I read this quote the other day and I can’t get it out of my mind:
One thing I do know is that the more conservative women of my acquaintance don’t feel the same pressure to breast-feed until their kids are talking or to keep their kids by their side at all times, even bedtime. It seems that if you live in social circles where it’s simply expected that you curtail your professional ambitions and do most of the domestic work so as to avoid emasculating your husband, the psychic need to create elaborate parenting theories to achieve the same result—woman at home, tied to the kitchen—simply vanishes. Strange coincidence, indeed.
It’s from an article on Slate by Amanda Marcotte about a review of a book called The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women. Sort of a new, Feminine Mystique. I won’t get started on the idea of a review of a book review.
The quote is snarky and reductive, but is it untrue?
It does fit my personal experience. The most devoted to attachment-parenting moms I know have also been weirdly defensive about their decisions to be SAHMs. They were fairly young moms and former “rebel” girls who would frequently say things like “No one in high school would believe that I’m a stay at home mom” and “Being a mom is the most revolutionary thing you can do.”
Two of them also wound up cheating on their husbands. I’m not suggesting that co-sleeping with your baby leads to co-sleeping with people other than your husband. But, it has always seemed to me that the people who went most overboard with their parenting were also the least happy.
I always assumed that it was a cause and effect thing: If you walked around holding a 12 pound baby all day and whipped your boob out to nurse on demand for three years, you’d be unhappy, too. But what if it’s the other way around? What if being unsure or ambivalent about your choices as a mom leads you to making extreme choices?
Is attachment parenting something mothers choose when they feel like they need a reason to want to be with their kids? Is it something that women who are ambivalent about their parenting choices cling to? Is it a way that women who never thought they would accept oppression allow themselves to give in to the necessary oppression of being a mom?
I honestly don’t know. I’m just fascinated by this idea. Thoughts?