Like most Americans I spent yesterday thinking a lot about motherhood. I was fortunate enough to spend the afternoon with my mama feeling so blessed that she has not only been a good mother but is now also my friend.
While I was contemplating motherhood, however, I also began to lament the latest media coverage on the matter. The so-called War on Women that colored much of the Republican primary race has taken a turn and become the Mommy Wars. Because I’m not a mother I’ve tried to stay silent on this issue, but because I’m a feminist writer I couldn't keep quiet for long.
The issue of attachment parenting is the center of the battle and is the topic of the Time magazine cover story Are You Mom Enough?. Though mom bloggers like Rachel Callahan say the article and its associated supplements actually weren't offensive she and many others didn't quite feel the same about the cover photo, which has caused quite a ruckus.
What troubles me about the discourse around attachment parenting is that it often pits working mothers and stay-at-home moms against one another and creates a "Motherhood vs. Feminism" narrative. In fact that was the headline for a New York Times feature exploring attachment parenting published late last month.
The piece included seven brief personal essays from mothers with varying opinions on attachment parenting. While some women believe attachment parenting hurts feminism by pushing women to give up their careers and financial security, actress and author Mayim Bialik argues that the pioneers of attachment parenting believe it is as much a feminist choice to be a parent as it is to not be one. Meanwhile, women like columnist Lashaun Williams believe that feminism pressures women to work suggest that the damage that attachment parenting is doing to feminism is a good thing.
Because I’m not a mother I don’t feel I have a right to speak on attachment parenting, but I will say that all the judgment needs to stop! I believe that a woman should have the right to choose to be a stay-at-home mom, a working mom or to not be a mom at all. And this is exactly why feminism is important to this conversation, because feminism is all about choice.
Furthermore, feminists understand that the conversation about “mothering” should be about “parenting.”
As Annie Urban writes:
Too often the discussion about women’s choices (stay at home, go back to work) ignores the role of fathers. To achieve meaningful equality, we need to push for a society that values fathers who strike a balance between their career and their family life too. Women shouldn’t have to be equally uninvolved parents to reach their goals; they should be able to ask their spouses to step up too.
Motherhood is too messy, too complicated, and too hard for society to make it even harder by urging women to judge one another instead of support one another. As we discuss complexity of motherhood let us not forget the beauty and value and sisterhood.