You know the one I mean--the one with a picture of a woman breastfeeding a three year old on the cover with the caption "Are You MOM Enough?"
The article/magazine cover first came to my attention last Friday. We were at my in-law's house while our power was out from the storm and a news program came on TV. The broadcaster started talking about the mom on the cover* and (cue the horror movie music) how "she even nursed her two children at the same time!"
They really used horror movie music. No joke. If I could remember the channel or the show I would include a link just so you could hear the music and her tone of voice. With the lead up I was expecting her to say something along the lines of "she even gives them crack cocaine with breakfast, every day."
My husband started laughing. I watched about 30 more seconds of the show before leaving the room. I was overwhelmed by the ignorance and negative attitude.
About 4 hours later when we were getting ready for bed my husband burst out laughing again and said, "that was the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard." He was of course referring to the show and how they thought it was so outrageous that someone nurses a three year old and/or tandem nurses. He's awesome like that.
Just for the record, our daughter nurses her Bert and Ernie dolls at the same time.
The next day I started coming across countless articles about the TIME cover and even a few about the article itself. I decided at that point that I didn't want to read the article.
Now, I'm a strong supporter of breastfeeding as long as it is mutually desirable for both mother and child. My husband and I practice attachment parenting (I'm fully aware that the phrase brings up countless stereotypes but I have yet to meet two families whose attachment parenting style looks the same). It doesn't make me uncomfortable to see a mother nursing a three year old. Or a four year old. I'm currently pregnant and nursing my two and a half year old. No, I don't know when she's going to stop nursing.Still one of my favorite nursing pics
On one hand I'm glad that children breastfeeding beyond infancy is getting some publicity. I wish I could say I thought it was helping to normalize extended breastfeeding (which is really just normal breastfeeding in most of the world).
But I worry the TIME cover is not helping normalize anything. There are a million things about it that bother me about it. I know the caption and the picture were chosen to sell magazines, not educate people about breastfeeding or attachment parenting. I hate that the caption was so inflammatory, pitting moms against one another and omitting dads all together. Would people have reacted differently if she'd been nursing a girl? If she'd been less attractive by societal standards? If she'd been holding her son instead of him standing on a chair? If the caption didn't pick at every mom's self-esteem? If it hadn't been released Mother's Day weekend?
Of course people would have reacted differently. That's why TIME chose the picture that would get the biggest, craziest reaction. Because I know all this, I don't really care what they have to say about attachment parenting and I'm not going to read the article. I don't want to give them any money.
I will however read as much as I can of the resulting conversation. Conversations about breastfeeding, attachment parenting, and ending the "mommy wars". These conversations need to be had. As a society we need to stop pitting moms against one another and start acknowledging the roles that dads play as well. Moms are mom enough and dads are dad enough. Different decisions are best for different people. Do I agree with all the parenting decisions that people make? No, of course not. That's why I make my own decisions. I'm as judgmental as the next person even though I wish I wasn't.
Just in case you want to know more about what I've been reading, check out the following links.
I was relieved to read a dad's perspective and have someone address the issue of sexualization of breastfeeding in our society. The article also made me laugh. I assure you that my breastfeeding boobs have had no interest in anything remotely sexual since my daughter was born.
My friend Justine wrote this excellent post in time for Mother's Day. Everyone needs a Mother's day declaration.
I also really enjoyed this interview with Mayim Bialik. I wished they'd interviewed her on the program with the horror movie music.
Have I missed some good ones? Have you read any articles I should add to my list?
*The mom on the cover? Her name is Jamie and she also writes for BlogHer (which is where I first read her work). Among other things, she writes about adoption, breastfeeding, and being a trans-racial family. Click here and here for two of her recent posts that I found particularly interesting.
Follow all our adventures at S.A.H.M. i AM (where this post was originally published).
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