That’s the assertion made by Elisabeth Badlinter in her new book, discussed in this article. The idea being that it’s a bit of a waste for a parent to sacrifice every part of their life for a child, given that we live for an average of 85 years and childhood is temporary. Her theory is that women get their life back by any means necessary – formula, childcare, whatever it takes – and get back to enjoying their life with a drink and a cigarette. And while I do enjoy both drinking and smoking, I do not concur with Ms Badlinter.
If you feel resentful about a sacrifice, it’s not a sacrifice. If you are continually listing all the things you are missing out on, you are not making a sacrifice. You’ve just made a bad choice, but it’s not a sacrifice. To my mind, a sacrifice is giving up something freely and willingly for something far more important.
If you don’t want your life to change, then don’t have children. Because they will change your life, regardless of whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle-feed, co-sleep or not, or use childcare instead of staying at home.
I have to say, I didn’t really relate to this article at all. Although Megan did and she raises some really interesting points here. And what Badlinter is saying is not that outlandish really. A whole swag of experts encourage women to maintain their relationship with their partner as the primary relationship, children are temporary etc. etc. And while I absolutely agree that doing things for yourself is important, and doing things with your partner just as a couple is also important, I tend to see things the other way around. Childhood IS temporary, so why would I want to miss out on it? They’re babies for such a tiny amount of time really so why outsource them and miss out on all the fun stuff?
I like being at home. If I had a choice between my pre-baby recreational activities and what we do now. I’d choose what we do now. I loved breastfeeding her. And if anything it made my life easier, rather than harder. I didn’t have to get out of bed in the middle of the night (hello co-sleeping), I didn’t have to sterlise anything and I didn’t have to take bottles and formula with us when we left the house. Both me and my husband loved co-sleeping with her. Sometimes I still go in and get her from her room so she can sleep with us. I like that our life has changed in a really big way. My husband and I have more quality time as a family because we are both not working full-time. It’s a better lifestyle for us this way.
As Megan said in her article there is plenty of time during the day for other interests – and there’s never been a block of time that I couldn’t fill up with some project or other. Whether it be working, house renovation, writing, reorganising, cooking or crocheting. But I also knew early on that I wasn’t going to feel like I was missing something by staying at home with her. Not everyone is the same of course, which is the benefit of all of those hard-won choices we now have.
And I can’t help feeling like the ideas put forward by Badlinter are antiquated. There are more choices than simply staying at home or being a high-powered career woman. You can also work from home, stay at home, work outside the home part-time, work full-time out of the home or any manner of different options. Motherhood isn’t oppressing women, the idea that we all have to fit nicely into the box of ‘earth mother’ or ‘career woman’ might be.