More Women Vs. Mothers On The Time Magazine Cover: It’s A Lot Of Pressure, Ladies

Posted on May 14, 2012 by

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Time magazine nursing mom

Yes, that’s what I was thinking when I first saw it a few days ago. So much so that I could barely get myself to write a post about it, let alone discuss it with everyone on the planet who seems to be talking about it. Which is the point of this cover, no? To provoke. The mother of all shock and awe? Here are my points of contention.

1. Can we all agree that it’s an over-sexualized photo–yes, just like the ones that we’ve seen here and here? That most mothers don’t look like the mother in that shot–skinny jeans, flat stomach. Is this woman the June Cleaver of 2012? She can wear the right dress, mother her kids perfectly,  and be present for their every need without a hitch. You know, do it all and look great. Just like June Cleaver did back in the 1950s, right?

2. Though the photo is of breastfeeding, the article is about attachment parenting. Attachment parenting is a kind of parenting I practiced to a certain degree, but when my internal stop sign dictated me to push down on the brakes, I did. The idea of it is to “wear” your baby, nurse your baby, co-sleep with your baby and shun the “cry-it-out” method. I’ve practiced all of these things and none of these things. Can we agree that one singular prescription of parenting is never how motherhood goes down?

As KJ Dell’Antoia wrote in the NY Times:

“Are you mom enough? Yes. No. Kind of. Sometimes, when it seems like it’s the right thing to do. It depends.”

3. Is attachment parenting a method of motherhood imprisonment? Did I stop breastfeeding my daughter early with guilt as those against the movement might suggest? e.g., Erica Jong called attachment parenting “imprisonment” and Amanda Marcotte says her real disturbance is about the continued “burdens and demands on mothers.”

I’m like President Obama. My thoughts about this have evolved. Early on, I practiced the au natural about every element of mothering because this was the best way for my child method, and with my second one, I moved into the I have to do what’s right for me, the baby and my family and the baby is not going to die method.

4. I’ve come to the decision that it’s not just styles of mothering that feel like imprisonment. Sometimes motherhood feels like imprisonment.

5. I’m slightly turned off by any ideal that goes too far in one direction. Forgive me if I’m a moderate on this topic, but as I’ve mentioned, I had natural childbirth with one kid and an epidural with the other. I nursed with one child for a year, the other for 2 months. I don’t enjoy sleeping with my children. Ever. But a number of times, I nursed Jake while eating out for dinner and lunch. My baby needed to eat. End of discussion. These are individual decisions, ya’ll.

6. As Miri will tell you at some point this week, sometimes detachment parenting is as necessary as, if not more than, attachment parenting.

7. I’m going to end with this quote from someone who posted this comment on the New York Times Motherlode blog:

In general, I love the Internet, but boy does it ever magnify these sorts of controversies. In real life, I know any number of women whose parenting choices span the spectrum, and I don’t feel like we judge each other or that we compete or any of that. Yay for real life, I guess…