Childrearing

Dear TIME Magazine: I Am ‘Mom Enough,’ Thank You Very Much

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You’re familiar with French feminist psychologist Corinne Maier, who said, “I really regret it. I really regret having children,” right? Well, she just might have popularized this whole anti-child notion that the recent bevy of unfulfilled women — not the childless or childless by choice, mind you — are devalued citizens because of what modern motherhood (in essence the burdensome task of raising children) “does” to the corporation of womanhood. Because let’s face it, boldly proclaiming that you actually prefer putting your child’s needs before your own means that you, young lady, are no supporter of women [*wags finger*]!  In fact, it is likely that you suffer from self-loathing, low self-esteem and you dislike women. Which of course means that you have little concern for your “plight” because your allegiance is to the little human beings with whom you have an inherent symbiotic relationship, and not The Sisterhood, you disloyal heretic!

But if we’re being logical — instead of judgmental, ahem — why is it inconceivable that a woman can be fulfilled by being “just” a mom? If a woman feels fulfilled by wearing her child, feeding on demand, making homemade lentil soup, and spending her days in non-stop contact with her offspring, while “ignoring nature in order to run behind her children and ply them with organic snacks” — really? — why do we presume that something is radically wrong with the woman? Why don’t we question the economic system that creates the hostile environment that perpetrates the notion that women’s work and/or choices should be the target for endless, mindless chatter? Why do we not turn the tables and reject the media-created Mommy Wars narrative whose specific purpose is to undermine, undervalue and scoff at women’s choices?

Indeed, it is fairly obvious to me that an AP mom does in fact meet some of her own needs by virtue of her making the decision to be an AP parent in the first place. In other words, this mom is satisfying her need to ensure that she is meeting the needs of her child. And if a woman personally feels satisfied, gratified and justified by this level of attachment to her child, why can’t we just leave it up to her good judgment? I personally have had many acquaintances ask, “How can you stand to be around you children all day?” and I’ve often wondered, well, why did you have children in the first place if you couldn’t? It’s an inexcusably snarky retort, of course, but I mention this to illustrate the level of judgment we place on women’s choices that are unlike ours; particularly those choices which seem uncharacteristically alien to those of us who made different choices.

If you’re not an AP mom but employ other moms to care for your children while you yourself work, what then? Certainly there are mitigating circumstances under which many of us employ nannies and childcare workers, many of whom are mothers themselves, but when we shame the working mother who is unable to raise her own children, why don’t we blame the model and not the mother? At the same time, why do we undervalue the voices, opinions, and narratives of the nannies and childcare workers who look after our children? When was the last time you heard her story?

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