This Week’s Cover of TIME Magazine (photo credit: Time)
I’m sure by now some of you have scooped your jaws off the floor and are wondering who in their right mind would volunteer to take this picture for the whole world to see? Perhaps it’s not shocking at all for some of you to view an almost 4 year-old boy sucking on his mother’s breast. Or maybe you’re totally disgusted. No matter how you feel about this photo and what it represents, I’m grateful for it and I’ll tell you why.
My intention here is not to engage in a debate about whether or not one should breastfeed their children or for how long. Like so many issues concerning women these days, I believe everything should be about CHOICE. Though I am personally an advocate of nursing, as I breastfed both of my daughters (even nursing one while I was pregnant with the other!) I would never judge, condemn or insult a mom who chooses not to breasfeed. If I wanted to, I could devote this entire blog to espousing the nutritional, immunological and emotional benefits of breasfeeding, which have certainly been scientifically proven by now. However, to me, there is something of far greater importance at the center of this supposed controversial magazine cover and story: another opportunity for women to bash one another instead of support one another.
Nothing could be more divisive than publishing this exact cover at this exact moment in time. And certainly the editors of TIME are more than aware of this, as it will inevitably incite another debate between women in this country…and no doubt we will take the bait. But oh how I wish we wouldn’t! The time is well beyond due for us as women to stop taking sides against one another. What one mother chooses to do for her family isn’t any of our business, no matter how strongly we may feel about it one way or another. I am sooo tired of these ridiculous debates over who is breastfeeding and for how long and where they are doing it etc. Wake-up women! Who cares? If someone wants to nurse their child on a park bench in the middle of a public playground then GET OVER IT. And if someone chooses to give their baby formula from day one in the hospital then GET OVER IT!
We will only continue to harm ourselves and future generations of women (like our daughters!) and move backwards if we let these non-issues steal the focus away from genuine issues of concern. Too many non-issues already divide us thanks to inaccurate religious and political hyperbole. There are way more important things to discuss and improve on in this country (the only country, by the way, that even has a problem with breastfeeding). Ladies, enough already! If the woman on the cover wants to whip-out her nips ’til her son is in grade school then it’s her CHOICE! I don’t want other women judging me for the choices I make on behalf of my children and we shouldn’t do the same to others.
If you don’t like it, look away! If you support it, great! The point is, it shouldn’t matter to YOU at all. This isn’t your child on the cover and those aren’t your breasts. No one is making you do this or deciding you shouldn’t either. Breastfeeding is up to the individual and who the hell are we to judge another individual? Please, moms, don’t fall prey to this insatiable trap. This week’s cover of TIME will undoubtedly spark ugliness and bring out the worst public debate on breastfeeding and attachment parenting we’ve seen yet. This is what they’re counting on! Let’s not fall for it this time. Let’s stand proud and united and tell the rest of the country that despite our differences of opinion, we won’t get sucked into another unproductive war of words that seeks to separate women further instead of uniting them.
As moms we all just want what’s best for our children and we each have the right to decide what that is and what works specifically for our families. And every single family is unique. This, more than anything, is what I learned from reading Mayim Bialik’s recently published book on attachment parenting, Beyond the Sling. Do I agree with a lot of the choices she’s making for her family? Not necessarily. Would I make those same choices for my family? Probably not. BUT it is her choice. And that’s my very point. Her book along with the TIME cover are creating quite a stir out there and it’s ashame, as there shouldn’t be anything sensational about a mother’s choices on behalf of her own family.
Let’s show the world that we’re not entering another meaningless, polarizing debate that distracts us from what really matters, like how 1.9 million children in this country go hungry every single day. That is worth talking about. That is worth focusing on And maybe, just maybe, before you judge a woman who you feel is being innappropriate by breastfeeding her child whom you feel is too old, stop and consider that she might be giving that child the only food she can provide!