There are no bars here.

Recently I came across an article by Erica Jong that is getting a less than positive reaction.

The article is entitled Mother Madness and the tagline reads

Spend every moment with your child? Make your own baby food and use cloth diapers? Erica Jong wonders how motherhood became such a prison for modern women.

Hm. Well, I’m spending every moment with three children. I don’t make baby food, but the baby does eat the food I make. And yes, there are cloth nappies in the bathroom.

But I’m not feeling imprisoned. Not by motherhood, not by attachment parenting, not by anyone else’s expectations. You see, I went into this willingly, eyes open, and that’s no prison.

Nearly 11 years ago, when I had Big, there were no cloth nappies in the house. When she weaned at 4 months she weaned on to baby food in jars, and she was at nursery while I was at work. And that was a far more restricted environment, though I’d still hesitate to describe it even as house arrest. But the thing that limited me were my understanding of society’s, and my, expectations. I daresay that I didn’t look imprisoned at all – I was a good modern woman and feminist, charging up the career ladder and having it all.

I expected that I would work, that I would have a career, that I would raise my child well – home education was on the cards before she was even born, so I thought we would use nursery for a couple of years and then drop out at the relevant age. And that, to some extent is what we did. Looking back though, it wasn’t good for her, and it wasn’t good for me. Fortunately (though it didn’t seem all that fortunate at the time) I was offered redundancy when pregnant with Small, so I was at home for the next couple of years with them both.

Cloth nappies made an entrance. And I tried for home made baby purees.

I was still trying too hard.

Attachment parenting is only hard if you make it hard by expecting more of yourself than you can do. It’s easier in many ways than the alternatives. Breastfeeding, if you get past any tough bits, is an awful lot easier than having to faff about with bottles, especially when you are out and about. It’s there, it’s on tap, it’s the right temperature and the right consistency. Baby wearing is a whole lot easier than wrestling a pushchair in and out of shops, and baby is happier for it. Cloth nappies are no more difficult than disposables given that there are clothes that need washing – cloth in my experience tends to mean fewer explosion disasters so fewer baby clothes to wash.

So I’m sorry, Erica, but I’m not feeling imprisoned by my attachment practices. Actually, I’m feeling rather liberated by them. I know that we are lucky atm, in that we’re getting by without me working, but I’m looking into ways of working around the children anyway. Because I want to. Because I do set some value on myself as an income generator, and that’s probably the last vestige of society’s expectations lingering on. But also because it’s good for the children to be involved in every part of our family life, working together to build an income, grow our own food and look after each other.

I have to admit, there are parts of this life that would be easier if we did have a tribe of similarly minded families close around us. And to some extent it seemed to me that is what Erica was saying in the original article. It would be great to occasionally be able to pop out at the drop of a hat, and have a neighbour about to keep an eye on the children for example. But having to plan excursions ahead is a price I willingly pay, and I don’t think I’ve given up my feminist principles to live this life. I’d be happy to debate it with Erica too, if anyone knows where she can be found 🙂

About Jax Blunt

I'm the original user, Jax Blunt I've been blogging for 14 years, give or take, and if you want to know me, read me :)

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  1. Parenting is hard fullstop, without other woman feeling the need to quation our choices and decisions. Bah humbug
    .-= TheMadHouse´s last blog ..Possibly the Best Fireworks in the World Ever =-.

  2. I very much doubt you could just pop out whenever you felt like it, AP or not, unless of course you have a live in nanny, and how many of us COULD have one of those, even if we WANTED one?

    I hate all these negative opinions on any form of parenting. I wish people would be more positive about what they are doing, rather than heap guilt etc on ‘the other side’.

    (I do agree with you, rather than Erica Jong, btw 😉 )
    .-= Swiss Clare´s last blog ..I wish I lived nearer Winterthur =-.

  3. Again we completely agree.
    I feel completely liberated by being with my kids, by living like a ‘hippy’ as some of my relatives say 😀 I feel liberated that i have not been forced by society to childmind, nursery, school, so that i have the ‘privilege’ to carry on working while i have kids. Like in any sense of the word missing out on them, and having someone else bring them up is any privilege. I feel privileged that i have known of such means as baby wearing, cloth nappies, and feeding the child what i eat.
    Everyday these children bring me to tears of laughter, no work place could give me the satisfaction i get. If i worked, i would feel imprisoned. I haven’t read the article, i tend not to read to much about being in my way of life, i get angry by it often, cause i find so many have hidden government messages to make mums work and have strangers bring up their children (conspiracy i tell you LOL) My view on feminism is to embrace being feminine, and everything the female mind and body has evolved to be, it’s defiantly not a worker and part time mum. Okay we can do it, we are amazing women, but it doesn’t mean we should. Don’t get me wrong, i got my self a good profession when i left school, i had a career, and i had ideas. But i chose to bring these children in the world, so it is my duty to give them all. On a plus note tho, being at home with them has opened new doors for me, and allowed me discover new interests, and i am now at the point that i will never go back to my profession…… Oh my gosh, what a rant!!! Thank you for you post, as you can see it’s a subject dear to me.

  4. I get so annoyed when people feel they have the right to judge how we bring up our children, I put an old post the other day called I Don’t care. I went into motherhood with my eyes wide open though I didn’t realise how hard it would actually be. I love being at home with BG all day and even know it wasn’t the original plan not to go back to work at all and so glad I didn’t. Even before I had BG I could go anywhere I wanted at a drop of a I had a job to stop me doing that!
    .-= New Mummy´s last blog ..Friday Song – Get Down Tonight =-.

  5. Hmmm. Interesting. It seems she’s protesting a bit much and from her description of her life has a mother, it sounds like she could have taken her daughter with her, if she used a sling 🙂

    I’ve never thought of attachment parenting as something anyone is pressured into doing, rather it seems to be something that some people choose to do and some people (like me) take bits of to suit them. I think, generally, there’s more pressure the other way and that people who use any of the traditionally attachment parenting methods tend to get a hard time – breastfeeding past 6 months is still sneered upon by many; baby-led weaning is seen as endangering our children… etc.
    .-= Tasha Goddard´s last blog ..Coming up for air- How I stopped screaming for a day =-.

  6. Totally agree with you, attachment parenting can be very liberating. Originally, it was not my intention to be an attachment parent (I didn’t even know that it existed), but it was what ended up working for me allowing me to relax, have more fun with my kids and get some SLEEP!!!

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