Two weeks ago, Time Magazine sent shockwaves through the internet with their cover of a mom breastfeeding her child. But, this isn’t any ordinary photo. This mom is breastfeeding her almost 4 year old son. And, it’s not the typical photo with child laying tenderly in his mother’s lap. In this photo the boy is standing on a small chair and mom’s pose is one of utmost confidence. Time‘s headline “Are You Mom Enough?” seems to have also stirred moms into a frenzy saying that it’s divisive and asking questions like “What about the Dads?”
While there are inevitably some people appalled at the image and headline, it inspires me. And, I argue, it should inspire you, too.
In a past article, I shared with you that my mom left us when I was 12 and how it was both the best and worst day of my life. In so many things in life, it is not WHAT happens to you, but how you REACT to it.
When I first saw the Time cover, I didn’t think too much about it. I said “Wow! Bold!” It IS a bold photo. One that took guts to pose for and confidence to give permission to print. Then, I closed the picture. Soon I saw it was becoming a frenzy. I’ve read various articles now. One about not being mom enough and not being sucked into the hype. Another one saying all moms should be offended. And, yet another one saying that the cover is outrageous, but the article is anything but extreme. And, Dr. Bill Sears weighed in, too, reminding everyone that Attachment Parenting is not “extreme,” working parents can do it, and he’s hopeful the cover prompted more people to read about Attachment Parenting.
When I think about the Time cover, I have to ask myself “What does one mom on the cover of a magazine have to do with my mothering?” It doesn’t. What is “mom enough” to one person is not to another. I don’t define my mothering as how long I breastfed my kids or whether I did at all. I don’t define my mothering with my bravery (or lack of) having my kid breastfeeding on a cover of a magazine. Sure, I breastfed in public, but I tried to avoid it as much as possible and did it with a cover on. I wasn’t ashamed. I just wasn’t going to be all “out there” with my private moment(s) with my son. Not that anything’s wrong with it (ala Seinfeld).
Listen, I can probably think of 10 things I might do “better” than you when it comes to parenting just like there will be 10 things you do “better.” And, then the next day happens and the thing I did great yesterday, I might suck at today. Good parenting is not any ONE thing you do or don’t do, but everything together and, honestly, there is never going to be some measure of whether it’s “enough” because it is NEVER enough. There will ALWAYS be things you wish you did more of or better. I wish I was more patient that one day. I wish I had stayed up late doing the laundry the other night, so I could take the kids to the zoo today. There are a billion things we might change after the fact. We try to parent perfectly, but there is no perfect parent.
Time’s job is to sell magazines and get you to pick that thing up. In a supermarket with a thousand magazines, why should you pick up theirs? They needed something to get you to open that magazine and read the article and they did just that. I applaud the mom who was on the cover for a) getting breastfeeding out there (whether or not you are pro-breastfeeding, doesn’t it feel good to have a woman’s breast on the cover and not be sexual??), b) being confident enough to do it with a 4 year old (we all want to be confident women, don’t we?), and c) inspire other moms to be confident in their beliefs, too, even if they are different than hers, mine, or yours. It is only “shocking” because our culture does not support extended breastfeeding, but in other cultures, this would not have had the same shock value, if any at all.
You are mom enough. We all are. Because no other mother matters to your baby but you. So, when Time asks you if you’re mom enough, you say DAMN RIGHT! My baby tells me every day in his look, his smile, and with his hugs and kisses.