You saw the TIME magazine cover in the last 24 hours, right? Me, too. In the midst of 25 patients yesterday, moms and dads weren’t really talking about it in the office. It was in my inbox. But I hear and feel and witness the anxiety/angst we all swim around in every day as we compare parenting styles and essentially swap (pacifier) spit about how best to do this. The monogram of this parenting era is the quest for perfection. The epic win that’s constructed for us is built on prevailing over the rest. It’s not about juggling it all anymore, it’s about being tough enough to do it better than your peers. TIME magazine wants us to contemplate if we’re really “Mom Enough?”
Before you know it, you’ll be 13 decisions down the road wondering why you worried so much about what you did. You’ll care even less about what you called it. Of anything I hear over and over again from parents ahead of me on the road it’s this: “I simply wish I worried less about my choices.”
It’s a mom-eat-mom world right now and the media wants us perpetually navel-staring. Doubt sells magazines, pageviews, and books. I saw moms post opinions on Facebook this morning only to quickly take them down as they got too controversial. We’ll keep questioning ourselves and our decisions as TIME takes a supermodel, airbrushes her body and paints the cover the magazine with a provocative image for Mother’s Day. This article, this cover, this timing–this is the engineering of our age. The dinosaurs once ruled the planet—now it’s the voices online.
Your motherhood, your parenthood, your decisions. You know what? Of course, they’re Mom Enough…
The cover really isn’t really about breast feeding but I’ll bite. In my opinion, the decision regarding what day to stop breast feeding is one that resides between only two people: a child and a mother. As a infant matures and develops coordination, independence, and new autonomy by 1 year of age they are able to self-feed, eat and enjoy solids, and drink from a sippy or regular cup. When this occurs, the necessity for breast feeding diminishes. Yet who am I to dictate the time to stop? As a pediatrician, it’s simply not my job as there isn’t a lot of science defining “the right” deadline. And that’s the exquisite gift that Dr William Sears gave us with attachment parenting. He took the brillance of Dr Spock and pushed a bit farther—he said we could and should attach ourselves to our babies when possible, nurture them with intimacy, and enjoy it.
Yum. I’ll take a bit of that, too.
Trouble is for the working moms and the moms with multiple responsibilities, 100% attachment parenting is challenging, onerous, and fills us with anxiety when we feel we fall short.
The task for all of us then –with any parenting style– is to moderate, to pick and chose the pieces and suggestions we like, and leave the others behind. The real win as mothers and fathers in 2012 may be to find the middle road briskly and then live in it, instead of around it constantly questioning it.
The movement to bully moms or have moms evangelize what they do (like the aim of the TIME cover) is far from helpful. Especially as we plan our weekend to celebrate the most extraordinary gift in our lives: the privilege of becoming a mom.
We don’t have data to suggest any scarring to children who enjoy prolonged breast feeding into their preschool years. The contrary maybe: some breast feeding advocates collect information about nutritional benefits for nursing past 12 months.
Point is: parenting doesn’t have to feel like this. The pulse of our response (whatever yours is) to the image of a gorgeous model nursing her near 4 year-old really isn’t so much about attachment parenting or not, breastfeeding past infancy or not, swaddling or not, peas before carrots or not–the pulse to this cover and the viral mommy war and guilt that ensues is about much more. It’s really about the ongoing construct that the media has created to have us believe that this tension/this discourse/this doubt/this mommy “war” is what parenting should feel like.
Turn off the computer, throw out the books. Enjoy the choices you’ve made and move on. Bear witness to the ultimate luxury of life: the gift of your child.