Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bravo, Kneelingwoman!

Kneelingwoman had said she was struggling with what to write about. The struggle was worth it. She has produced yet another post, In the Beginning, There was Woman, that will be thought provoking for any woman, regardless of her views about homebirth. It is a long post, but at the heart of it, it asks a criticial question:
I wish someone could tell me how, in this post-modern, post-feminist culture; we have recreated a mosaic of Victorian and 1950's "Leave it to Beaver" blended up with a dose of Freud that catapults motherhood back into the gilded cage of "shoulds" and "oughts" and competitive, driven, neurotic and isolated Stepford Wives who live the "Feminine Mystique" of Betty Friedan but won't even dare to rediscover the "problem which has no name" because they don't even know how to ask the question!
Her insights on parenting, some the product of difficult and personally painful circumstances, provide both practical wisdom and comfort for young mothers who are struggling to do their best:
Being a mother is about being a mother........We give birth. We do our best each and every time. That's enough; just being who and what we are and loving what we do; is enough.

Prior to the 1950's, it was highly unusual for mothers' to spend the kind of time and attention now lavished on children and yet, for all the "attachement parenting" going on in the last 20 years; the level of behavioral, emotional and social dysfunction in children has skyrocketed and more young women and mothers are on anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications than at any time in the last two generations! The last time an entire demographic of mothers were, in large numbers, being prescribed psychiatric medications was back in the late 50's and 60's -- remember "Mother's Little Helper?"

The idea that "bonding" and "attachment" are delicate, sensitive arrangements that happen only in ideal circumstances, or only with great difficulty if anything imposes on those precious, irreplaceable few hours after birth is nonsense.
Kneelingwoman's perspective enhances the value of her comments. She can compare what natural parenting was supposed to be to what it has become:
Over the last 20 years, the "natural parenting" movement that grew out of Midwifery has had the bewildering side effect of polarizing women against women and mothers against mothers. There is a definite generational divide, in my readership, between women older than 45 who may have opted for "midwifery" attended birth in home or hospital/birth center, and who happily breastfed but who, for the most part, worked outside the home in some capacity, possibly homeschooled but in a very open, communitarian way; helping their children establish learning and social experiences across a broad spectrum of neighborhood and society. They maintained very active and diverse contacts within their respective communities and families. The women who are 35 and under who are making the same basic parenting choices but seem, in large numbers, to have embraced a kind of moral and emotional zealotry that is essentially fundamentalist! There is a strict code for "good mothering" that holds that homebirth, attended or unattended with the "supermother" edge given to those who birth unassisted, extended breastfeeding, co sleeping, no separation of mother and baby for any reason at any time well into toddlerhood, and homeschooling that is far more isolationist, in terms of the broader culture, than what we embraced back in the late 80's and early 90's. The kids seem to spend most days alone, at home, with mom and the social contacts are limited largely to planned activities with other homeschooling families. There seem to be more issues with extended family over these choices and I think it may be because of what looks like a kind of "separatist" nature to the lifestyle choices, as opposed to the more "community" oriented goals of the earlier decades.
Her conclusions are startling in their clarity and power:
It is not about home/hospital/breast/bottle/stay home/go out/love mate/love child/follow the rules/rage against the machine/'s about being real people and about finding, and being, the true self. When a woman makes choices from her own, interior sense of what is right for her; with due consideration to the health and safety of her mate, children and community; she sets the right example for showing others what true autonomy is and how one lives life "close to the root" of one's own values.
Good mothering is about being a whole person who has chosen to bring other people into the world to give them a shot at being whole people too. If a woman is mothering out of a lack of options or if she is making mothering choices out of a belief that options, like breastfeeding or birthing in bliss at home, will allow her to feel powerful and important when she has done nothing else in her life to give her that affirmation; she will not be a good mother because all will be done "on empty"......on fumes. A good mother doesn't care one bit what "other mothers" are doing. She makes friends with other mothers' because they have kids in common. A good mother knows that her kids are watching and that every rejection made on grounds of "choices" and "lifestyle" teaches her children to make similar decisions; contributing one more generation of people who divide and segregate and separate and maintain prejudicial attitudes and judgements. We end up with another generation of War..........
Head over to Kneelingwoman's blog to read the post in its entirety. It will take your breath away.

0 Old Comments: