Thursday, November 24, 2011
"It is what it is"
It is what it is...it is what it is...I think I am going to vomit. I am so sick of being told, "it is what it is." Why is everyone saying this slogan? It's like a broken record, spinning in my head, like the song that you hate that just keeps playing around in your mind. I am being mind blasted by Hollywood. I heard it on some TV show and decided right then and there that I hated the show. If I ever say this to someone, I will know that I am being controlled by the force...beam me up Scotty....
And this is the nature of making a good slogan, good PR. Catchy phrase, simplistic reasoning, and get some Hollywood actors or actresses to say it and say it and say it. Then we all believe it. Ya hear something often enough you think you thought of it and that you are so brilliant. Yeah...sure. We creatures of this planet are the Great Imitators. My first born at 3 weeks old was imitating her grandma who was making a clicking sound with her tongue. I couldn't believe it. My baby was positively, absolutely brilliant. She could imitate the mouth movements of her grandma. Slowly, after more children, I began to realize that babies/children imitate the adults around them. It's the why of how your child learns her/his first swear word and repeats it and repeats it. They heard it from you. Of course you tell your family and friends my sweet child learned that word from that rotten delinquent 4 year-old kid from down the street. Yes, of course, who probably learned it from some adult. Although nowadays they probably learned those wonderful expletive deleted words from your TV set or computer.
So where is this discussion heading? The wonderful new slogan created by breastfeeding advocates that breastfeeding is not free. We are told that breastfeeding costs us: in energy to produce milk, time, and in what we give up-opportunities lost. (James Akre, author of The Problem with Breastfeeding) What? This slogan totally invalidates my experience and probably the experience of other mothers (because I don't think I am the only person who thinks this way). My initial reason for breastfeeding was because it was free, because I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Exclusive breastfeeding helped the family budget in so many ways. It did not mean that I devalued it because it was free. It was the buried treasure because the longer I breastfeed my baby the more I valued it. I believe it is like the farmer who treasures his seeds. The seeds he/she has saved from harvest to harvest. Freely given by nature but life-giving to the farmer and to a nation.
The need to say that breastfeeding is not free is a sophisticated intellectual argument in support of capitalism, of worth being measured in dollars and cents only. The argument spins on the belief that time is money and that taking time for mothering babies forces women to miss employment opportunities. It's about what we value in our society. In the past decades of American life, our values have changed. I think of the bumper sticker on some cars a few years ago, "He who dies with the most toys wins." Bingo, life in the USA. Of course now that we are in an economic Depression (yes I know the government says Recession), the bumper sticker seems rather sad because we have lost all our toys. No, I guess we "all" haven't lost our toys.
So now we are to believe that breastfeeding is not free. And I imagine if we repeat it many times, in many places in our media-driven society that we will also believe it. What is the reality? Breastfeeding is like the plant that freely gives it seeds to the farmer. It is free for the taking. The farmer treasures and saves those seeds. Only now has our corrupted economic times created a system in which the farmer must pay for his "terminated" seeds that do not reproduce. Farmers and farming is being destroyed by this patent pending seed system created by Monsanto. Likewise, if we, women, embrace that breastfeeding is not free, we will be accepting a system in which we will always be dependent on the ebb and flow of a market system.
Why do we devalue what is free? My family had a motto that I still use, "if its free, its for me." I think we have come to believe, "it is what it is." That our society will never change. That mothers with babies will continue to have to go back to employment at 6 weeks postpartum. That value is only how much we are monetarily worth, our educational titles, our "new" clothes. We accept our caste system that professionals, the experts are at the top of the value pyramid which works its way down to white collar then blue collar workers, to the pit of despair the unemployed. And somehow its strikes me as absurd. As absurd as believing that, "It is what it is."
Copyright 2011 Valerie W. McClain