Time Magazine published this story about attachment parenting. The cover showed a mom
breastfeeding her three year old son and the internet lit up like the fourth of July.
Obviously generating a buzz was a factor in the magazine’s choice of cover shots. Every “mom blogger” from here to Timbuktu has weighed in on this. Some cheering, some outraged, some gagging a little.
This photo may not depict the serene bonding experience of breastfeeding; it was used to spark debate. But haven’t you ever fed your child on the fly? I once breastfed my daughter while shopping for a new refrigerator. I was in a rush and she was quite happy nestled under my coat. Just because we weren’t locked in a gaze of love and warmth, it doesn’t make me a bad parent. It makes me a busy, multitasking mama who was trying to stick to a feeding schedule.
The first thing I noticed in this photo was the mother’s arms. “Wow, her biceps are tight,” I thought. The next thing I noticed were her shoes. “Where can I get those ballet flats?” I wondered.
I’m the mother of a son who was way off the growth charts (and still is) so the size of the boy in the photo didn’t have much of an impact. As for him standing? Can you imagine trying to cradle that? Hello back brace. My guy wasn’t a stellar breast feeder. We gave it our best shot, but after a few months we threw in the towel. Did I feel like a failure? Yes. It took a long time to let that go. I suppose if my son still wanted to breastfeed at three I would’ve done it, if it was right for us. (And I’m pretty sure there would’ve been some standing involved).
I wore my babies and I slept with them off and on. I still do some nights. Does that make me an attachment parent? I have no idea. I just parent.
Another issue many have raised is the fallout this child may face as he gets older. In a kinder world he would undoubtedly look back at this photo with pride thinking, “What an incredible bond my mom and I had. She sure loved me.”
Humans are a fierce species though. We criticize anything different from the mainstream. We even sexualize breastfeeding. Show me another species that does that. It’s a teet. Whoopdie-freaking-doo. Holy hangups people.
My grandma breastfed four children for an extended period. It wasn’t labeled as a certain type of parenting; attachment or otherwise. It was just parenting. There was no critique. My dad is the most loving, gentle man. He’s a son who knows his mother loved him. How can that be wrong?
*Ya, ya. I know my dad wasn’t featured on the cover of an international magazine. Maybe if had been, he’d be all confused and angry today. In that case, my mom probably wouldn’t have married him and I wouldn’t be here right now. Whoah.
How about we just raise our kids the best we can. Let’s teach them to be tolerant and kind. Let’s focus on them and stop chattering about what other parents may or may not be doing. Cool?