I have written about mommy wars before. I swear I have. I cannot find the post to add a link, which means that I gave it some really cute quipy title that doesn't mean anything to me. So, you can look for it or take my word. I wrote about it. I think they are bad.
There are so many things that mother's fight about. So very many things. Co-sleeping, mattress wrapping, babywearing, CIO, SAHM vs. WAFH mom. The list goes on and on. Mostly, these debates do not concern me. I used to bulletin board and when I was a member of various mommy communities, I was constantly attacked for something. Once, I participated in a game of sorts on one of my bulletin boards. There was a list of questions: will you mattress wrap, will you babywear, etc. etc. Each participant told their number of yes answers and then their "friends" guessed at which questions they had a yes for. I thought it was good harmless fun. Until someone posted in response to my 4 post that she couldn't believe that there were 4 things I would do for the health and safety of my baby. That was when I realized how biased the "game" was, and really how biased the entire forum was.
But, now. I don't know. I usually don't get my feathers ruffled. I have given up the bulletin board community entirely and now when I need commiseration or advice from other moms, I look to the blogosphere, Facebook and Twitter. I find people to be much less insulting in these forums, although I don't quite understand why.
The exception to this is feeding. I still get uptight about the feeding debate. One of my favorite bloggers, Her Bad Mother, posted today about breastfeeding advocacy. The post is largely about "lactivists" trying to fight for respect for breastfeeding mothers without demonizing bottle feeding mothers. I have an answer, but I don't think she'll like it.
You can't. You can't preach over and over and louder and louder that "breast is best," without implying that formula is somehow less than the best a mother can do. You can't fill the world with billboards and pro-breastfeeding rhetoric without telling those of us who made a different choice that we are wrong. Not different, but wrong.
I have a friend, whose daughter is a few years younger than I am. She breastfed and tells about how she had to fight in the 1970's. How no one understood, no one supported her. Her mother thought she was crazy. I fought the same fight.
Okay, my mother didn't think I was crazy, but she was it. My doctors thought I was lazy, my in-laws thought I was weak, my friends thought I was insane. Everyone, everwhere told me I was wrong. That I was making the wrong choice. Strangers told me that I was feeding my child poison. I had a number of women tell me that formula should only be available by prescription. My boss, told me that I would regret the decision not to breastfeed for the rest of my life. I haven't started regretting it yet, and I've made the same choice for two children, so let's just assume she is wrong. I do, however, regret continuing to work for a judgemental twit like her.
My point, here, is that I'm not sure who "lactivist" are fighting. I don't see it. I don't see the other side of the battlefield. I see mothers nursing all the time, in public, without fear or shame. Okay, I don't see bare breasts, but really, I don't think the battle is about not using a blankie. I see the entire baby industry telling you to breastfeed. Pumps, nipple shields, nipple cream, containers to store and even freeze breastmilk, bottle systems built to attach to your pump. And I see formula companies refusing to give out coupons because it "encourages" formula feeding. I see books that come from the formula industry that spend 40 pages on breastfeeding and 2 pages on formula feeding. I see a lack of thoughtful information on comparing formulas, which formula is the best, how to mix and store formula.
I see mothers who formula feed called child abusers and murderers. I see people attacking the mothers of SIDS babies and telling them that it was probably the formula that caused it. I see hatred and lies and hurt and anguish.
And I see breastfeeding mothers called hippies. That's it. The absolute worst of what I have seen. Hippies.
Now, maybe I don't see it. Maybe it's there and I'm not sensitive enough to see it while nursing my own wounds. Maybe it's somewhere else and not in my town. Maybe it's all kept very hush, hush. I'm not denying the existance of this anti-breast movement. I just don't see it.
And, so, to me, the war seems one-sided. Okay, women should be guaranteed a place to pump in the workplace. I support that. Although, I support the need for paid sick leave and easy access to healthcare as "mothers' issues" more. I see where there are still a handfull of crazies babbling something about "sexualizing" infants. I get that. But, I really feel that it's few and far between. And most of us know better.
I am almost out of formula (praise the Lord!) and as Maren is my last baby, I hope to put this all behind me in two short months. But I have spent years now, walking on eggshells, trying desperately not to offend my breastfeeding sisters. Who have not treated me the same way. They have talked about formula feeding like it was abusive and have talked about breastfeeding like it is the only intelligent choice. Formula feeding has been linked in their rhetoric to the stupid, the uneducated, the poor, the lazy, and the weak-willed.
I quit telling people the reasons behind my choice to formula feed years ago, because I was tired of being attacked. I was tired of the name calling and the mean implications. Now I just say "personal reasons" and people may make some snide remarks, but they mostly drop it.
And you know what, I have happy healthy kids who are well-fed, neither over or under weight, intelligent and amazing. I bonded with my kids just fine, thankyouverymuch.
I made a choice. A choice that I am happy with to this day. And I support women's rights everywhere to be happy with their parenting choices. To not have to defend a choice or get worn down listening to the name-calling. If people are making you feel guilty or ashamed of breastfeeding, then they are idiots. And if you decide to combat those idiots by screaming from the rooftops about how breastfeeding is the only right choice, then you are an idiot too.
Motherhood is hard. I will say that again, Motherhood is hard. We have a million battles and only sleepless nights to prepare us for them. We should all be on the same side. The side of ensuring that babies are fed, without casting judgement on what they are fed. The side of ending actual child abuse and not confusing that fight by calling alternate choices abuse. The side of preparing our kids to run the world and choose our rest homes.