12 months even that early?!)? Would he lose precious bonding time? Would he lack key nutrients form my milk that formula or goat's milk can't provide?

But I know, as the mother of this family, that if I stop nursing in the next few months, it will alleviate the exhaustion I feel when he is ripping my shirt down to snack every twenty minutes or the stress that starts to build up as he is whining and clinging to me with a death grip in the grocery store. I think, we as a family, will be better off once he is no longer attached to my boob for the better part of the day. But yet...I still have to express my guilt or my excuses when I broach the subject to anyone.

Judith highlights so many realties that I think I will touch on them one at a time over the coming weeks. There is just too much to cover in one post. So please, stick with me here and I think you will find some interesting table topics to discuss or twirl around in your head.

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