August 1, 2006

Sorry, But The Daily Mail Hates Babies!

Seriously, in one week the UK's Daily Mail runs stories called

Sorry, but my children bore me to death!

Sorry, but I HATED Breastfeeding.

With a beefy Irish nurse shouting, "Your baby is hungry! These are not for playing with now, girl! They're for feeding your baby!" and some laidback Italian earth mother coming in to save the day, almost every British stereotype has been covered. It's like there's an automatic babyhating article generator out there somewhere.

I think this calls for a headline contest, though. What'll the Daily Mail's mother/columnist be sorry about next week? [thanks to dt reader kenneth]


Can't wait for the rest of the continuing series...

"Sorry, but I hate shepherd's pie and bangers."

"Sorry, but I hate orthodontics."

"Sorry, But The Sound Of My Children Laughing Drives Me To Drink."

I don't know that it's 'baby hating' as it's really sort of refreshing to read something that deviates from the maternal idyll that so often dominates writing since people fear the 'babyhater' backlash. Some women are going to hate breastfeeding and/or find staying at home the closest thing to hell on earth and I'm sure those women who feel similarly will some solace in finding they aren't alone. Those parents who aren't miserable shouldn't feel so easily threatened by women who maybe found out the hard way that the glossy 4-colour parenting brochures weren't telling the whole story.

[look, I'm all for realworld parenting discussions, but that breastfeeding article ain't it. It's as contrived and exaggerated as any Edwardian novel. Which is fine, except that these kind of toxic disillusionment articles are about as realistic and productive for parenting as the "brochures". It's like arguing about which is better for relationships, Big Brother or a soap opera? In reality, they're both entertainments, but practically useless. -ed.

In our house, the Daily Mail is lovingly known as the 'Daily Facist'. We only ever read it if there's one lying around in Mcdonalds, and then, only for a laugh!

[I suspected as much, and not knowing the tabloids and their different spins--and how they're perceived on the ground--I always worry about looking like a dope for being taken in. As if a hippie stumbled across's website and was shocked SHOCKED to find capitalism in there. -ed.]

Don't they have breast pumps in England? Or slings? Maybe she just wasn't successful with breastfeeding because she wasn't into it in the first place, which I totally believe is her own choice. Of course I nursed our kid past her second birthday and she's still only had one fever, so you know what camp I'm in. (My husband still resents the fact that I made him go to a series of mind-numbingly dull prenatal breastfeeding classes because our daughter latched on in like five seconds like he said she would. I hate it when he's right.)

All these aricles on breasfeeding and all the issues that arise--low supply, improper latch, etc always make me wonder what women did when there was no other choice (aside I guess from a wet nurse).

1. Perhaps not the most subtle writing, but calling it babyhating is not a fair dismissal. 2. I'd take her self-deprecating exaggerations over the self-satisfaction of smug lactivists any day.

[I guess I need to work on my self-satisfied parody. If it was a US paper, I would've titled it "the Daily Mail hates babies--and America" but since everyone in the UK DOES hate America, it doesn't really work... -ed.]

I just wonder why the breastfeeding mom didn't get a hint from the bitchy Scottish nurse? I'm not trying to be mean with that statement, either. What I mean is that lots of new moms need help with breastfeeding. That's why there are groups like Le Leche League International. My wife had problems with latch-on and sore nipples, too (I'm sure lots of new moms do), but an LLL book and a few meetings got her all sorted out. I know they have LLL in the UK, but instead of exhausting her options (which I feel any loving parent does), she just gives up and weans her baby right away.

[except that for some folks, LLL is part of the 'mammary mafia' problem, not the solution. -ed.]

Having lived in the UK I have to say all of their newspaper columnists go "over the top" with their point. It's what sells newspapers and distinguishes them from each other--think about it, there are 5 "serious" papers there, and at least 4 tabloids with a very strong circulation compared to US papers.

If these articles put Daily Mail readers off breeding, that's absolutely fine by me. I just hope they keep running them; a few years and they'll be extinct. Happy happy.

[I'm sure if it weren't so distasteful and vulgar, they'd go have sex right now just to spite you. -ed.]

Obviously taking it up to "11" to try to make her point, but it's a little ridiculous. The breast-feeding one sounds like a mommy version of Oliver Twist. And the one about the woman being bored by her children is just a poor re-hash of a lot of themes that have been written elsewhere. There's a book called "Three-Martini Playdate" which does a much better job of capturing the idea that you should not completely abandon your own life to live for your children.

In any case, the Brits aren't the only ones with columnists who write this way. I seem to remember reading some ridiculous rant by Amy Sohn recently on a similar topic...

[Uh uh, no way. Americans would never write like that. -ed.]

Next in the series:
"Sorry, but all Mommy REALLY wanted was a good bonk."

I usually couldn't agree more with you, Greg, but I found the first article kind of refreshing. I feel like I've been in her shoes---making choices with the mother mafia standing by, and wondering why it wasn't ok to decide for myself how I wanted to feed my tyke without some one recommending another LLL meeting.

The second article though...what was she thinking?

[Any woman who decide to give breastfeeding a shot is aces in my book; and I don't imagine a woman's control over her own body is somehow negated at all, far from it. But the article's just so obviously embellished, it's like a BF fairy tale. And so doesn't seem that helpful to me. Of course, it's not my judgment that ultimately matters in these matters, since my job is just to clean the breast pump. - ed.]

As frustrating as the first articles was to read, it did bring to mind one of my favorite TV commercials of all time...

The one for Staples where the dad is gleefully shopping with his kids for back-to-school gear to the tune of "It's the most wonderful time of the year..."

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