Friday, May 11, 2012

The TIME magazine debate

Okay. I had to do it. I had to post a response to the TIME cover photo and the related article. Too many people have asked my opinion. Admittedly, I've only seen the cover, haven't read the article (when I've tried, it said you had to have a subscription). But, here are a few of my thoughts.

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.


Elphaba said...

Great response! You're so right that none of us wants to make the wrong decision. I know I have some thoughts percolating on this too that I need to get down.

Elizabeth said...

This post is fantastic! You're so right! It's horrible how much mothers (well, people in general) tend to judge each other when we're all doing our best. I think it's interesting that the rest of the world weans after age 4! That's good information to know! :)

Anonymous said...

I just hated the fact that they tried to sexualize the issue by showing a hot blond mama with a tank top on. There is nothing wrong with feeding your child (or comforting them) at that age (or even older), and it's ridiculous that they have to try and turn women against each other to sell magazines.

Alex said...

Amen, amen, amen! I especially like your lesson!!! Great post - every word is so very true. I am the best mama I can be - in my own situation. Do I wish I could have breastfed longer? Absolutely! Do I wish I could sleep with Alex in my bed? Absolutely! But neither of these have worked out for my family, and that is the only thing that matters. I've read a few things about the mama on the cover, and I even tried to read her blog, but I think it's having some technical difficulties due to the press... Or she's suddenly made it private. Anyway, I put her blog in my reader, and I could see some historical posts, and I honestly believe that she's just doing the best she can for her family. As we all are doing. The world would be a much better place if we could just STOP judging so much!!!

Elizabeth said...

Very well said- I don't have anything brilliant to add that your other commenters haven't said, but thought your post, and lesson, are great!

~Maria said...

What a wonderful response! I was particularly annoyed with the caption about being mom enough. Grrr! I love how you stated that we all do the best we can in any given moment; period. :)

Donor Diva said...

Great post! I got a hate message from a friend because I posted the cover to my Facebook page. And almost got in an argument with an uneducated co worker about extended breastfeeding.

Keep the great posts coming!

Lechelle said...

excellent post Becky!