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Too Much Time on her Hands

Some people have too much time on their hands.
This is a pretty broad statement that includes a lot of people, but today it’s pointed at Judith Warner of the New York Times. She wrote the sort of article that people write when they want to get other people incensed. Not, I will point out, the sort of article that gets people incensed because it brings up valid points, but the sort of article that pretends to argue a valid point but does it in a way meant to inflame passions.
In other words, the sort of article that sells newspapers.
Ok, you can read the full piece, or this capsule summary: Judith was “told” by feminists that she “had to” pump breastmilk for her babies, or it would result in disaster for their IQ and emotional health. Then, oh horrors!, she decides to think for herself and decides that she’s had enough of it and her baby can take a darn bottle.
Or something like that.
I’ve already written about what I think feminism is (go read it if you want). It’s all about choice: allowing women the freedom to make choices about how they run their lives, rather than railroading them into lifestyles where they are unhappy and take their unhappiness out on others (most often, their children).
So Ms. Warner feels somehow that feminists are telling her she’s a bad mother because she doesn’t like using a breastpump? Huh?
OK, I will admit my bias. Although I am personally for all women and all families making the choices that suit their lifestyles and their health, I would have thought myself insane if I’d given my babies over to someone else to nurture while I sat at a keyboard all day. I’d sat at a keyboard all day for many years before that, and I was ready to relive the slow pace, the incredibly quick passage of time of childhood.
I did, however, have a breast pump, and like Judith Warner, my relationship with it wasn’t sunny. Moms were coming to our newborns group talking about how they’d pumped ten ounces after feeding the baby, and I was looking at their feminine endowments and thinking, geez Mom, couldn’t you have given me a chance?
But I didn’t blame them for my feelings. Instead, I took the lessons I’d learned from many years of thinking about problems and looked at the problem logically: I was basically a stay-at-home mom, but I also knew that I wanted my freedom. And freedom, in my case, ended up being formula.
My first child was a picky eater as a baby (though now he’s a champ). It took him five days to take to the breast, and then he never wanted a bottle. But we found that he’d take a sippy cup at about five months, and I was theoretically free to go off sometimes and have my body back for an evening.
Once I had my second, I was basically over the idea that she had any choice in the matter. Oh, yeah, she screamed the first couple of evenings I went back to my Thursday evening singing commitment, but when she realized it was non-negotiable, she took a bottle from her daddy. And when I realized it really wasn’t that important, we filled the bottle with formula. Good-bye breast pump.
If you want to read the really intelligent writing (on both sides of the issue) read the commentaries by her readers. Warner basically misses the point: We know that people can make it through life without being breastfed as infants (fig. 1, my husband), being exclusively breastfed as infants (fig. 2, my son and I) or some combination of the two (fig. 3, my daughter). We all make our choices. It would be better for all of us to live in a verdant green land of plenty where we got plenty of sunshine, exercise, and stimulating conversation.
However…
In the real world, where things are so difficult for women, do we really need these accusations? Or shouldn’t people like Ms. Warner be happy that she had the chance to try the breastpump? My mom didn’t have the chance, or the choice. I had both, and I made my choice, and it was nobody’s fault.
So there. I don’t have too much time on my hands, so that’s all for now!

Posted in Parenting.


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