Pampers are Worth Every Penny…
When it comes to parenting in the 21st century, we have much to be thankful for. The Wall Street Journal‘s Michelle Gerdes articulates the difficulties associated with being a mother in the era of all things “green.” A current best seller in France entitled “Le Conflit: la femme et la mère” (“Conflict: The Woman and the Mother”) outlines the trends that fostered the green mom movement. The three largest trends discussed in the book are:
– Ecology and a longing to return to “simpler” times
– Behavioral science
– The rise of “essentialist” feminism
The book’s author, Elisabeth Badinter, notes that these trends can create guilt in women who cannot live up to the modern standards of being a mom. Over the last forty years, trends shifted to produce a stereotype of the ideal mom making her children’s food from scratch, using disposable diapers, rejecting hormones/ drugs, and essentially reverting back to motherhood as it may have been 100 years ago. Wasn’t there a reason we sought to eliminate the burden of everyday household tasks? Mothers were bound to the home because maintaining a house and raising children literally demanded constant attention. How exactly did this version of parenting start to come back into style?
Ms. Badinter truly hits the nail on the head when it comes to this issue: there is no “right” or “wrong” way to raise a family. Being completely “green,” for lack of a better word, becomes a quality of life (and health) issue for some parents. Dominating paradigms (like those of the essentialist feminism movement) in recent years should not be employed as weapons against mothers who simply cannot comply with the movement’s standards. It is the very luxuries of pre-made baby food and diapers that permit women to return to careers and pursue activities outside the household.
There is nothing wrong with baking cookies from scratch, gardening, and switching from paper towels to dish towels when cleaning up kitchen messes. Thanks to modern baby products however, moms enjoy freedoms that simply did not exist fifty years ago. To me, this sounds much more important then ensuring a child is raised in a completely “natural” environment. Kudos to Ms. Badinter for exploring this important issue and encouraging moms to do what is truly best for them, whatever that may be.