Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Meaning of Motherhood: Babies and Breastfeeding and Hollywood's Top Fashion Accessories

Early motherhood seems to be the "thing" to do now. With some of our most popular and loved starlets either preggers or recently giving birth, mommyhood has made a huge leap from the message boards and play groups into the covetable spots on the covers of the glossies.

The latest is Olivia Wilde in Glamour who is seen openly breast feeding (in a couture dress) her naked son while they sit in a diner booth. Now, I'm not saying anything against Olivia as a mom. I'm sure she's great. She seems pretty grounded. In fact this is probably the most I will say on her in this entire piece. 

What I will say is that the picture's portrayal of a completely unrealistic experience of motherhood is dizzying. I know magazines are supposed to be offering a form of escapism, but these moments are are becoming the expectation and not the exception, and this isn't the only over glammed mommy moments we are bombarded by.

I feel 2 different ways about it:
1) Its great that people are finally more relaxed about the motherhood. 

I am thrilled that the often forgotten, often taken for granted position of mom is having a moment in the spotlight. Motherhood is a beautiful and forever life altering experience and moms deserve some glitter and glamour for all they do! I am not currently a mom, but the vast majority of my personal heroes are. There are few selfless and resourceful people as moms.

2) It's awful that motherhood is becoming overly glamorized. 

When people expect you, as a pregnant woman, to give birth, snap back to your pre-baby body without even the slightest stretch mark, to get full nights of sleep, do mommy and me yoga in matching outfits with never less than a peaceful perfect moment, there is something wrong.

Things like breast feeding, luxury diaper bags, and pre baby bodies get obsessed over while the real issues like "am I doing what is needed for my baby?" get forgotten. 

On the subject of boobie feeding: What if you can't breast feed, or in my own personal case, don't want to? What if your baby won't take to you? What if you've tried, but it's just not working, for you or your kid? Is it such a sin to, God forbid, bottle feed? Does that make you a bad mom? Should the breast feeding baby nazis come and take your kid from you to raise on their boobie milking farm while you get mommy shamed across social media?

Charlotte Alter of TIME said about the Wilde interview, "It’s worth noting that it’s much easier to breastfeed if you’re a well-paid actress, but much harder for working moms in low-income jobs to get clean places to pump milk and the time off work to do it." Here here for a realistic perspective point.

But is the problem deeper than just the breast feeding? Elisa Albert, also of TIME says "The problem is that everyone wants to be an authority on how women’s bodies are used, and it doesn’t take much more than a cursory glance at history to see what ridiculously repetitious, needless harm has come from that." Everyone has an opinion on how to do it, meaning there must be multiple ways of being a mom, probably as many as there are mommies. And that should be okay.

In a perfect Pinterest princess society, it's hard to be Melanie Misstep. It's hard to admit when you're overwhelmed and under rested. Its hard to give up on trying to nurse, even when it's the right thing for both you and your baby. It's so hard to go back to work or school and have to hand this small person who, up until this moment was connected to you, to a caretaker and turn to go try and make a living when all you can think about is getting back to that tiny life that is the biggest thing in your world.

I applaud the real moms; the ones who wake up (whether the sun is up or not) to tend to the cries to these small and fragile beings they have been gifted with; the ones who do what's best for their kid, even if it means going against what all the fashion mags and the over glamorizations of motherhood currently say; the ones who are in constant and consistent sacrifice attending classes, kissing boo-boos, fighting night terrors, and boldly facing the intense criticism (and competition) our society attempts to slather upon them. Whether you're out working or staying at home, I applaud you.

Motherhood is sacred. It's a gift. Being able to create, grow, and maintain this little person's life, that is a privelege, and it should be treated as a treasure, not a trend.