'Time' Reveals How Career Culture Has Failed New Moms
In a lengthy cover story, Time magazine studies the myths behind the Mommy Wars. It’s a worthy read for anyone truly interested in why so many women on social media seem to be obsessed with breastfeeding and C-section rates. But in their rush to end the judgment and shaming “flying off the fingers” of online moms, Time fails to address the real cause of the crisis. “Mothers will do anything,” the author writes. What she fails to observe is that today’s mothers often don’t know what to do. As a result, they’re turning to the wrong sources for guidance and getting nothing but guilt in the process.
The sad fact is that women are so culturally alienated from motherhood that they approach the topic much like a college class or career change. Often these women are in their 30s before they give birth. Generally white and upper-middle-class, they have excellent credentials to put on a resume but know next to nothing about getting elbow-deep in bodily fluids at midnight on a Tuesday. Their solution is to read endless amounts of books and join countless online mom communities in search of advice and support.
In other words, these women (who comprise the core demographic involved in the Mommy Wars) create the infamous “they”: “They” say I need to breastfeed; “they” say I must co-sleep for the first year; “they” say I need to hand-mash my own organic baby food. Suddenly the nameless, faceless “they” are responsible for everything from mom guilt to the rise in postpartum depression and anxiety. Or, are they?
Fear is the current running strong underneath all that mom guilt and the kind of new-mom anxiety written about in Time. Specifically the fear of failing your child. While TED Talk experts and former first ladies love extolling the virtues of failure, no one – and I mean no one – sees virtue in failing the most vulnerable of human lives. Especially not educated, careered women who’ve already been brainwashed into believing they’ll never break the mythical glass ceiling hanging over their heads. So, they approach childbirth and rearing the way they approached their educations and careers: With a solid plan the author at Time calls “The Goddess Myth.” Natural birth, breastfeeding, co-sleeping -- all the things “they” recommend.
If only babies and bodies followed syllabi and job descriptions.
One woman interviewed had a perfectly laid out home birth plan, complete with tub and midwife, that got shot to hell along with her desire to exclusively breastfeed for two – that’s right, two – years. (The average mom doesn’t make it to the 6-month mark.) This mom was so distraught she “went dark” on her Facebook mom groups, feeling judged for not having met the mark. She commented, "I prepared so much for the birth, but the one thing that's not talked about as much is how much support we need, and how vulnerable we are afterward.”