No, really. Are you? Time magazine would really like to know.
Although I’m sure their concern is absolutely genuine.
Or not. I couldn’t force myself to read the actual article to find out. The cover itself was enough to put me off. Was it the picture of a young mother nursing her three year old son? Nope, hardly batted an eye. (Okay, that’s not quite true, but more on that later).
I was more put off by their absolutely inflammatory headline. “Are you MOM ENOUGH?” So glad they made sure those last two words were all caps, bolded, and in red…lest anybody miss them. You all know my thoughts on “mommy wars” and how I feel that they’re mostly manufactured pieces of crap that prey on already present mother’s guilt and insecurity. Time, apparently deciding that they didn’t want to be outdone by the New York Times, created this cover not to ignite an actual discussion of the challenges facing mothers, but rather to continue to promote in-fighting and judgment among mothers.
And really…what’s ENOUGH? Who created this mythological yard stick with which to measure a mother’s capabilities? (Do I even need to get into how messed up it is that we will never ever see a magazine cover that screams “Are You DAD ENOUGH?“). All I can imagine is some new mother picking up a copy of this magazine in a waiting room somewhere and flipping through it, all the while wondering if she’s good enough. All those little worries and fears she’s had floating through her head as she takes on this new role in her life are now amplified as she reads through wondering if she’s somehow messing up her child by not nursing him at all or nursing him too long.
There is NO winner in this sick game that magazines, newspapers and websites are playing here. Covers and articles like these are not simply reporting the facts, they’re further pushing the divide between mothers, and I’m over it. I was over it a while ago, but this just pushed me over the edge. The fact that magazines feel that covers with headlines like this are acceptable only shows how ingrained the notion of “mommy wars” is in our society and that it’s going to take a hell of a lot of work until we’re at a place where people realize – they don’t really exist. Well, they wouldn’t exist if corporations and news outlets stopped preying on already existing guilt and feelings of inadequacy. They also wouldn’t exist if we had better policies and support networks in place to help parents, but that’s a whole other issue.
This is not about Attachment Parenting versus mainstream parenting and which is “better” for your kid, or which makes you a “better” mother. This is about promoting more panic-inducing faux debate and pitting women against women – all in the name of sales and contrived controversy.
And while I’m mentioning contrived controversy – let’s talk about that picture. I have absolutely nothing against extended nursing. In fact, I nursed EZ until he was 3. However, I DO have a problem with a magazine that makes a calculated decision to use an absolutely staged photograph to represent a bigger ideal. I don’t think Time chose that photo in hopes of showing an accurate depiction of AP, or even extended nursing – that wasn’t their goal. Their goal is to sell covers & get people talking. Mission accomplished.
What’s upsetting is that they had a number of wonderful other photos to choose from that showed extended nursing. Yet none were as controversial as the one that ended up on the cover.
Listen, I get it – nursing a toddler can be tricky business, and you do need to sometimes rely on acrobatics to get things done, but for the most part? Extended nursing looks just like…nursing.
With Mother’s Day right around the corner, it pains me that cover stories like this one takes away from the real issues facing mothers (I know, I feel like a broken record too). Yes, we’re all aware that there are different styles of parenting. Yes, we’re all aware that within parenting in general there are certainly parents that go to the “extreme” and are “holier-than-thou.” But for the majority of parents? They’re less concerned with whether you practice co-sleeping than if they have adequate health insurance for themselves and their children. They’re more worried about whether they can get enough maternity or paternity leave to stay home with their child than whether you’re using cloth diapers. They’re more worried more about whether they can take enough paid sick leave from work than if you nurse your child until 6 months, 1 year, or even 3.
So, instead of worrying whether you’re “MOM ENOUGH” – let’s start putting the focus and pressure where it belongs: on legislation, on policy, and on community support systems that can better help all of us be the parents we want to be…which truly, should be enough.