Mothers Matter: putting the mother back in mothering


This is the 2302nd post that I’ve written on this blog and if there’s been one consistent theme over the past years it has been this: Mothers Matter!

I’ve written about baby-friendly this and baby-centered that, but I’ve rarely come across anything that is explicitly mother-friendly or mother-centered. That’s not an accident. In the 30 plus years I’ve been a parent, mothering has changed from caring for children to curating them.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Mothers aren’t incubators or milk dispensers; they’re people who matter.[/pullquote]

Children are viewed as objects to be acted upon, shaped and molded. The actual child takes second place to the future adult that is purportedly being created, an adult with specific middle to upper middle classes achievements: smart, talented, and ready to enter the economic competition of adulthood at a high level.

The conceit motivating this type of mothering is that women can only be successful mothers if they lose themselves. Their pain doesn’t count; their suffering doesn’t count; their time doesn’t count. Mothers and children have been suffering as a result.

But mothers DO matter.

That’s why I’ve created a new Facebook group, Mothers Matter, as a place for women to support other women in navigating mothering the way that works best for them. I hope it will provide an opportunity to share their hopes, fears, tips and experiences. I hope it will be a place of support, not judgment. What worked for you and what didn’t? Who helped you and who didn’t? How did you cope with childbirth, breastfeeding and parenting or how didn’t you cope? What kind of support do you need and how can we provide it?

Mothers aren’t merely incubators requiring strict supervision of every habit and every bite they eat; they are grown women capable of making health decisions for themselves and entitled to accurate information with which to do so.

How did you navigate pregnancy? How did you handle the judgment and the nosiness?

Mothers aren’t merely packaging to be torn apart in order to get to the child inside. How women give birth matters. Their pain matters and it should be abolished if they wish. Their sexual function and continence matter. They should not be subjected to traumatic forceps deliveries in order to reach some arbitrary C-section rate target. Their safety is paramount and they should not be pressured to risk their lives attempting vaginal birth after C-section or homebirth in order to avoid spurious risks to their babies’ microbiome and enact a romantic (and ahistoric) ideal of birth.

What did you expect from birth and what did you get? What do you wish you had known beforehand?

Mothers aren’t milk dispensers. The benefits of breastfeeding in industrialized countries are trivial and it is up to women to weigh them against the right to control their own bodies, not up to activists intent on creating the breastfeeding version of the Handmaiden’s Tale.

Do you breastfeed or bottlefeed? Are you happy with your choice? How did you handle the pressure that you felt?

Mothers aren’t blankies or binkies or lovies to be glued to a child’s body 24/7/365. They are separate people with independent lives and while they sacrifice much for their children, exactly what they sacrifice and how they do it is up to them, not parenting “experts.”

Do you sleep in a family bed or only with a partner? Do you “wear” your baby or is that something that doesn’t work for either of you? Did you return to work or decide to stay home? Are you happy with your decision?

The group will be open to the public, but only those who join will be able to post their stories. Anyone will be able to comment to offer support or suggestions.

Mothers matter. It’s time to put the mother back in mothering. Please join us!