Remember this cover?
I was thinking today about how narrow the societal view is of optimal parenting. What would society’s perfect mother look like?
Society’s Perfect Mother…
(Hold on tight people…this is going to be a ride)
- Birth - She would have a hospital birth, but vaginally, because home births kill babies and C-sections kill mothers.
- Body- She will be exercising soon after delivery. Light exercise with baby, nothing more than that, because that is selfish, and nothing less than that, because that is selfish. Her figure would be given a pass in society for the first six months after delivery because “She just had a baby,” but since this is the society’s perfect mother she will be told “You look amazing, you would never even know you just had a baby,” because the postpartum body is an acceptable defect for the first six months, but it is better to avoid it all together. This mom looks physically attractive for society’s standards.
- Breastfeeding – She would breastfeed her baby for six months. No more than that, because that is abusive, and no less than that, because that is abusive. She will use a cover when in public, or better yet, find a private area whenever possible. She would also pump, because we all know fathers cannot bond with their babies unless they feed them bottles.
- Sleeping – Baby would sleep in a crib in her room for the first few months of life, but not the kind of crib with the drop down side since those are now deemed dangerous and all recalled. This would be the new safe crib with the breathable bumper and a white noise machine that mimics the sound of the mother breathing, which is supposed to prevent SIDS, but isn’t really the mom breathing because that would mean the baby is in bed with her and if baby is co-sleeping in bed with mom and dad then she will get smothered and die. Then, after those first few months of life have passed baby will get moved into her own room because she is impeding on mom and dad’s romantic time together, and we cannot have that.
- Sex – She will start having sex again with her partner as soon as she is cleared by her doctor and it will be with the same frequency and verve as it was before baby came, this is of course expected of her, but not discussed or alluded to outside of her home because this mother is poised and modest and dresses and acts like a mother now that she has a baby. You know that lady Ludacris mentions? “A lady in the street but a freak in the bed”- Yeah, he was singing about this mom. She is pretty, but not too pretty as to make other women jealous, and successful, but not too successful as to threaten her husband’s career. She has supplementary income to keep the family living the dream.
- Career – And since we’re on the topic of career, mom went back to work at 3 months postpartum where she is expected to pump milk for her baby (because formula is poison at this age, didn’t you know that?) And do it without offending the sheltered staff or interrupting her day. She is like the Ninja of breast-pumping. No one knows she has done it, but she somehow manages to go home with a crate full of milk every day for her baby. (Stored covered in the refrigerator at work, as to not offend people from seeing human milk, because that’s icky…)
Whew, I am exhausted for her! And we haven’t even gotten out of infancy yet! Just think of the social pressures that come once her child hits toddler-hood and beyond.
This mom may exist and be very happy, but the fact that society puts this kind of pressure on every single mother- expecting that experience or needs should be the same for everyone (and the judgment that comes if it veers from the norm) is what I have a huge problem with.
I urge you all to make a list of all the parenting decisions you have felt pressured by society to make (whether you followed or not) and post them on here. What has fascinated me is that there are so many contradictory pressures society places on women, especially mothers, so that you truly are “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”
So, if you are feeling like social pressures are getting the better of you, take a look above, read about that mom, and you tell me if you really want to be her? It is a lot easier (and healthier) to follow your instincts and listen to trusted experts and close trusted friends and family to lead you on the right path.