When a child comes into the world, there are so many decisions to make. The decisions you make for your child hold so much more weight than previous decisions because a baby relies on their parent completely. As a parent, not only do you have to deal with the consequences of your choices, but so does your baby. Nobody knows how they will parent until they become parents.
Everyone likes to think their child will never watch TV, only breastfeed, eat organic, all-natural, free-range baby food, poop in cloth diapers and learn three languages before the age of three. This usually isn’t the reality.
After going through the hellish ordeal of childbirth or a cesarean section, a mother spends the next few weeks or months running on hardly any sleep to care for her child. Everyone is so consumed with questioning the way someone parents that they don’t see all the things a mother does to care for her child. In the U.S., going through childbirth costs thousands of dollars and requires a lot of pain and discomfort.
Most mothers care for their children who are incapable of caring for themselves, no matter how exhausting it is. Breastfeeding or bottle feeding? Cloth or disposable diapers? Go back to work after a week, six months or a year?
In the eyes of society and other mothers, our culture makes it so no mother can get right. If she’s bottle feeding, she doesn’t want her baby to have the best nutrition.While it may be tempting to assume you understand a mother’s circumstances, making these assumptions doesn’t benefit anyone. Mothers decide to bottle feed for multiple reasons. They may be incapable of breastfeeding. They may need to go back to work. They may supplement with formula because their body isn’t producing enough milk. Formula is also a complete nutritional equivalent to breast milk. Mothers can also make the decision to breastfeed if they wish. If a baby is fed, that should be considered a victory.
If a mom needs to go back to work, it could be because her family cannot thrive off of a single income, as so many families can’t now with the low minimum wage many of us receive, or maybe she just wants to go back to work. A mother isn’t at fault for living her life the way she wants or raising her child the way she wants. Most mothers are doing everything they can to be the best parent they know how to be, but much of our social policy is doing these mothers a disservice. Some days, it is a victory if a person can just keep a child clean and fed without losing their mind.
Mothers are just as much autonomous human beings, capable of making their own decisions, as anybody else. While mothers are being undervalued at home and out in public, many of them are in need of resources and support in caring for children. Families do not make enough money to afford the things their children need or childcare. Mothers are expected to care for their babies and pay for the resources they need at the same time. They are expected to do double the work with the same amount of time. They are shamed if they can only do one or the other.
No parent has a child and intends to be the worst parent possible. Parents go into parenthood wanting to be the best. They have to balance jobs, social lives, self care and other obligations with being a parent. Many mothers cannot do it all by themselves. Mothers deserve significantly more recognition with doing all that they do to get up in the morning and get through the day, especially considering the lack of appreciation and help they get from the society and government that benefits from their labor.
I hope society eventually thinks more about all mothers, and tries to support the things they accomplish everyday. I hope our nation learns to appreciate what all mothers do for the betterment of society as a whole in trying to raise their children to be good people. I hope our government learns to support what mothers do for their children. I hope we all begin to demand more of our social systems in how they support mothers.