Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Myth of the SuperMom

I never imagined that the career driven woman I once was would be saying the following words: next to Motherhood, the rest is a distraction.

My cousin, her Russian-Israeli husband and their seven month old daughter came to visit yesterday; as they live in California these days, it was quite a rare treat. It felt wonderful to have another new mother of a baby girl in the same room, to compare notes and share advice. And of course it was sheer pleasure to watch Raphaela and their daughter Lia "play" together and speak what I call Pebbles-Talk, as much as infants can be said to interact. (As in baby girl Pebbles from the television cartoon, the Flintstones.)

At one point, my cousin, who is head of the Hillel at Stanford University, asked me if I planned on breast feeding exclusively, once I went back to work full time. Having been asked that question many times in the last three months, I enthusiastically replied, "Absolutely!" My cousin sighed, and said that she had tried the breast feeding/pumping/working plan, and that once Lia got to six months, something had to give. Now Lia receives bottles instead of the breast, and doesn't look any worse for it.

I am often accused by random Israeli women of naivete and First Child Syndrome, if I believe that the breast feeding can continue as I intend.

We both expressed the sentiment that no matter how intelligent, motivated or organized, a modern woman cannot achieve excellence in all aspects of her life, especially when a baby comes into the picture. The Super Mom Myth has pushed many a woman - single or married - to sleepless nights and over-scheduled days, and in the end, it is most likely the woman and her family who suffer the consequences. Having attended Barnard College, where women roar the loudest and must definitely conquer the world, I still have come to the conclusion that there must be priorities in my life.

I choose Raphaela, over Chiropractic and my professional aspirations. She is my long-term project, and I am happy and secure in the statement that I cannot have it all, and that is OK.

1 comment:

Amy Charles said...

Well, that's just dumb. Plenty of women in the US pump and work for longer than 6 months, and most of them don't have the luxury of setting their own rules at work. Of course, they're also not taking care of multiple children plus an Israeli husband.

My daughter was mostly formula-fed, and she's fine. But if your supply is good and you can do it? Sure, why wouldn't you? No worries about where the powder's coming from, no extra expense.

And if you're a little nuts about your daughter because she's your first and only and it's all new? I fail to see the crime. Enjoy.