Category Archives: Motherhood

Breastfeeding in Public

When I brought our one child into the universe, I pushed hard for 12 hours, but he must have been holding on for dear life, because I ended up having a C-section.  I was a bit bummed that I couldn’t just pop him out in 20 minutes like the 22 year old down the hall – humphff!

They had to give me morphine so, of course, I was out like a light until morning.  The first minute my eyes were open, there was the nurse with my little miracle.  She reminded me that I had signed up for breastfeeding, and…well, here she was and he was hungry.

In my sad little stupor, I mumbled “I haven’t been able to do anything right yet…I don’t know if I can do this.”  She said it was easy, and then showed me how to hold him.  The side of his cheek touched my breast, his eyes perked up (typical guy!), and he went right on, and all the pain of the night before just evaporated and I fell in love.  Imagine – my own body feeding my own child.  Seriously cool!

All of this is not idle reminiscing on my part.  It is a lead-in to the story that there is a new Rhode Island law that allows a woman to breastfeed or bottle-feed her child in any place open to the public.  This new law permits a woman to allege a violation of her civil rights if she is prevented from breastfeeding in public.

Now, breastfeeding is very important, not only for the mommy/child bond, but to pass on the mother’s immune factors to the child for the first 6 months, saving everybody time, money, and discomfort with infants getting sick.  One might also suggest that it is the responsibility of the mommy to breastfeed for the health of her child, but there is more to the story.

Dr. Laura Viehmann, a Breastfeeding Coordinator for the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics said  “Too often, mothers are asked to stop breastfeeding, to move to a private location, or to cover themselves up when they breastfeed at a playground, at the airport, in a restaurant, or in other public places.”

This is where the typical separation of rights vs. responsibilities occurs.  I breastfed my son whenever he was hungry, wherever I was…but I never imposed this lovely experience on strangers at another restaurant table, or passers-by in the mall, or a pew in a house of worship.  I would either go to a private place for the peaceful setting, or I would take a thin diaper and cover us both up…kind of like “tenting” us. 

While at that time, my breast was a source of life fluids for my son, as modestly endowed as I am, the breast is still a source of sexual stimulation to half the population.  Perhaps women who breastfeed uncovered in public with men around should be charged with sexual harassment?  While I’m kidding, of course, I don’t think my point is a minor one.

People are always “crumbing” about their privacy, and  yet they’re willing to show their underwear with pants that barely stay up, or skirts that barely stay down.  My point is that while breastfeeding is a sacred, wonderful, natural part of mothering, it deserves respect, and we hardly show respect for something by parading it in front of strangers.

I was a breastfeeding woman, and I always showed respect for the situational expectations of others.  I also never brought our son to a fancy, adult restaurant when he was an unpredictably screaming baby.  To me, breastfeeding is a sacred bonding moment between mother and child – like the passionate act that brought that child into being is between husband and wife.  These sacred moments are private, and should be kept that way with a simple draped cloth.

Exposing yourself in full view of potentially unwilling onlookers is less about bonding and feeding, and more about exhibitionism or disrespect for others, or an attitude that nobody else in the world matters – like that Sixties mantra of “if you don’t like it, it’s YOUR problem.”  No matter how you look at it, special things are put on pedestals and treated as special. 

Stay-at-Home Moms Need Praise

My newest book, In Praise of Stay-At-Home Moms, is being released in two weeks. One of the questions I’m asked most often is why it’s so important for kids to have a mom at home, especially when the conventional wisdom suggests that “quality time” is as good as “quantity time.” Not so.

Stay-at-Home Moms Need Praise!

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Read transcript here.

When Are Women Responsible?

I can’t even guess how many times I’ve read about some so-called “mother” leaving her kids in cars to die in the heat, either because she “forgot” she had a child, or she was busy with partying, and then the sympathy goes to….the mother!

The same thing applies to women and their abusive “significant others” (choke).  Recently, in North Carolina, a mother left her child in the care of a gang member.  She knew he was a gang member when she made him her boyfriend-of-the- month.  The self-declared Bloods gang member beat her 2-year-old son to death, with a combination of 41 blows, which ultimately burst his liver and caused his brain to bleed.

According to the report in The News & Observer, the murderer will spend the rest of his life in jail, and there’s no mention of the mother being held on any charges whatsoever:  not negligence, not child endangerment….nothing.

When informing me of this story, one of my listeners wrote:  “I am incensed that this woman was not fined or jailed as well.  I guess our society no longer expects moms to protect their innocent, helpless children.  No doubt, this is what the abortion mentality has done to us.”

I thought about her comment, and it holds water.  Mothers farm out their kids to daycare, nannies, and baby-sitters.  The “feminista” movement talks about women having power, yet treats women as helpless victims of sexual harassment when they get meaningless comments about their butts, and suggests that only men are responsible for domestic violence.

Power and responsibility are two sides of the same coin….or should be.  To leave a child with a known, self-acknowledged gang member should be considered a criminal act, because it clearly puts a child in harm’s way. 

