Saturday, 3 April 2010

It's war!

What a week it's been for us mothers. We're being judged from all corners.

It began with the French philosopher Elisabeth Badinter telling us that having babies has oppressed women. In an interview with the Times she said: "The baby has become a tyrant despite himself,".

According to Badinter the pressure to breastfeed, make your own baby food and use washable nappies has disempowered women.

In her new book Le Conflit, La Femme et La Mère (The Conflict, The Woman and The Mother), She sees these as chains around your neck and reckons if we ditched the boob for the bottle, feed your dearest with jars and just used disposables, we'd be a lot more liberated.

She goes onto say that as women we're torn because we're the L'Oreal generation ('Because we're worth it) and then have to ditch all that 'me, me, me' and give ourselves over to the baby, therefore losing our identities.

Her views are pretty radical, but she does touch on some real issues. I've done all the things she says oppresses us, but you have to find a balance and do what is best for you and your family.

Can't breastfeed and have really really tried (I mean past the cracked nipple stage)? Then give your baby formula.

Diligently made every meal from Annabel Karmel's recipe book, only for baby to spit it out time after time? Then jars have their place. You know they cost more in the long term, but if it saves you endless feeding battles and wastage, then they're Ok.

Washable nappies take time and effort. I know, I tried them. To be fair, it wasn't that hard. But I was so exhausted and fed up with the daily grind of baby, I just couldn't hack it.

But does this make me a loser? I don't know, but what I do know is most mums are out there trying to do their best for their kids. And that seems to be the problem.

Journalist Lucy Cavendish reckons it's war out there when it comes to the mummy stakes. It seems that the knives are out and us women are our own worse enemy.

She says constant competition is partly to blame. There's also the stay-at-home mums vs working mums, older vs younger mums, childfree women vs mothers. It's tough times. Are you prepared for battle?

I've been both a working mum and stay-at-home mum (currently on maternity leave) and both are hard for different reasons, but I think the whole argument (a very Western and middle class one) is futile. There's no point in berating each other. I know that, and you know that, so why is this debate still raging?

The landscape of motherhood has changed completely over the decades - a whole industry has been created for You and Your Child. And looking at the books I have purchased over the years, I've definitely bought into it. Instinct. Where's that then? Oh, there's probably a book about the subject.

Modern parenting has become a total minefield, but putting on your war paint and armour and fighting other women isn't going to help change things. A whole change in societal attitudes is needed but I can't see that happening any time soon.


  1. so true and very thought provoking. Each to their own.We should be supporting each other not judging or competing!

  2. Why can't we just let people make their own decisions for what works best for them? I mean using disposable diapers isn't child abuse or anything close to it, so live and let live. I have way too much to do, worry about, and strive for to spend time on such rot as judging other moms. I definantly think this type of judgement has escalated in that last 15 years. I'm thankful I had my first almost 17 years ago and my third 13 years ago. I think I missed some of this for sure.

  3. Great post. We must all be completely bonkers I reckon! Let's hope common sense prevails and at the end of the day, we each just do our own best for our own children. Congrats on your MADs nomination btw!

  4. Interesting perspectives on motherhood. Mums face a lot of judgement...