I'VE HAD IT

Isn't parenting difficult enough without this ridiculous judgement on how you feed your kid?  More than a few bloggers have addressed the latest study regarding breastfeeding vs. formula feeding.  Personally, I like this take on it, if you are blissfully in the dark.  And, here's what I have to say about it.

Yes, I planned on breastfeeding if I ever got pregnant, but that didn't happen and we started down the adoption path.  Baby X was 2 weeks old when we were placed with him and had never breastfed, which would have made it that much harder to transition, and I was a brand-new parent.  I didn't need any more brand-new parent-stress heaped upon me.  Sure, you can adoptive breastfeed, but I've only met 2 adoptive moms who have done it, and they had to supplement as almost everyone does with induced lactation.  You can also buy breastmilk from a bank, but it costs an arm and a leg (or two legs and a kidney).

My experience notwithstanding, it drives me bananas that I've had friends struggle to breastfeed, who tried all kinds of techniques and drugs and therapies in order to produce more milk and it was an uphill battle.  I know that many women want the attachment experience that comes with breastfeeding, but I also wonder if some of the push to keep going when it's defeating and exhausting and stressful is partially from the enormous sense of guilt that it was a so-called failure.  I argue that keeping your child healthy is not a failure.  Pushing yourself to breastfeed until you have a physical or emotional breakdown is not healthy for anyone in your family.

I am firmly in the camp of "Do whatever makes sense to you", and I leave it at that.  For me, it was kangaroo care, formula feeding, making baby food, and (horrors) relying on jarred baby food some of the time.  For some, it's exclusively breastfeeding until 2 or 3 or 4 or....  For others it's breastfeeding for 2 months and then transitioning to formula because pumping in a work truck when you work as a landscaper is a nightmare.  For others it's a combination of breastfeeding and bottle so that Dad can get some attachment time.

As I write this, I'm realizing that the breastfeeding argument is the same as the work/stay at home argument.  They are the same argument, just different factors.  And instead of women being supportive of one another, we turn catty and bitchy and mean if one of us chooses to do something different.  Why is that?

Why is our self-worth so tied up in the idea that what I do has to be right?

Let's talk about moving up in the workplace.  Lately, there's been more reporting on women who climb the ladders to the top.  The entire time that I was being raised, I was told that I can do whatever I want, I can be whatever I want, I can lead a company.  And then I get out in the work world and find that it's not that easy.  If I tell a construction superintendent he's doing it wrong, I'm a mean bitch.  I used to go on construction sites to do inspections and watch the guys roll their eyes because there was a 5'3" GIRL there to tell them what to do.  I left a company because they told me to my face that I would never be able to work part-time if I wanted to.  I left another company because I knew they weren't paying me nearly enough money for the work that I did.  In fact, when I passed my P.E. exam, they forgot to promote me until I brought it up.  The guy who passed the same exam was immediately promoted and given what he asked for.  When I asked for a measly $3,000 more a year to get my salary up to "average" instead of "below average", they said no.  That's when I decided to look for another job.

The point is, there are roadblocks every step of the way for a woman, put there by men who feel threatened, and put there by other women.  Women slam the women who make CEO of Fortune 500 companies.  Why?  What do we know about how they live their lives, or choose to parent, if they are parents? We get enough pushback from those old graybeards in our fields, and we don't need more from our own sex.  

You know, if you don't like the way a woman is running a company or you don't like her politics, then fine, criticize those aspects of her work.  Women who are assertive and leaders are called bossy.  A man is never called bossy.  A man is a "born leader".  A woman is "bossy".  I see it all the time in my male-dominated field.  Until we as women start supporting each other, and supporting our choices, we will always be stuck.  We can't turn the tide until we are ok with someone making a choice that is different from ours.

Here's what I would love to see as opposed to what I see now:
  • Let women formula feed without making a big deal over it
  • Let women breastfeed in public without making a big deal over it
  • Celebrate these women 
  • Celebrate women who go into traditionally male fields
  • Celebrate women who stay at home
  • Celebrate women who are doing the best they can by working and parenting
  • Ban Bossy  Check out the campaign.

p.s.  This is my 500th post.  Go Me!