Thursday, January 24, 2008

What Kind of Mom am I?

There are so many labels out there that people use to describe who they are as a parent. Having just had Molly 4 months ago, I am just beginning to get an idea of what it all means. After getting a bit isolated at home, I started trying to get out more to meet other mothers. I go to graduate school part-time, but there are no mothers in my program. My own mother is my hero and I learn a lot from her, but I ventured out in my area to try to meet some people in my peer group.

There was the La Leche League Meeting option, the babywearing option, various religious mothering groups, people that are into Attachment Parenting , people that think attachment parenting is problematic like this blogger.

Look on some of the parenting forums and see how people describe themselves:
"I'm a crunchy, cloth diapering, breastfeeding, babywearing, cosleeping, SAHM."


"I'm a jesus-praising, pro-life, proud christian, SAHM."

They even have little pictures next to their signatures of crosses or babywearing or whatever.

Confused yet? Never knew that these are the choices you have to describe yourself as a mother/person? Notice nobody ever calls themself a proud atheist, pro-choice, baby sleeps in crib, un-crunchy, plastic diapering, formula feeding, busy CEO of a fortune 500 company mom. At least I have not seen this description as yet.

Is that because all those mothers are too busy to get out and meet other mothers? Or is it because for some reason, the labels people use are the only ones we are supposed to be proud of?
Also notice how some ideas always seem to go together as if doing one means you do all the others. For example, if you talk to someone from La Leche League, you will get a wealth of information about breastfeeding, but the Attachment parenting philosophy with cosleeping is often emphasized.

For me this is really tough because I find that I fit in with No ONE. Where are all the other moms who haven't picked a philosophy and rigidly adhered to it as the ONLY way. I am breastfeeding , trying out cloth diapers, and I have really liked putting my child in a sling for trips to the store, but am not at all interested in cosleeping or going totally green in my home. Last night I let my baby Cry It Out.

Where does that leave me? That depends on whether or not the moms with labels can accept people like me who are parents that pick and choose ideas based on what they think their child needs. I breastfeed because it is generally considered best for baby but I think people that choose to formula feed are making the best choice for them. I am trying cloth diapering because my child seemed allergic to something in disposables and I like the idea of recycling diapers. But I can see why people use disposables. I choose to put my baby in the crib because she sleeps better, we sleep better, and I believe that in my family there needs to be a kid free zone for the adults. This is not to say that we have to equate all choices as equal but we should try not to box ourselves in so much in how we describe ourselves. People like me are excluded sometimes and sit quietly wondering where the other moms without a philosophy are.


Grendel's Mom said...

It sounds like you're really trying to be the best Mom for Molly rather than trying to fit into some pre-existing ideology about motherhood. That makes sense--Molly hasn't been encultured to know that breastfeeding goes with baby-wearing. She needs what she needs, and that's determined by her, not by current fashions.

As for me, I plan to be a breastfeeding, occasional martini-drinking, lullaby-singing, book-writing, scholar-teacher mom who studies Christianity but doesn't go to church--and who knows what else I'll add to that list as this baby makes her needs known. This is, probably, a community of one, but I'm fine with that.

After all, we wouldn't be part of our family if we fit into the easy labels, now would we? Hey, maybe you're my community.

Amy Sherrod said...

In so many ways the chromosomes didn't fall very far from the parental double helix.