About Me

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Concord, California, United States
I am a sometimes-writer, everyday mama, creative failure and experimental cook. I am interested in living a beautiful life, spending time with my family and making things that I can feel proud of. When I'm by myself I'm usually outside. Don't bother calling because chances are that I didn't bring my cell phone because I couldn't find it. If you see me walking, it's because I lost my keys and if you see me with only one child... I'm probably in big trouble.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Are You Mom Enough?

The Time magazine cover has really taken my Twitter timeline by storm today.  I mean, Jesus, Mary and Joseph!  So many people are upset about it.  I read the question, "Are you mom enough," six million times, dirtied with denotations of disgust and offense.   I had to check out the links and see what all the fuss was about.

When I finally saw the cover, I thought, okay... so where is the problem?

I get it, I guess.   This very attractive and mainstream, all-american, woman is on the cover of Time magazine breastfeeding a child who is not a baby with a caption that reads, "Are You Mom Enough?"  The boy in the photograph is 3 years old.  Many Americans do not extend their breastfeeding beyond six months, I believe.  But, is THAT the problem?  Is it really possible that a photograph of a woman breastfeeding a three year old has made people this upset?  It CAN'T be.

Is it that the title of the article asks, "Are You Mom Enough?"  The title itself is a rather inflated and combative question which implies that a parent who does not breastfeed beyond the first year is inferior to mothers who practice this tenet of attachment parenting.  But isn't that just so transparent?  I mean, the title is clearly designed to make people feel defensive?    If I saw an article with the same title and a woman with a briefcase and suit dropping her leashed child off at a daycare, I wouldn't be offended.  I would see through it, just as I see through this.

Everyone, parent or not, is aware of the movement toward breastfeeding.  And, of course, we all know that some people extend their breastfeeding.  Is the problem with the Time magazine cover that it featured a woman who is attractive?  Is it that she looks so normal? Is the problem that any common, heterosexual, mainstream man pictured himself marrying a woman like this at some point?  Is it that she looks so healthy? Should a woman who extends her breastfeeding be easily identified as a freak?  Should she wear some sort of extreme uniform, maybe have six inches of hair beneath her armpits and be 40 lbs overweight?  Should she have on birkenstocks and a shirt that says, "I'd rather go naked than wear fur?"  Would that be easier because the majority of us could say, "people like THAT do such strange things...?"

I mean, facts are facts.  Breastfeeding is healthy.  Children who are offered extended breastfeeding are healthier, smarter, thinner and friendlier as a whole.  These things are true.  Tried, tested and proven.  Are formula fed kids unhealthy?  No. Of course not.  Are children who were only offered breast milk for their first year going to be unhealthy, dumb, fat and unhappy?  Maybe, but the cause won't be that they were weened too soon.

Here's what is NOT healthy.  Feeding your kids McDonalds chicken nuggets.  I have seen many commercials that certainly feature three year old children poppin' nuggets into their mouths, smiling and saying, "I'm luvin' it," without anyone so much as raising an eyebrow.  And do you know what, I DON'T CARE.

Guess what?  

I don't care how ANYONE chooses to feed their child.

Do you know why?

Because it's none of my business.

And it's none of yours either.

There, I said it.

It seems that breastfeeding is such  a hot topic and I just can't seem to understand the heart of it.  I mean, really... I do not understand.  Is this an I-am-better-than-you-and-work-harder-at-parenting-and-love-my-children-more-because I breastfeed thing?  Is it another way to take power away from women by convincing women that we are our own enemies?  Really?  Again?  Is it a sexuality thing?  Is it a those-boobies-are-made-for-grown-men-and-how-is-he-possibly-going-to-want-to engage-in-any-sexual-behavior-if-he-risks-getting-a-mouth-full-of-milk?  I don't understand.  Do you?  This is too complicated for me to wrap my head around.

Because it's so healthy, women are pressured by doctors to breastfeed.  All of the literature suggests that if you really love your baby, you'll breastfeed no matter how difficult it is.  Struggling? Call the le leche legue.  Still struggling?  Pay a lactation consultant  to come into your house morning, noon and night.  Sit in the chair.  Relax.  Don't' get up.  Don't give up.  Stick with it.  Mastitis.  Feed through it.  Chapped, bleeding nipples?  Feed through it.  And never give formula.

But, let's face it, very few people do this.  Being a new mother is hard enough.  Formula isn't unhealthy and unless you are very confident, breastfeeding can mean being stuck at home until you are partially supplementing with baby food.  Breastfeeding means never knowing how many ounces your baby is drinking.  Breastfeeding means pain.  Breastfeeding means dirty looks. It means nursing in the bathroom of your favorite restaurant.  It means, struggling with your baby as she pulls the nursing cloth off your your chest because she can't breath and if she can't breathe she can't eat and if she can't eat she cries and if she cries you are getting more dirty looks.  It means, being asked to leave the library.  It means being asked to get off the plane.   It means being asked to leave the store.  Breastfeeding means rude remarks and judgments about your parenting from people who you don't know.

For many mom's. breastfeeding is a near impossibility.  And for most of them, giving formula instead of breast milk feels like the ultimate failure.  There is a division.  People who are breastfeeding and people who are not.  Both are judging and being judged, by each other and by just about everyone else.

As women,  as mothers, we do not have it easy.

So, why the fuck don't we just all go ahead and leave each other alone?

You know, it's amazing to me that so many children are actually being abused in some way but no one says a damn thing because they don't want to interfere with the disciplinary choices of other parents, yet no one blinks an eye about making a judgment about how people choose to feed their children.

It doesn't make much sense to me.

If anyone can help me understand this issue, I welcome it.


  1. exactly! you summed it up amazingly well. i am surprised too at just how insane the discussion on this was/is.