Will The Real Mediocre Mom Please Stand Up
When I decided to start this site, for some reason it did not occur to me that other moms would have the same clever idea. (I don’t know why; women are pretty smart). So when I glanced around the internet and found about a half-dozen moms with sites professing to be mediocre, I panicked. How can I set myself apart? At a bare minimum, it begs the question. How am I better than these other moms? My answer is that I am not. If there is any one over-riding hurdle standing in the way of women’s societal progress, it is our unkindness and judgment of other women. So I am just going to say that these other mothers, like myself, have been clever enough to realize that we are spinning our wheels making pinterest-perfect parenting experiences and are brave enough to stand up to and push back against this societal pressure.
Of course, that leaves me with the problem of how to distinguish myself in a crowded room. My response therefore is that in my realm of mediocrity, I see myself not simply as a mediocre mom but as a superhero, willing to take on the many tasks of parenting (with a dose of reality and a grain of salt). I want to be the one to lead us in a battle cry for change. That is, I want to effectuate change.
I guess I would like to believe that somewhere, somehow, I can make a difference. This feeling has grown exponentially in the last year, particularly because of my third son’s birth almost a year ago. I will spare you all of the nitty-gritty details, but the bottom line is that I became extremely sick after my son’s birth with post-partum preeclampsia. (Most people know that you can get preeclampsia during pregnancy but very few realize that this complication can occur up to six weeks after birth; left untreated, it can result it seizures and death). Because it is so unknown, approximately 80% of the maternal deaths that occur from preeclampsia happen from those who get it post-partum.
My path to the diagnosis of post-partum preeclampsia was a series of missteps and mistakes by the doctor and the hospital. I truly believe that I am only alive because a close relative of mine is a physician and recognized the symptoms. Of course I believe that the hospital and the doctor had a lack of knowledge of the condition which contributed to the missed diagnosis. But what I specifically attribute to the diagnosis failure was the culture of birth that has evolved in our medical facilities-one that puts the mother last.
In case you haven’t birthed a baby lately, many of the hospitals are in a race to declare themselves “baby friendly”, in line with the Baby Friendly Health Initiative (“BFHI”), a seemingly innocuous way to increase breastfeeding rates world-wide. My problem with the BFHI is that it is not really “baby-friendly” inasmuch as it is “breastfeeding friendly”, and that it is not friendly to the mother at all. In a frantic effort to keep their breastfeeding rates high in step with this initiative (which is tied to financial gain), the hospitals work overtime at making things more difficult for moms, from refusing formula, to eliminating care packages (because they contain formula, “gasp”!), and to eliminating well-baby nurseries.
I intend to go into detail about the ridiculousness of these policies in future articles, but suffice it to say that when the over-riding goal is to make the mother breastfeed, a lot of the care falls by the wayside. This certainly happened to me. From the beginning, I had informed the hospital that I had planned on formula feeding. When it became clear that I was not changing my mind, I was tossed to the side like a lost cause. I was put in a room near the entrance and away from the nurses’ station and other patients. (The hospital was half-empty). I don’t think they wanted me influencing their patients who were on the fence about breastfeeding. Because of this, security was lax. My sister remarked that she and her husband had walked right in without anyone even noticing or caring. The nurses were pretty much non-existent, and I had to chase them down to get pain medication even though I just had a c-section. I had complaints that I later attributed to the preeclampsia, and they may have as well, if they had bothered to listen. But I was brushed off and pushed out of the hospital as soon as possible (get the formula feeder out!), only to be re-hospitalized less than a week later with an IV and severely ill.
Needless to say, the entire experience left me depressed. And terribly angry. I am angry that it happened to me, of course, but I am angrier that it happened, at least in part, due to a policy that reduces mothers (the patient!), to little more than a feeding vessel for the baby. I am not saying that breastfeeding isn’t a worthy goal. I am saying that the policy of pursuing this result at all costs is not productive either.
If you are still with me at this point, you probably are wondering what any of this has to do with being mediocre mom. I suppose I am just giving you my backstory, and my impetus for this site. I truly believe that the policies that led to my near-fatal result – that there is one perfect parenting goal – need to be addressed and changed. Women are not one-size-fits-all. Not in breastfeeding, not in birthing, and not in parenting. I sincerely believe that the push to breastfeed at all costs is similar to, and just as detrimental as, other societal pressures to birth “naturally”, feed our kids “organically”, and push our kids both intellectually and in activities. They are a billion tentacles that all come from the same head, reducing women to one desirable stereotype.
In sum, if there is any difference in my stance at all, it is because I am not ashamed to admit what others would perceive as flaws. I am not ashamed that I had a c-section. I am not ashamed that I formula fed all of my children. I am not ashamed that I sometimes feed them McDonald’s and sometimes let them watch way too much television on a Saturday. I am not ashamed that I don’t have my children in a myriad of activities. I am not ashamed. I am perfectly happy being mediocre, and you can too. If enough of us make our voices heard, maybe we can make this difference. So here’s to all of us and our mediocrity! And, as my theme song states: “It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a woman with no shame….it’s mediocre mom!” #celebratemediocrity
I am mediocre mom!
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