I read the article and it is not only about breastfeeding but "attachment parenting". Breastfeeding is one aspect of the attachment parenting method and it is obvious why they chose to play up this particular part of it. My friend Quiana recently posted a blog titled "Are you Gullible Enough" which really hit the nail on the head as far as describing what my feelings were about the cover. For weeks I've just been sharing her post and did not want to get into anything here on my blog... but those days are over folks!
Recently, Anderson Cooper had famous moms Rebbecca Romijn and Mayim Bialik on his show to discuss this cover and attachment parenting. I thought his show was very informative and it really brought to light the misconceptions about both sides of the "mommy wars" this cover has sparked. So what is attachment parenting? According to Dr. Sears' website, it is practicing the "7 Bs" -- Birth Bonding, Breastfeeding, Baby-wearing, Bedding Close by, Beware of Baby Trainers and Balance. Sounds simple enough right? Wrong! Moms everywhere are going nuts over this thing called attachment parenting.
Here's what I think -- labels.. I truly hate labels. Why do we as a society feel like we need to label everything and store it neatly in air-tight containers? Especially when it comes to parenting, this is just impossible! I happen to love Dr. Sears' website and it has been an incredibly useful resource for me since I was pregnant with Aiden but by no means do I put myself in the "attachment parenting" category. I am just a mom who tries to follow her instincts and make informed decisions for my son. I read, I research, and at the end of the day I do what I FEEL is right for us. Sometimes, that includes aspects of the attachment parenting method and sometimes it does not.
I recently was having a conversation with someone and she chose to make some ignorant comments and pass some pretty mean judgments about my son. Nothing makes you "see red" as a mother more than when someone is speaking negatively about your child and/or your parenting method. Why do people feel they need to tell moms what they are doing wrong and more importantly, why do they need to make it a competition? You get to raise your kids, and I get to raise mine.
|Yea, that's right I AM Mom Enough!|
That is exactly what TIME magazine did with this cover -- "Are you Mom Enough?" They made it a competition about how to be the better mom and the sad thing is that moms all over the country fell right into that trap. The picture itself is very misleading about breastfeeding a toddler. The way his hands are dropped down to his sides, his facial expression and the awkward position he is standing in do not correctly represent extended breastfeeding in my opinion. I also think that the way the camera is angled, the way he is standing on that stool and even the clothes he is wearing were all intentionally done to make him look even older than he is. He is 3 years old!
For me, I cannot see myself breastfeeding Aiden at 3 years old. My hope is to be completely done with it by his 2nd birthday and that is not because I think it is weird or gross... I simply feel that I selfishly want my boobs back.. I want some freedom, some space and it really is a decision that is all about ME rather than Aiden. And I am OKAY with that. I want to do what is best for him but I will not be a martyr mom either. Sometimes I will do what is best for ME too. Other moms feel just fine with breastfeeding well beyond the 2nd birthday and that is just wonderful in my opinion! There are so many benefits to both mother and baby with extended breastfeeding and if you still think that is crazy than you haven't done enough reading. The longer a mom can breastfeed, the better and baby-led weaning is actually proven to be the more natural, beneficial route. I hope Aiden weans himself but if it doesn't happen by the time he is 2, there will be some "mommy-led" weaning. Ha!
So here's what I REALLY think about the different aspects of attachment parenting:
1) Drug free birth -- Personally, I think it is kind of insane that women put so much pressure on themselves to labor completely free of pain medication. If men were the ones who gave birth this would never be an issue.. they would take the drugs! But us women, we are a different story. I say, if you can have a drug free birth and feel that is right for you, then go for it! But if you (like me) want to get an epidural, then take care of YOU mama! Delivering vaginally was more important to me than going drug free so at 2am when I was in so much and needed sleep, I got that heavenly epidural. I got some much needed shut-eye and in a few hours I was well rested and ready for the 2 hours of pushing (yes, that's right I had to push for 2 hours) it would take to deliver my child. I truly believe that had I not rested, I would have not had the strength and ultimately been taking in for C-section. I AM GLAD I got the epidural and I would do it again.
