When I woke up this morning and caught news of the instantly infamous Time Magazine cover featuring a young mom breastfeeding her nearly 4-year-old son, I thought it had to be a joke. Time Magazine. Time. Freaking. Magazine.
So that happened. And then the Internet exploded.
What’s up with the provocative cover, Time? I mean aside from the desperation for people to buy your magazine? The coverline reads, “Are You Mom Enough?” and the associated article by Kate Pickert talks about the Attachment Parenting trend brought to us in recent years by Dr. Sears.
Attachment Parenting, or AP, is the method of parenting that involves completely devoting yourself to your children. It includes co-sleeping, feeding on demand, extended breastfeeding, baby wearing, and basically doing anything and everything to keep your baby from crying.
Some people (not all) that devote themselves to Attachment Parenting exude a certain sort of elitism -- the idea that they’re better parents than us lesser mortals that think breastfeeding a 4-year-old borders on creepy.
Side note: Can we at least all agree that regurgitation feeding a la Alicia Silverstone is gross?
Anyway. Back to the Mommy Wars. I’m raising kids in a culture that praises AP parents, which is both difficult and interesting. I’m the tough-love mama that gets tons of crap for letting my kids cry-it-out, making them sleep in their own beds, spanking them, etc. It has not been easy, and any judgey, holier-than-thou, nursing-her-kid-to-kindergarten AP mama that thinks she’s more devoted to her kids than I am because she doesn’t let them cry hasn’t experienced the pain of hearing her kids cry and holding herself back from “fixing it.”
If Attachment Parenting works for your family -- awesome. Some moms seem to be born mothers, with an endless supply of patience to be doled out on their progeny. I am not one of those people. I love playing with my kids and going on adventures with them, but when it’s time for them to behave in public, clean their room, eat their veggies, or go to bed, I expect them to do it. They know to expect a spank if I get to “three.”
Unfortunately, I think a lot of AP parents may be setting themselves up for failure. What happens when the babies and toddlers grow into kids that rely on Mommy for everything? What happens when this poor kid on the cover of Time Magazine starts school? Dude will always be the “boob kid.”
Mothering, including breastfeeding, is wonderful. But there comes a certain point when you have to nudge your kids away from the breast and the nest and teach them to take care of themselves. They can’t live on breast milk forever.