Is Time Magazine's Cover Of Mom Breastfeeding 3-Year-Old Too Much?
I breastfed my kids until they were two. I co-slept, I slinged and I strollered. I even have attachment parenting guru, Dr. Sears, sitting right here on my shelf and I loved it.
But I don't like the latest Time magazine cover.
The Time cover that everyone is talking about is doing exactly what it intended to do: it got everyone talking. A beautiful, blond mom in a strappy tank stares defiantly at the camera with a large three-year-old in camo pants nursing while standing on a stool.
It's provocative. It's too nicely shot to be an out and out tabloid shot, but that is what this cover is. The picture is meant to make you angry, emotional, to buy the magazine and most of all to talk about the magazine. (It worked, I've done all of those things!)
The title judgementally asks: Are You Mom Enough? And yes, I am, thanks for asking. So are all moms. (Though that isn't exactly what I looked like breastfeeding. And I don't call myself an attachment parent, even though I meet some of the descriptions.)
The article is (supposedly) about Dr. Sears and attachment parenting and what his ideas about breastfeeding, babywearing, and co-sleeping have done for mothers. My guess is that it is French Feminism-lite; another way to shame mothers for being close to their babies and guilt those who didn't breastfeed. Awesome.
Attachment parenting is an important philosophy, but like most parenting philosophies many women chose the parts that felt right and discarded the parts that went too far for them. It promotes breastfeeding and co-sleeping (which many parents do, whether they call it that or not). It did away with the old-fashioned ideas of giving your baby too much love or forcing them on to a feeding schedule. To those that adhere to it, it feels natural and authentic and those who oppose it say it causes issues with boundaries.
But true attachment parents are few and far between. If only one-third of women are breastfeeding by the time the baby is four months, how many people can truly be following this philosophy?
But I digress because the picture on the cover is what everyone will talk about and remember. The picture which shows a three-year-old (but one that looks much older) with his mother, Jamie-Lynn Grumet's breast firmly in his mouth. No doubt, he also had some Goldfish crackers and apple in there too.
I nursed two of my kids until they were two. It wasn't a political decision, it wasn't a decision at all. The weeks and months blurred together and suddenly they were two. It was a time I will always cherish and I don't care if you know or if you did the same.
I have written about breastfeeding enough to know that many people have issues with it - especially in public. I don't even understand why. Babies need to eat, you don't need to look. I still don't know why people care so much or why it is anyone's business. It doesn't shock me that TV announcers "wince" when they think about it, that people are grossed out by a purely natural occurence.
If Time had wanted to shock me, if they had truly wanted to be different, they would have shown motherhood in a positive light. They could have chosen beautiful pictures of women nursing that weren't supposed to incite those who didn't with guilt. They could have had photos of women bottle-feeding that showed that bonding happens there too.
They could have written a positive article about women that wasn't aimed at dividing them, but one that showed that women and men are trying their hardest to do the best job they can. They could have recognized that everyone makes different choices on how to parent and those choices are valid for their family.
Maybe the reporter did write that, but I doubt it.
And it doesn't matter, because the only thing that will matter is the image of a young, beautiful woman with a large child suckling her.
Dr. Sears, Jamie-Lynn (the mom) and a Time editor were on the Today Show this morning. You can practically hear the sneer in the reporter's introduction about attachment parenting, as if responding to a baby's cries was so outrageous:
What did you think of the picture?
Want more chaos? My most controversial post of last year, was not about breastfeeding or gender roles -- it was about homework! (Who knew people cared about homework so much?)