This week I came across an article that greatly irked me. As the story goes, the New Zealand government produced an anti-smoking ad that featured a father playing with his children while explaining why he doesn’t smoke. One of the scenes had a shot of him feeding his baby a bottle, and if the photo is any indication, he looks like a man who is head-over-heels for his child.
You’re probably wondering why this enrages me; after all, what’s hotter than a rugby playing, non-smoking, totally involved dad playing with his children and talking in a sexy accent to boot?
Enter the breastfeeding advocates and, if the article is correct, the La Leche League. Apparently they raised such a fuss over the shot that New Zealand government pulled that scene from the ad.
I love nursing my babies. I could site the countless benefits of breastfeeding, ranging from convenience to cost effectiveness to healthier for baby to preventing breast cancer for mom. I could preach it to the world that I think there is nothing better than feeding your child something that was designed exactly for your baby. But I won’t. Alright, I guess I kinda did. But, like everything else in life, breastfeeding is never black and white. Technically it is white, but you know what I mean.
By all accounts and purposes, I am a “breastfeeding advocate.” But I don’t think that gives me a right to shove my titty religion down anyone’s throat. Just like I don’t want you to make my ears bleed with talk of religion or politics, I’m sure you don’t want to hear me drone on about the pros of breastfeeding. And don’t let these elitists fool you – there are some definite cons to breastfeeding, but there’s no way they would breathe word of them while they are on their quest for boobie domination.
Apparently the father in the ad, a New Zealand rugby player named Piri Weepu had a difficult time coming to terms with the aftermath of this video. And rightfully so. For any of you that missed science class that day, men can’t produce milk to feed their offspring. So the next natural thing would be for him to bottle feed the baby. I mean, if the ad had him trying to nurse his child, I could see why such a stink was raised. That would be wrong and creepy on several levels. But the guy was just trying to be a good father, for heaven’s sake. Where is the fault in that?
And everyone’s situation is so different. I have friends who tried to breastfeed and had such a hard time that it was easier to bottle feed. I know people who are shy and uncomfortable with the thought of nursing and went straight to bottle feeding. I can think of some examples of women who seemed to have a hard time producing enough milk to keep their baby satiated and supplemented with formula to produce a much more contented baby. I know some people who nurse their babies until they are past two years old. I have walked through the store and encountered a woman with her high beam out and her baby sucking away contentedly, oblivious to the fact that mommy was showing her coconuts to everyone in the produce section.
These arguments are not isolated to the breastfeeding debate. I like to read blogs and articles, and I’m not sure if people are more bold when hiding behind the anonymity of their computers, but I am shocked at how many mothers are downright mean and rude. Everywhere I read, there are raging word wars between moms who stay home and moms who work, breastfeeders and bottle feeders, mothers who immunize their children and those who don’t, parents who let their children run around half naked in the rain and those who keep their offspring shrink-wrapped, those who cloth-diaper their children and those who use disposables. Most of these women get downright nasty.
I’m not sure if they truly feel this strongly that they are the queens of the castle and the rest of us are the dirty terrible parents or if they are trying to justify their behaviour and convince themselves that they really are good mothers, but I am saddened and appalled by how mean some of these mommies are. The real question shouldn’t be who is right and who is wrong (because let’s face it – there are no right or wrong answers) but who is nice and kind and teaches their children to respect the opinions of others and to appreciate the diversity of the world.
So the stay-at-home moms preach the fact that their kids grow up with a parent who is always there and the working moms argue their check book and/or sanity require them to work; the breastfeeders argue how close it makes them feel to their babies and the bottle feeders counter that they can get help feeding the baby; the mothers who immunize are trying to protect their children from disease and the mothers who don’t are trying to protect their children from the possibility of Autism, no matter how remote the link; the free spirits let their children learn through natural consequences and the over-protective parents worry about their children’s safety; the cloth diaper mamas say it’s better for the environment and their budget and the disposable users say the ease and convenience is worth the extra price and strain on Mother Earth.
If I had my way, this is what my life would look like: I would stay home with the kids because I love hanging out with them and being there for them. I would have a full time maid to cook and clean so that I could spend my time gallivanting around town, going to the park, the library, the zoo, and of course play dates where I could have adult conversation. On the days where I want to tape my children to the wall and run away from the incessant chaos, I would be able to waltz out the door to a job I love where I could head home at any time if Junior threw up on his Mary Poppins-type nanny or if I decided I missed my darlings and wanted to take them to the ice cream shop. Perhaps after ice cream we would go climb a wood pile and laugh when a log dislodged we went tumbling down the side, narrowly missing a rusty nail (even though it wouldn’t matter if we stepped on it, there’s no such thing as Tetanus in my utopia). I would go home to change Baby into an environmentally-friendly diaper that was free of charge and never had to be washed or tossed. Scratch that – my kids would be toiled trained from Day 1. Or better yet, they wouldn’t need to use the bathroom. Ever. And I wouldn’t have to wipe another smelly bum. Ever.
So shame on you, breastfeeding elitists. You may have think you won the battle, but you’re just creating an unnecessary war.