As a woman and as a mother, I am shocked.

Motherhood: A College Student’s Singular View

I’m turning my blog today over to Sharen Cervantes, a sophomore at Occidental College, with excerpts from an article she wrote for her campus newspaper:

It’s a testament to the changing times that single motherhood is no longer a lamentable predicament, but a choice, something pre-meditated and embarked upon with pleasure.  An even bigger testament to the nature of the 21st century is the fact that more and more of these unwed mothers do not fit the archetype of the uneducated, hapless teenager.

According to a recent article in “The New York Times,” the number of college-educated women choosing to have children out of wedlock has increased by a staggering 145% since 1980, with most of the women in this pool of mature age (i.e., in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s).

Now, I support progress as much as the next person, and I’m especially supportive when it comes to women’s progress.  Up until a short time ago, women were bound to the household and familial unit, unable to aspire toward anything beyond domestic and childcare obligations….

Single motherhood, however, doesn’t strike me as progress.  While it may serve as testimony that the modern woman can single-handedly manage a household and act as a financial provider, it also denies the single-parent child something essential:  a father.  It’s hard to explain what it means to have or, or why not having one is significant.  The impact of a father’s absence ranges from the trivial…to the vital (forever wondering what a father could have brought to your life, for instance).  And there’s just something about having a second parental figure in the house to forget or disregard a punishment when Mom is away.  Things aren’t always this rosy, of course.  I’m enough of a cynic to realize that phenomena like divorce and negligent fathers make single motherhood almost more desirable than traditional husband/wife parenthood.  But shouldn’t the dual-parent model still be a goal?

I guess my biggest issue with single motherhood is its effect on a child’s psychology…..The issue here is not ability.  The issue here is efficacy.

What happens, for instance, when a single mother decides to play the inevitable dating game?  Does she introduce these men to her child?  It is even appropriate or conducive to an impressionable child to do so?  Not in my eyes.  It actually strikes me as rather selfish.  It is not in a child’s best interest to witness a slew of men (or even a handful) come into and out of his or her mother’s life.  It’s even less permissible for a child to witness men coming into and out of his or her own life, especially when there’s a strong chance of attachment on the child’s part…..Attachment then leads to affection, affection leads to love, and love leads to a sense of hurt and loss if and when Mom and “Mr. Potential” end things.

Is this fair?  No.  Does this promote a happy and healthy childhood experience?  No.  Is this type of situation inevitable and nearly universal?  Unfortunately, it is.  So, really, why the suddenly-escalating need to put children in this difficult position?  And what’s wrong with a little tradition?

Progress may be great, but so are old-fashioned values.  After all, isn’t it especially critical that we uphold traditional ideals like daily family dinners and family game nights in today’s high-tech, progress-driven world?  It seems to me that there are already too many conflicting interests to which the family must take a back seat, including work and financial anxiety.  The one point of stability in all this disunity and dysfunction is the mother/father/child dynamic.  So, I firmly believe that it should be maintained.

Say “No” to Day Orphanages

I’ve railed against day care for children for years, calling those centers “day orphanages,” which brings out the claws from those who disagree with me. I got an email recently from a child care worker who makes the case quite eloquently for raising your own kids and not leaving them in the hands of others.

Video: Say No to Day Orphanages

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Read transcript here.

Octuplet Mom Takes Visa and Master Card

It pains me to state the obvious.  I hate to remind people to ignore the unimportant.  I often find myself asking, why do people obsess about idiots who are doing the wrong thing?  But unfortunately the idiots seem not only to stick around, but the stupider they get, the more the media wants to talk about them.
And then they do something really dumb and I get really ticked off.
The octuplet lady… Let’s call her Ms. Mommy, because there is no Mr. Mommy in sight… is back in the news because, while she insists that she won’t take government money to help support her self-centered decision to have her own private herd of toddlers, she will take Mastercard and Visa — from YOU!
Yes — this mommy of 14 has launched a website soliciting donations to help her feed, diaper and toilet train these beautiful little gifts from God who, in reality, are now legally the chattel of the most narcissistic mother alive.  So, if you want to make sure they get their Gerber’s, you better pull out your wallet because begging for help from strangers appears to be this woman’s new career path.
Now, it would be nice if I could at least say that Ms. Mommy learned HTML programming so she could make her own website.  Then, at least, she would have a skill that she could use (at home) and make some legitimate coin while the kidlets are sleeping.  But no, Ms Mommy’s got some Hollywood public relations firm to design and put up the site, complete with links to PayPal in order to slurp your money faster. 
So is the money raised for the kidlets going to pay the PR firm for their web design?  Well, FoxNews says “The website was created by the Killeen Furtney Group, a Los Angeles-based public relations and marketing firm retained by the mother following the birth of her six boys and two girls. Her publicist, Joann Killeen, declined to indicate how much had been donated thus far, but stressed that her firm designed the website for free.”
Pro bono?  More like Pro Promo.  Joann Killeen was a bit more honest and forthcoming just a week ago when she acted like the mommy of the moment resembled a cash cow.  The Los Angeles Daily News reported on February 3rd:  “Ms. Mommy retained Los Angeles publicists Michael Furtney and Joann Killeen on Friday and since then, the agents said they had fielded dozens of interview requests and offers for book, film and television deals. But Killeen said this morning that offers have not yet been reviewed. Some media reports speculated that Ms. Mommy might be paid as much as $2 million for an interview. Killeen said today she believes people will be ‘very impressed’ when Ms. Mommy begins relating her tale, ‘and we will work with our client to decide what’s the best vehicle for her to tell the story.’”
And all I keep thinking about is the 14 little children who desperately need a safe, secure home in order for them to achieve the American Dream while their mommy is whipping them around in her own personal nightmare. 
Is there any good news here?  Well, apparently the Bimbo Mommy has decided no more kids.  In her maybe paid for, maybe not interview on The Today Show, she told Ann Curry the octuplets were a sign from God that she should stop having children. And according to the Associated Press, “she also said she’ll support her family on student loans until she finishes her master’s degree in a year or two and finds a job.”
Well, I support her decision to NOT have any more kids and I’m just waiting for the website where I can donate money to have Ms. Mommy’s tubes tied.

