When my daughter was born, I was determined to be a breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, cloth-diapering, hippie mama. Nine months later, the only things that had stuck were the cloth diapers. I had just started my daughter on formula, she had been in her Baby K'tan carrier exactly five times and never once slept in her fancy little co-sleeper, which I returned to the store. And yes, I felt like a failure.
In addition, I was trying to juggle a freelance career with a baby. "Oh you can work while your child stays home!" Other moms would say excitedly. But I couldn't. I had to hire a sitter for 20 hours a week and even then I was working late into the night, over the weekends and during every naptime. On top of that, I was trying to make organic baby food and make sure she had enriching experiences that didn't include watching the Today Show while mommy double-fisted coffee.
One day, as I mixed some Annie's organic macaroni and cheese for lunch, I looked at the ingredients. They looked eerily familiar. I grabbed a box of off-brand macaroni and compared. The only difference was Annie's said "organic" in front of "cheese product."
That was the moment I gave up feeling like a failure.
The ideal of perfect parenting is just a guise. A Potemkin village set up to convince you that all is not so haphazard and horrible in the land of parenting. There is no Shangri-la of breastfeeding, co-sleeping, wholly organic perfection. You want to know why? Because every once in a while someone's gonna need a cheese puff, and it's all going to be OK. Parents: The Top 10 List For Creating Healthy Kids
In her book The Conflict, renowned feminist author Elizabeth Badinter decries the ideal of attachment parenting as ruinous to women and the feminist movement. And I don't think she's too far off the mark. Badinter connects the development of the natural parenting movement to the displacement of women in the post-World War II economy, the economic slump of the 1990s and the oil crisis of 1973. Each of these economic shifts, Badinter argues, caused society to reexamine the influence of capitalism on the family. Women who had been brought up under a new feminist reality saw the toll that balancing career and family had on their mothers, and returned to a new ideal of "maternalism."
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