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I’m Too Busy Keeping My Kids Alive To Care About How You Parent Yours

Image: Time Inc.

By Amy L. Hatch

So unless you’re dead or living in a cave, you’ve seen the Time Magazine cover that shows a pretty blonde mom breastfeeding her three-year-old son, while he stands on a step-stool, under a headline that reads, “Are You Mom Enough?”

The photo/headline one-two punch was meant to rile moms everywhere and boy, did it ever. Most of the critiques were about how the magazine lobbed a grenade into some kind of fantasy summer camp for moms where we all just get along all the time and braid each other’s hair and have pillow fights and make midnight raids on the kitchen — when we’re not busy judging each other.

Bad Time Magazine! Bad! You put link bait into a pool of mommy sharks! And surprise! The mommy sharks took the bait!

The truth is that the cover story wasn’t even really about breastfeeding, except in the most tangential way, which is to say that the subject matter was attachement parenting and how some mothers choose to wear their babies, co-sleep until they go to college, swaddle their bums in organic hemp diapers or whatever the hell it is they do.

I don’t know too much about it (obviously) because I really, truly, honestly and with all of my cold, black heart do not care one single iota how you or anyone else raises their kids.

Most people don’t.

I’m too busy keeping the two children I have alive (which ain’t easy, let me tell you, these two are accident prone) to examine whether or not you have juice in your sippy cup or whether or not you’re breastfeeding.

Which leads me to my second point: I do not care if you breastfeed. I’m looking at you, Beyonce/Alanis/Selma/Alicia/Gwen/Gwyneth.

If you do happen to breastfeed your 3-year-old, I don’t really care about that, either. Unless you stand in the middle of the playground and do it, because then it isn’t about feeding your kid. Then, it’s about making a spectacle of yourself.

Because that is, no matter what anyone says, a spectacle.

Which brings me right back to my friends at Time Magazine. They wanted you to look. They wanted you to write about the Mommy Wars on your blogs and the Huffington Post. Because they wanted the pageviews/ad revenue/publicity/brand awareness.

They wanted to make a spectacle.

Breastfeeding is the holy grail of judgement, the No. 1 symbol of the fetish our current culture makes of parenthood. We wring our hands and we fight and we Google photos of Lucy Lawless dressed in a pencil skirt with her blouse open (oh, no, that is so not sexualized, is it?) breastfeeding her infant.

So it comes as no surprise that a magazine cover image like the one published by Time caused a ruckus. Because no one really knew what to think. I mean, breastfeeding is The Right Thing To Do. So how do we process an image that depicts breastfeeding in a manner that is (quietly but still) considered taboo, no matter what the anthropologists tell us?

We get mad. We write editorials (yes, like this one). We point fingers and we shout and some of us pretend to link arms and walk together as one, but let’s be honest.

We don’t. We don’t really. That just isn’t possible when you are engaged in an act that is as violent, degrading, exhilarating, joyful, intimate and personal as raising a child. We are in the trenches, and we are alone. Our fellow soldiers are waving at us from their own foxholes, but when the time comes to pull the trigger, we’re all by ourselves.

We figure out how to do it the best we can, and we drag ourselves and our kids away from the front lines and into the safety zone and we send them off to fight their own wars.

I don’t care how you do it.

But I will cheer for you when you do.

Amy L. Hatch is a co-founder and editor of chambanamoms.com, and she isn’t short on opinions. She can be reached at amy@chambanamoms.com.

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Comments

  1. Mamma J says:

    Brava, Amy. Thank you…

  2. I think you are correct that Time Magazine was more interested in stirring up trouble than sincerely exploring different lifestyles. I’m glad that you are respectful of parenting choices that differ from your own. I do wish that your respect would extend to mothers who need to nurse their 3-year-olds on playgrounds. I’ve been that mom, and I know others who’ve been that mom. We don’t do it to make a spectacle of ourselves, and most of us do it as a last resort, but sometimes that’s just what our children need. When that happens, we’re too busy taking care of our children to care if people like you think we’re making a spectacle of ourselves. That Time cover was carefully crafted to be a spectacle. A mom trying to sooth a preschooler on a park bench is not.

    • Amy L. Hatch says:

      Tracy, I can totally understand that. What I was trying to say is that there is a difference between practicing your parenting philosophy in a discreet way (exactly as you described) and doing it in such a fashion as to call attention to oneself deliberately as a way of making a statement.

      • Betsy Crocker says:

        Yeah–the Time photo is not what extended breastfeeding looks like! I find that photo creepy. And while the 3-year-old might need the comfort of nursing discreetly in public very occasionally, I can’t imagine it being anything but a private moment at home for an older child.

  3. I’m glad this was covered on Chambanamoms and you did it perfectly. I hope more moms can realize that we should all be on the same team and the mommy wars are unnecessary. We do not need to participate.

  4. thanks for this GREAT ARTICLE!

    this sums up exactly how i feel about the “mommy wars.” parenting is hard and we all struggle with how to do it the best way we can. i hate it when some controversy comes along that tries to pit one mom against another. i can’t sit in judgment of someone else’s choices when i second-guess my own every single day!

  5. Jacqueline says:

    I 100% agree with lets stop wasting energy judging each other as mothers and parents. But your description of attachment parenting in the intro is full of stereotypes and judgement. I know the frustration, I am not the person for whom the attachment parenting route worked in all aspects and I ended up shedding those that did not work for me, but lets try not to use inflammatory descriptions of any reasonable parenting style, it’ll make the call to not waste time judging each other and have each other’s backs more meaningful.

  6. It takes a village to raise a child but until the village learns how to respect one another, learn from each other, support the needs of those around them than we are all doomed, especially our children. Because when you think about, how are we suppose to expect our children to be tolerant, loving, and respectful of those around them, especially those who are different from them and making different choices, when we can’t do it ourselves?

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