First, TIME magazine is the media. It's job is to sell magazines. This is so often achieved by sensationalism. And I'm pretty sure this picture has been quite successful at getting attention and getting people to talk about TIME. Well done, TIME, well done. My hope is that it would have been able to facilitate an honest conversation about nursing older children and attachment parenting. I don't know that that's happened, but a girl can hope.
Second, the title itself ("Are you mom enough?") is inflammatory and only further sets us up as moms - and society as a whole - to judge and be combative with each other (which does no one any good). Let's be honest here. For some god-awful reason, moms attack each other about our parenting choices. We're judgemental when moms don't breastfeed. We're judgemental when moms/babies are breastfeeding past some arbitrary number of months. We're judgemental when baby sleeps with his parents. We're judgemental when baby sleeps in his own room from day 1. We're judgemental when moms stay home with their babies. We're judgemental when moms work outside of the home and their children attend daycare. To name a few.
I think one of the reasons this happens is because many of us are insecure about the parenting decisions we've made. And so, if another mama makes a different parenting decision than we do, we take that personally. We think it confirms our worst fears that *we* have made a poor parenting decision and not done the best for our children.
If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times. (And really, I probably have said it at least a thousand times.) We all do the best we can, at least in that moment. I don't know any mama who wants to be a shitty parent and screw her baby up for life. She makes the decisions she feels are best for her child. End of story. There is no room for judgement in that.
Third, most people who are commenting/freaking out about it, are completely uneducated about what attachment parenting and "extended breastfeeding" actually are. People have asked me if "extended breastfeeding" leads to children who are over attached with their mothers. I don't think one can be "over attached". I think relationships can become enmeshed, but that has absolutely nothing to do with breastfeeding.
In truth, most children who are nursing at age 2, 3, 4, or even later, are nursing only a couple of times a day. These aren't moms who are still (generally speaking) pumping 2 or 3 times a day at work. They're nursing their children at nap time, bedtime, and sometimes as a comfort at some other point throughout the day. Baby E is nursing from once a day to up to 3x a day. That's it.
Fourthly, the "normal" age of weaning around the world is between the ages of 4 and 7. You know, about the time the baby, also known as "milk", teeth fall out. Coincidence? I think probably not. In other words, I think nursing a 3 or 4yo is normal. It may not be comfortable for many people (thus socially "normal"), but that doesn't make it abnormal (i.e. biologically) or in any way harmful to child or mother.
In short, do I think baby E and I will be nursing by the time he's almost 4? Probably not. But who knows. And I'm not opposed to it. And certainly not offended by it. And, truthfully, I don't believe that the quality of our relationship (or his future mental health) will be affected by whether or not we are still nursing at that age.
But, friends, that's just me and the way I mother. You do it your way. No judgement here.
Today's Lesson: Way to go mama. Do what works for you and your child. What's right for one mama - or child - isn't for another. It is not for us to judge.