2) Breastfeeding -- this has truly been the best experience of my life and my proudest accomplishment. It was not easy and there are so many times I wanted to quit. For something so natural, it is also very, very difficult to get the hang of... I really think that every mom should at least try it and really commit for the first several weeks to trying. Breast milk is the ideal food for babies, not man-made formula. Babies find the best possible nourishment and also comfort at the breast. Comfort in my opinion is just as important as nutrition so I do not agree with taking that comfort away from an infant who requires it. We value independence as a society way too much in my opinion. Infants are dependent on their mothers .. toddlers too... and small children... why the rush to make them independent? to make them self-soothe? I truly believe that they will learn that naturally and with time and most importantly at their own pace! Aiden will one day not need me for comfort but I do not think that I need to rush him. 13 months, we are still breastfeeding and I am okay with that.
3) Sleeping arrangements -- Mammals sleep close to one another. This goes again with what I stated above about independence. Every child is different, every child has different needs and the best I can say here is -- follow your instincts. I will not put my child down to sleep and let him cry in a room alone. Does that make him spoiled? Again, if you want to label it then go ahead... but I am confident that if he is nurtured and comforted in the way he needs to be, he will eventually grow to be a strong, independent person. He won't be 18 years old and sleeping with me and Daddy.. co-sleeping facilities breastfeeding and I personally could not do one without the other. Wake up, turn the light on, walk across the hall and breastfeed in the middle of the night? NO WAY.. with co-sleeping I barely need to open my eyes to get feedings done. This arrangement benefits us both.
4) Baby-wearing -- I love wearing Aiden in his Moby wrap.. I love cruising him around in his stroller. I don't think wearing him in a sling constantly is necessary and I certainly put him down when he was newborn. I picked him up, snuggled, him, let him sleep on my chest and all that good stuff but I also put him down. Now that he is walking, he doesn't want to be held period ("Give me freedom!!") and we love that about him. That kid will not be confined! I think the idea of wearing your baby in a sling while doing household chores for example is kind of unnecessary unless of course your baby is hysterical when you put him/her down. Then, I totally get it. Aiden has had moments where he does not want to be put down and rather than let him scream his head off, I will pick him up. I believe in acknowledging his needs and responding to them. It may not be the biggest dilemma in the world but in HIS WORLD it is the biggest thing. I'm going to give that the attention it deserves. I hope I can continue to give him that when he gets made fun of at school, when he doesn't get picked for a team, and when he goes through his first heart break.
5) Gentle Discipline -- we aren't really there yet with discipline because a 13 month old just isn't ready to be disciplined but we are starting to teach him about certain boundaries. I want him to know he is safe and that boundaries are necessary to keep him safe. I want to MODEL good behavior so that things like "saying please and thank you" are second nature to him. I do not play to tell him to "sit down and shut up" nor do I plan to spank him. I do not see how hitting a child teaches him not to hit others and I know for a fact that hitting children leaves emotional wounds that last well into adulthood. I cannot tell you the number of adults I have spoken to, who recount stories of being hit as a child and the pain (emotionally) that is caused them. I realize this is controversial and I am not saying that all spanking is child abuse, but I just know so many people who have told me their story of a "spanking" gone too far. I think adults need to learn to be adults and deal with their frustrations...not expect a child to bear the burden of those frustrations. Discipline is about learning and as Aiden gets older I know we will figure out a gentle form of discipline that works for us.
6) Balance -- Last but not least! I think this is the key point here. Parenting is about learning how to balance... you read and you get advice and you observe the needs of your child and then you put all of that information through a giant filter and work out what is best for YOUR child. No one knows your child better than you and Mrs. Smith from down the block may swear to you that "if you just get him used to it" or "if you keep trying" that your child will adapt and conform to what you want him to do... but YOU as the parent know better. You know your child's personality, you know your own needs, and you know the culture of your family. If your child is a heavy sleeper, then go ahead and take him out for errands while he naps on the go, if your child is a light sleeper, then go ahead and give him a quiet place to sleep. Don't forget about your needs as a mom, don't forget to take some time for yourself and don't worry about what other people think.
No matter what TIME magazine says, or what Dr. Sears says, or what Mrs. Smith from down the block says... YOU ARE MOM ENOUGH and so am I :) So there it is folks.... what I really think about some hot topics in the mommy world lately. Your thoughts/comments are always welcome!