Our Motherhood Problem: A Letter to My Girls

My darling girls,

I hope by the time you become mothers [if you choose that path], things will be different.

I hope you don’t have to defend your choice to breastfeed in public, to bottle feed from day one, stay at home, or go back to work after your babies are born.

We have a big problem in this country. Well, maybe we have a lot of problems, but that’s a post for another day.

Motherhood is one of them.

Every choice a mother makes is scrutinized.

She’s expected to be a super-Pinterest-organic-stay-at-home-ladder-climbing-lean-in lady who demands to not be judged, yet spends her day judging the choices of others. Sometimes, I think people get so muddled down that they forget that motherhood is essential to continuing the human race.

GirlsWe can’t even ask to have a break for a few hours after major surgery or the hardest, most physically challenging hours of our lives without being accused of being selfish, not accepting the consequences of our own choices, or being shamed.

Formula is poison in the eyes of many. Confession? At one time, part of me thought that too. Then I had a brush with death right after you were born and relied on it to hold you over until I was well again. I changed my mind that day, and I feel terrible for being so pretentious for so long. It gave you life, just as it has for millions of babies before you. Don’t make that first assumption like I did.

It’s not enough to give your baby breast milk anymore, no matter the means. A new study will scrutinize the lack of bonding women that exclusively pump or feed their children bottled breast milk while they’re away will have with their children.

We are either expected to stay home and care for our children or get back to work immediately. There is no in between. Our country has no mandatory paid maternity leave policies, and women are forced to return to work before many caregivers will accept their babies. Yet, if staying home is the only option for a mom because the price of childcare in this country is too high for someone to afford, we judge them for having no drive or not having a spouse with a high paying career.

You have to do all of it alone because women are independent, and our feminist foremothers didn’t work so hard to have us say we could just ask for or hire help. But if you can’t follow all of the supposed safety rules, then you shouldn’t be doing it alone, and why don’t you just find someone to help you? 

Are you confused yet? I am.

We’re all navigating these waters of modern motherhood the same way -confused, tired, wanting to do the right thing. I hope you do the right thing … for you.

IMG_1618I hope that you aren’t judged for your choices.

I hope that you find your village like we did.

I hope you find your voice.

I hope you’ll learn that every person matters.

I hope your heart is full of kindness, and your hands are willing to help.

I hope you know that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness.

I hope you love your babies as much as I love you, no matter how they come to be your babies.

Just like you and your brother were to me, they’ll be the best thing you ever did. That’s what matters in the grand scheme of mommy-ing.

All of the rest doesn’t: whether you work or stay home, bottle or breastfeed, or anything else that people use to pit mothers against each other. I hope you see that.

Most of all, I hope that I’ll be the one to show you.

Lindsay
Lindsay is a native New Orleanian, displaced only by her years at Mississippi State, where she earned a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries and a minor in English. She came home shortly after Katrina, to work as a zookeeper and be a part of the rebuilding of her beloved city. She dragged her husband Drake, a Tennessee native, along with her. Their son Bennett joined the family in 2010, and in 2014 they welcomed identical twin girls, Genevieve and Kellen Clair. She now works full time as an Environmental Scientist and part-time as NOM’s resident Jill of All Trades. Powered by espresso, cake, and craft beer, her happy place is on a beach or in the woods. Need to identify a plant, tree, or animal? Lindsay’s a wealth of random knowledge. She loves to cook and sprinkle a little glitter on everything.

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