Same War, Different Picture

I was in labor with my first child for 26 ½ hours.

The reward of a healthy baby boy was well worth the pain and discomfort of child birth.

I remember the nurses immediately putting my new baby on my chest, warming him with blankets, and encouraging me to breast-feed him right away. Up until that point, I had been 110% on board the nursing train. I had priced formula and read the articles about the benefits of breast milk. I knew that we were going to breastfeed and it would be easy and cost-efficient and beautiful.

Images of me in a flowing white gown with my hair knotted in a loose chignon at my neck with a sweet baby feeding in my arms were stuck in my mind during my nine months of pregnancy.

Then the nurse handed me a baby and told me to try to feed him.

Nothing happened.

We chalked it up to first time jitters.

Nothing happened the second time either.

 Or the third.

 Or the fourth.

There was a very unfortunate incident where a lactation consultant thought the baby crying while I attempted pumping would cause something to happen in the milk-producing department… but it did not. Instead she wound up with both her patients crying and me begging her to feed my child anything, even if she had to swing through the McDonald’s drive through, pick up a Happy Meal and blend it up in a bottle for the boy.

I hung in with nursing for almost three months with the little guy. It was a struggle (later determined to be related to thyroid issues) and unpleasant. We switched to formula at three months and never looked back.

My daughter never breast-fed and was given a bottle shortly after birth (By me. Who was still crying and wondering how I was supposed to feed this small thing in my arms).

My breast-feeding story leads me to the cover of this week’s Time magazine. By now, you have encountered the picture of a young mom breast-feeding her toddler. The picture is meant to be in-your-face. Breast-feeding a toddler is not spectacularly controversial. Women do it world-wide every day (it is a bit more rare in the United States). However, we often do not see these women on the cover of a magazine, with their tank top pulled low and their child standing on a stool, having a snack.

Keeping with the shocking nature of this cover, is the question “Are you Mom enough?”

To the author of said question, my response would be a very intelligent “Huh?”

Am I mom enough to what? Feed my child? Breast-feed what appears to be an older child (the boy is only three, although the clothing he is wearing and the stool he is standing on give the appearance that he is older)? Pull down my tank top in public? Wear size 0 jeans when I have a toddler running around?

The article’s content discusses attachment parenting. I am cool with that. We personally do not adhere to the main principles of this theory (although I did wear my daughter quite a bit…but that was more a logistical thing of attempting to care for a newborn and a 21 month old at the same time rather than a bonding thing). The pictures and captions that go with this article seem to portray an altogether different thought. The thought behind the pictures seems to be more, “Hey, look what I can do as a mom “ and leave the inevitable mom guilt (“Maybe I should have nursed longer.”) to linger in the minds of the readers.

The Mommy Wars continue to rage. The media is stoking the fire by asking such questions like “Are you Mom enough?” (And putting such issues on newsstands on MOTHERS DAY weekend, for goodness sakes).

And we, this group known as mommies, are jumping into that war with our opinions blazing. We feel the need to defend, regardless what side of attachment parenting we find ourselves on. We want to justify that we are mom enough, despite how we feed/clothe/bathe/educate our children.

I say “Shame on you, Time Magazine” (please do not cancel my subscription) for putting such a controversial message and picture on your cover. If you want to do an article on a particular type of parenting….great. How about something a bit less “In Your Face!”?

And, also moms (Myself included)….shame on us. Mommyhood is hard. Figuring out careers and child-rearing and discipline tactics and exactly which frozen chicken nuggets have some shred of nutritional value is hard. Let’s stick together, shall we, and leave all the fussing and defending for someone else.

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5 thoughts on “Same War, Different Picture”

  1. Hey Lynley~ all I can say is, AMEN to your words :)! I am so sick of fights being intentionally sparked for mothers/women to “go at it” with each other……mommies need to be encouraging each other since it is a fact of life that we are all doing the best that we can with what we have. I, like you, had milk production issues with both my boys and the “breastfeeding guilt” was ALWAYS hanging over my head by the “nursing experts” who insist that if you “just pump more”, your body will eventually provide the supply that you need. Not always true, and not always in the best interest of a family’s needs. Okay, done now :). Hope you guys are doing great!!!

  2. Well said, Lynley. The media is all about pitting women, mothers, against each other, when, really, we’re all just trying to make it through the choices we make for our families. Thanks for your thoughts on this issue.

  3. I think the fact she breastfeeds her 3 yr. old is perfectly fine and her personal choice…What I don’t find perfectly fine is the exploitation of her 3 yr. old. This last week in the news and media is begging our Lord and savior to come quickly!!!

  4. Hi Lynley. I enjoyed catching up on your blog. It was great seeing you at the book fair! Blessings, Laura

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