Disgusted with Octuplet Mom

I am writing this blog on Nadya Suleman, octuplet mom, under duress.  I was told that a significant number of you wished for my point of view or comments on this occurrence.  My answer was, “Do I really have to comment on the obvious?” 

I am disgusted with this woman for being educated in child developmental psychology and still intentionally robbing children of a dad (she had in-vitro fertilization with embryos from sperm donor) and the opportunity to get the kind of attention one out of fourteen children clearly won’t get.

I’m disgusted with the clinic and physicians who, knowing she already had six children and no husband or reasonable means of support (except for workman’s comp lawsuits), and frankly, must be somewhat emotionally troubled, still impregnated her with multiple embryos — more than the recommended number for a woman under the age of 35.

I’m disgusted with the media for making a big deal about these freak situations without proper judgment and criticism and for starting programs for “freebee” bailouts with charitable support.

I’m disgusted with Child Protective Services which I don’t think has even considered taking these children away from this self-avowed baby-mill and placing them up for adoption into two-parent households, with a married mom and dad.

Every Mother’s Day my psyche is assaulted with front page stories coast-to-coast about unwed mothers’ joy and glee and Mother-of-the-Year Awards to celebrity moms who clearly put their careers before their children (bless those who are “nannied!”).

So – this blog is in honor of and directed to the women who do it right: get married to good man who can support a family; wait until they’re settled and have the emotional where-with-all to sacrifice in order to receive the huge rewards of mothering their own children.

I’m sorry the media doesn’t care about you…but your husband, your children, Dr. Laura, and a society grateful for the wonderful human beings you raise do care about you.

Celebrity Teen Motherhood Hurts Kids

With all the hoopla surrounding celebrity minors who get pregnant – out of wedlock – everyone seems to forget or ignore the price that their children pay.  Obviously, a Jamie-Lynn Spears or a Bristol Palin has a source of financial and family support, but that situation is the exception and not the rule.  Glorifying teen motherhood and supporting it (think of John McCain with Bristol Palin’s “baby daddy” in a photo-op, for goodness sakes) does a gross disservice to the realities of the situations.

Babies need adult parents – a Mom and Dad, who are (preferably) married.  Or are babies just accessories to be called “cute,” and then passed on to the hired help?

A recent study by the Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy pegs the annual cost to taxpayers at almost $10 billion per year.  Spread that wealth!  Less than 40% of teen mothers earn a high school diploma, and their children are far, far more likely to go into foster care and eventually end up in prison than children born to even slightly older mothers, writes University of Delaware economist Saul Hoffman in Kids Having Kids:  Economic Costs and Social Consequences of Teen Pregnancy.

Linda Lausell Bryant, the Executive Director of Inwood House, a New York non-profit that assists teen mothers is frustrated by the racial issues involved.  The vast majority of girls are black or Hispanic.  “It’s a double standard.  If you’re a poor kid of color, it’s a bad thing.  If you’re affluent and white, it’s not so bad.”
She explained to the Associated Press that many of the girls served by Inwood House had already dropped out of high school before they got pregnant, and saw motherhood as a chance to add meaning to their lives, which may have been punctuated with abuse, abandonment and/or chaotic homes.  “It is a dream,” she says, “of raising a child the way they wish they’d been raised – being the kind of mother they never had. That’s the fantasy – it’s very powerful.”

Our celebration of teen pregnancies leads young girls in the wrong direction:  increasing poverty, despair, child abuse, abandonment, and even infanticide. Why am I one of the only voices in the media stating that what Bristol and Jamie-Lynn did was wrong?