|Let The War Begin! (Photo credit: dog.happy.art)|
Fourteen years later, the Time magazine cover, "Are you mom enough?", hit a nerve. I struggled to understand what the cover and subsequent flurry of public commentary meant to me. When I was bleary eyed and brain dead from exhaustion the last thing that I needed was public scrutiny and judgement. It felt like that cover photo was landing a blow on breastfeeding in general, not just those who breastfeed past the cute, defenseless time of infancy. I have my own opinions about breastfeeding older children but my biggest theory is that as Americans, we are becoming more and more uncomfortable with lifestyles that promote emotional closeness, reject excessive consumerism, and allow for individuality. It doesn't matter that a large part of the world shares a bed or at least a bedroom with their child(ren), in the U.S. it's suspect. It doesn't matter that children all over the world are able to live with very little resources, in the U.S. our children's greatest gift is to help us stimulate the economy with purchases for "healthy development", "enrichment", and "stimulation". Less is more is heresy.
|Sleeping Angels (Photo credit: Cavalier92)|
So the cover, and the public debate, stirred those early years up for me. My own experience tells me that what I think will be easy or least manageable, frequently becomes a surprising struggle. Other things that I never even planned can come to feel natural. The one thing that remains constant is the love part. There are happy kids who were fed formula and "Ferberized" and there are happy kids who were breastfed and slept in a family bed. The happiness comes from families who are genuinely doing there best to meet their child's unique needs and doing that in love. We don't need to pick sides and label one group of families as "normal" or "ideal" and demonize others. A different style of parenting doesn't need to feel like a challenge to your own. Make the choices that meet the needs of your child, your family, and you. Making choices based on what works or doesn't work for someone else may be a fun debate topic but it's not good for families.