I’m A Fake Mom
Posted by Jamie C. Baker
Thank you, TIME Magazine, for putting a spotlight on attachment parenting. Some principals of attachment parenting, and I’m not about to list them all, include breastfeeding and often extending the feeding for longer than typical parents would, co-sleeping with the child, no childcare for more than 20 hours per week for children younger than 30 months, avoiding feeding schedules, and never spanking or yelling. Obviously the TIME cover made the general public focus mainly on the breastfeeding piece of attachment parenting, asking all us other women if we are “mom enough” to do what this mom did.
I am the mother of a soon to be seven year old boy and I am proud to say that I’m not even half the woman the TIME mom is. I didn’t breastfeed at all due to a vitamin deficiency that forced me to supplement on formula, prompting me to decide to skip breastfeeding altogether and stick with Enfamil. I did scheduled feedings, ensuring my son got the right amount of ounces per feeding and panicking when he seemed to spit up everything he just drank. I slept in my room and he slept in his, and he was in daycare at 18 months old when I quit my nighttime bartending job and got a “real” office job to earn better money. My son is a happy and healthy kid, incredibly intelligent, active and thriving, and other than his inability to keep his hands to himself in kindergarten, I have zero complaints about his development or behavior. I love the kid and he knows it.
I’m happy with my decision to skip breastfeeding and I plan to skip it if/when my husband and I have a baby, although I WILL be pumping it out and bottling it. I’m very weirded out by the entire breast feeding process and I want nothing to do with it whatsoever. It’s a personal thing and I don’t think it makes me any less of a mom to feel this way. Perhaps my husband will change my mind, but I don’t see how holding my baby to my breast will make me bond deeper with him or her. I bonded with my son the minute I saw his little purple face and heard his cry. We share little looks and inside jokes that I’m sure make no sense and I have amazing memories from his time growing and learning. My feeding method did nothing to help or hinder that; our bond comes from the fact that I love the hell out of that kid and I would do anything in this world for him.
Another thing that I am not mom enough to do is arrange a co-sleeping arrangement with my child and future children. My son, as an infant, would often nap on my bed or with me on the couch during the day, but when it was time for me to sleep (or attempt to) we went to our separate rooms. My bedroom is a private place at night, meant for my husband and myself, and eventually our pup dog who thinks he’s people. I saw no need to have a bassinette in the bedroom, nor do I see a reason to have sleepover parties as a way to help my child’s development and self esteem. I want my child to learn that his room is his place for privacy, as mine is for myself and my husband, and that he deserves that privacy and should enjoy it as he sees fit. I don’t want to raise a clingy codependent child by gluing him to my side and not even allowing him alone time to rest.
In a perfect and ideal world, we wouldn’t need childcare. Sadly, I have these annoying things called bills that refuse to go away, so I need a steady job with good hours and high pay. This means my son and future babies will need to be in childcare at an early age. Unless someone out there would like to gift me with a few million to pad my account, I can’t afford to keep my kids home until they reach three, or until kindergarten. My husband can’t afford to stay at home at this point in time either. Assuming his novel takes off as I hope, he can definitely do so in the future and keep our boy and hypothetical future kids out of daycares, but for us and for many couples, it’s not realistic and simply doesn’t make financial sense. I would love to be able to save up a nice chunk of cash to give to my son after graduating high school for college, an apartment, or wherever life decides to take him, but I can’t do that if I don’t work and I can’t work without daycare.
Am I less of a mom because I disagree with attachment parenting and I don’t follow their rules and guidelines? I don’t know. I was mom enough to fight through a pregnancy solo, holding two jobs and struggling every step of the way from the positive test to the drive home from the hospital. I was mom enough to remove him from living situations that were convenient for me but harmful to him. I was mom enough to keep him healthy and consult doctors immediately at an early age when he had breathing issues (that are gone now). I was mom enough to be picky about daycares and do what I had to do to ensure he was in a good one and was happy. I was mom enough to teach him right from wrong and feed him knowledge, making him the smarty pants he is today. I was mom enough to now have a kid who loves me to pieces and refuses to leave me at his school without a hug and a kiss. Maybe I’m not mom enough for the TIME Magazine mom and maybe I’m not mom enough for you ladies who breast feed until your kid boards the bus to kindergarten, but I’m mom enough for my kid and that’s all that matters.