A Little Pregnant wrote a memorable post about parenting after infertility months ago, and I have often thought about it since. The question she posed was, does getting through IF make you a better parent?
I think I put a lot more pressure on myself to be the best parent I can be, because I DID go through so much to have my children. At the same time, I feel more empathy for parents in general. Whereas at one time I would look down at those who fed their kids chicken nuggets and pasta with butter and parmesan, now I realize that some kids (like mine) are just really picky and mothers will attempt to feed them food they formerly wouldn’t get near just to keep their weight up. Whereas once I would look down on those that allowed their children to watch TV, I now realize that letting my kids watch “Caillou” for 20 minutes is not going to cause ADHD. Right?!?
At the same time, we are living in a culture where being a mother is under quite possibly the greatest scrutiny of all time. Getting pregnant, having babies then raising them to the best of our ability seem to be of such importance that doing anything else is regarded as foreign. It’s like Eisenhower is back in office, or something. Being an infertile is particularly isolating, of course.
Once I crossed the line to becoming a parent, I found that criticism is all around, and sides are chosen: are you going to be a scary attachment parenting mommy warrior, a gung-ho Tiger Mom, or a throw-back 50s SAHM, crafting and cooking away? Maybe I’m wrong, but all around me there seems to be a gigantic pedestal being built for the GREATEST MOTHER and almost no one is able to climb those high stairs.
Perhaps that’s why there appears to be a new approach: Abandonment Parenting. Check out this new article. I found it offensive in every way, especially when the one mother who had two kids said she never wanted them in the first place. As an infertile who would love to have more children and can’t and who has lots of wonderful friends struggling to get pregnant or adopt, that statement made me stabby.
But the article also made me wonder: is the overarching pressure to be a perfect mother leading some women to just throw up their hands and give up? One of the mothers who bailed was a big proponent of the attachment parenting philosophy.
I’d just like to raise a white flag and call a truce and tell each mother that, regardless of how you got there, what you are doing is extremely difficult and worthy and wonderful and frustrating, all at the same time. And so, we should have each other’s backs, not tear out each other’s throats. Maybe if we were all a little bit more supportive of each other, we would all be better mothers.