I guess “feminism” means different things to different people. If it means freedom of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without regard to sex or gender, then none of us should feel like the needs of the feminism movement should dictate our choices. It means that condemning a woman for going to work or staying at home are equally preposterous, and equally harmful to the cause of feminism. It means that bottlefeeding and breastfeeding are both banners of equality and freedom and a woman can know that the less of a hard time she’s given for her parenting choices, the greater the progress of feminism.
The arrival of gender equality should mean that criticizing mothering practices is as rude as arguing with someone about how they decorate their homes.
It is true that how we raise our children is of more interest to society than how we decorate our homes. The results of the former affect us all. But those who feel strongly about how children should be treated can take solace when considering that just as children learn values from their parents’ actions and choices, so can our friends, relatives, and even strangers learn values from observing us. How happy our children are, how fulfilled we seem. If our family interactions inspire others to strive for a similar level of love, compassion, communication and understanding, then we are affecting the families around us more than we ever could by warnings or advice.
This was supposed to be about babywearing, so now I’ll come to it. Babywearing has many benefits for mothers and babies. A mother need not babywear because she thinks she ought to. I hope that mothers will give it a try because it can help make mothering easier. A happy baby makes mothering easier. A baby who cries less, makes mothering easier. Having hands free to feed herself or brush her teeth makes mothering easier. And if it doesn’t make your life easier, or if you don’t want to give it a try, that doesn’t reflect on the quality of your mothering. It just means that you’re not exactly the same as me. It would be kind of creepy if you were.
And for those who think that nursing and babywearing are bad for women, keeps them home when they want to be out, keeps them out of the workforce when they wish they were pursuing careers, to those people I say:
1. Stop assuming that your values and interests are mine! There are as many different ideas of the perfect life as there are human beings. Some are glad to get out of the workforce. Some feel privileged and excited at the chance to raise children full time. Some wish they could stay home but work out of necessity, and some are very happily nursing, babywearing and working a fulltime job.
2. Nursing and babywearing both make it easier to get out of the house, whether it’s every day as a stay at home mom, or action-packed weekends as a working mum. With no bottles to prepare and to keep cold or warm up, and no overstuffed bags to carry them around in, going out is a breeze. No need to be home when baby gets hungry, the perfect food is always ready at the perfect temperature and anywhere is a good place to feed baby.
Babywearing means you don’t have to pack, unload, or set up a stroller, and you don’t need space in your car. You don’t have to change your plans to accommodate the giant wheeled beast—babywearing can go anywhere that it’s safe for babies to go. You don’t have to schedule around naptime, since baby can nap contentedly in the middle of a festival when wrapped up. There is less stress from keeping your toddler in sight or out of the street, and you have less to fear from tantrums or accidents when you keep your baby or child wrapped against you.
As far as the pursuit of happiness goes, I assert that babywearing makes mothering easier in that it helps fulfill babies’ needs more easily, making for an environment in which a mother has more freedom to fulfill her own needs, and partake in the activities that make her happy. Feminist babywearers Unite!