I’ve been sent the Time Magazine cover quite a few times already.
Each time I sigh.
Yes. It is inflammatory. For many reasons.
First. Many people in this country have not seen full term breastfeeding, or if they have seen full term breastfeeding it is because they have done it themselves. But have never seen another mother do it. Full term breastfeeding tends to happen behind closed doors. Not because it is shameful or worthy of hiding but because it tends to become a part of a bedtime or wakeup routine rather than something that happens across the day. When a magazine has a picture of a small bald infant nursing, everyone gets up in arms about that. To suddenly be exposed to a photograph of a three year old child nursing is going to put people on edge. This does not mean that breastfeeding an older child is wrong. It simply means that we don’t see it. Think back to the segregated South and imagine a magazine cover showing an interracial couple. Think back to the 1800’s and imagine a photograph of a woman in a modest (by today’s standards) bikini. Oh the heads that would explode. Then to top it off, the child’s size is being emphasized. He’s standing on a chair. He’s nursing standing up. Look at how close he is to mom’s height. He will OBVIOUSLY still be nursing once he’s off to college. Honestly, I’m surprised that her breast is still there. I know that I wouldn’t have trusted my three year old nursling to nurse that way with the distraction and allure of shiny cameras all around while a distractable child stood perched precariously on a chair. (I actually love the picture. But that’s beside the point. The headline and sub-header destroy it for me.)
So you have a picture that will put people on edge.
Second. The headline. “Are You Mom Enough?” This title appears to be the words spoken from that weird woman on the cover that is doing this unspeakable thing. Apparently if you don’t nurse your child until the child is PRACTICALLY READY TO GO TO COLLEGE (look at how huge he is) this blonde skinny woman who has her boob whipped out.. Will actually have the nerve to JUDGE YOU for not being mom enough. (!!!) How dare she? *sigh* Attachment parenting is not about being “mom enough” or “not mom enough”. Just like non-attachment parenting isn’t about abandoning your child on a riverbank in a basket with a hatchet and some matches and seeing if they’re independent enough to survive in the wild. It’s not a competition, folks. It’s a parenting style.
So. You have a headline that makes people feel judged by this very very strange woman that is doing strange things that we quite simply do not see and have not seen. To top it off, it’s coming out right around mother’s day. Let’s question everyone’s motherhood near mother’s day! Awesome idea!
Third. The description of nursing a three year old. “Extreme” parenting. Now. I could see this being extreme if mom was bungee jumping with her child, or… Oh.. Buying breast implant gift certificates for her seven year old daughter. (Which apparently is odd enough to raise an eyebrow at, but I haven’t really seen anyone define it as “extreme parenting”.) Or those parents that like to allow their young female children to dress in “nude” clothing, pretend to be naked and dance seductive dance routines. Yeah, that’s just weird. Possibly objectionable. But it takes an attachment parent to earn that coveted title of “extreme”. We should totally have a television show where you can watch us.. Nurse our children. And OMG the baby wearing. Tucking little tiny babies into pieces of fabric and.. NOT LETTING THEM CRY. The insanity of it all. How can a baby be a baby unless it screams for a few hours while mom teaches it to be independent? We are obviously extreme extreme EXTREME parents. In fact, Time Magazine did us an injustice using only one “extreme” on the cover. It should have been several extremes. In 3D. With 3D glasses for emphasis.
I was briefly tempted to purchase a subscription for a week’s pass so that I could read the actual article. Then I decided that the cover annoyed me enough that I really didn’t want to.
Time Magazine knows exactly what they’re doing. They’re pissing people off. To make money. And I do not appreciate that my parenting style is being thrown under the bus to make them money.
The truth is that Attachment Parenting is really rather dull and is completely and totally misunderstood. It’s not a set of instructions that you Must Follow Or You Are a Very Bad Parent. It’s a set of guidelines that quite honestly frees me up to do exactly what my instincts tell me to do. NOT IGNORE MY CHILD.
So rather than describe the boringness that is my parenting style (like the cute little baby that is asleep in a wrap on my chest in her cloth diaper), I will suggest that you go forth and find one of those books about truly extreme parenting that advocates beating your child with implements of varying thicknesses appropriate to different age groups (starting in infancy so that they learn not to fight back). Or one of the books about letting your baby scream until they puke and then putting a towel over it because obviously being so upset that you vomit is an attempt at manipulation and letting your child fall asleep on clean sheets would be letting that mean manipulative baby human get away with something so very terrible.
Because truly. What is more extreme? A happy sleeping content little baby, or a screaming baby laying in a puddle of puke?
And what does it say about this society (and Time Magazine) that a happy well cared for baby is considered “extreme”?
So. Yeah. I sigh.