By now just about everyone and her mother has weighed in on the controversial TIME Magazine cover. I figured I might as well toss in my two cents for whatever it may be worth.
At first, I wasn’t particularly bothered by the cover. While I have no intention of breastfeeding my 4 year old, I also don’t have much of an opinion about the issue. All families are different, and what works for some won’t work for others. Of that I am quite, quite sure.
However, the more I thought about the image of a beautiful young mother standing in defiance as her curious “big boy” nursed, the more annoyed I became. Not at the woman, but at Time magazine. If an article about attachment parenting is the big news of the week, why not show a mother nursing and nurturing a newborn? Time wanted to provoke, obviously, but in doing so I feel like breastfeeding took a few steps back. It can be a contentious issue – breast vs bottle, when to wean, nursing in public, etc – and the photo suggests that the only worthy breastfeeding mother is one who does it for years and years. I’d rather celebrate the new mothers who are courageously and proudly nursing despite latch problems or bleeding nipples or exhausting cluster feeds at 3 am. They deserve our encouragement and support (and a feature on the cover of a national publication).
Perhaps what irked me the most about the magazine cover was that Time giddily set off yet another round of the mommy wars. And, I am SO OVER the mommy wars. If a blogger or reporter or fellow mom at the playground is talking in a demeaning manner about issues that matter to me, I have every right to tune that person out. I am not beholden to anyone’s approval other than my own (and, to a large extent, my husband’s). For example, if a fellow mom tells me that cloth diapering is crazy and a huge waste of my time, I will not let her opinion get me down. If I were genuinely bothered by her comments, then perhaps it means that I am genuinely concerned about my choice. I am the only person who can make me feel like less of a mother.
I don’t rigidly subscribe to one specific parenting philosophy. I am a big believer in intuition, and I let my spirit (not a book or blogger or guru) guide me when parenting challenges arise. Of course I appreciate many of the tenets of attachment parenting as described in the Time article, but our family is in constant motion. Some days are attachment days, and other days are crazy and hectic and stressful. For us, life is about going with the flow.
Perhaps the best part about living in America is our diversity. We are a country founded upon freedom of the individual. With that said, I have no right to cast judgement upon a fellow mother who is making mothering decisions different from my own. Of course I have an opinion about how to be a parent, but so does everyone else! As far as I’m concerned, as long as parents are loving and respecting their children, they are doing just fine.
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