While I myself have never had children, many of my friends and family have. I do not consider myself particularly “child-friendly” and while I do consider family very important, newborns are the bane of my existence. They cry too much, they get runny noses and dirty diapers, they require most of your attention to make sure they aren’t teething on a thumb tack or other deadly object.
However, I must admit, that as much as I dislike children, I really dislike the way mothers are treated in our current society. For instance, last year, a friend of mine found out on her fortieth birthday, that she was expecting. Happy birthday, I suppose. She and her husband were thrilled. Yet, as they talked about their expected bundle of joy, they were constantly being given facts and stats about the chances of having a child with mental and physical disabilities because of her age. Because she was forty, everyone thought they had a right to give their opinions on whether she should be having a child at her age or not. I sort of figured it was none of anyone else’s business, but I was in the minority.
After she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, the opinions changed. Yes, Stitch was cute as a button, but she had decided to breastfeed and that was a problem. It was fine when done in her own home, possibly tucked away in a closet so that their daughter, who is… I don’t know, old enough to go to school, talk a lot, and read chapter books… couldn’t see this intimate, primal act in progress. And god forbid, she drape a blanket over her shoulder and breast feed in a semi-public place like a parked car at a dart tournament.
We seem to hold mothers to impossible standards. Feeding an infant formula is frowned upon, but breastfeeding is too… So, I guess we should let all infants starve to death. That seems the only solution. For a while, she used a backpack-type thingy to help carry him around (one of those contraptions that strap over the chest and back and holds the baby), but that was wrong, she wasn’t giving the child enough “holding time,” it would stunt his growth. Yet, if she held him all the time, she was “spoiling him.” At almost a year, Stitch has started on solid, mushy foods, which also seems wrong because it isn’t Gerber Grow-Ups, but at the same time, Gerber Grow-ups are full of artificial stuff that people deem bad for us. She reads to him; so is she encouraging the growth of his mind or trying to force him to talk too early? She lets his sister hold him; irresponsible parenting or encouraging a bond between siblings?
And it isn’t just her. Another of my friends recently announced she was pregnant, it will be her third, all under 8 years of age… One person went on to express concern about how a third baby would stunt the educational development of the first two children and didn’t they realize they should space their kids apart more to foster less sibling rivalry and allow for parent/child time? I suppose these things can’t be possible with children close in age and parents in their early thirties. If she decides to breastfeed, someone is liable to call child services to report the endangerment of the other two children, after all, their daughter is nearly 8 and their son is somewhere between 3-5 years old. We’d hate for them to have to go through therapy due to their mother’s decision to breastfeed the third child (she did breastfeed the first two).
In a strange side note, I watched Final Destination 3 yesterday. I had never seen it on a movie channel and was kind of surprised when the Ashleys went topless into the tanning booth. There was much boob jiggling as they rocked out in the tanning booths of death. Let me remind you, this is a movie aimed at teens as all the characters are in high school, preparing for graduation. Yet, it is less reprehensible to have nude boob jiggling in a movie aimed at teens, than to cover up and breastfeed a child in a public place, because someone might see something.
I feel as if we have been lobotomized as a society…