Breastfeeding: Moms' Choice, Not Time Magazine's
The lifecycle of motherhood offers a wonderful gift about a decade in: the longer you are a mom, the easier motherhood gets.
Sure, I’ve heard the adage that little kids equal little problems - like what diapers to buy and whether to wash a pacifier when it falls in the dirt. Bigger kids equal bigger problems, like explaining how you slip on a condom and why it is wrong to cheat on the SATs. But mentally at least, I am an infinitely more placid, wiser mom now that I’m 15 years into this crazy motherhood gig.
Take Time Magazine’s explosive cover article about breastfeeding. The glossy white cover prominently displays a beautiful skinny mom sticking her boob into the mouth of an almost-four-year old boy. The abrasive headline asks “Are You Mom Enough?”
The cover was blatantly, brazenly designed to push as many mommy hot buttons as possible. The subject could not be more titillating (sorry), guilt-inducing, and sure to grab our attention and make us feel badly whether we are breastfeeding or not.
First, of course, the subject matter: Breast-feeding is an intimate, personal, individual decision that the American public and our media have decided to commandeer and judge. You feel badly if you don’t breastfeed, even though not all moms want to breastfeed and not all moms can breastfeed. But you are also in trouble if you do breastfeed, because you spend half your waking moments trying to find the lactation room at work, worrying about leaking through your breast pads, or covering up your nipples on the park bench so the old ladies walking by don’t glare at you and the old men don’t try to sneak a peek.
Second, the timing. This is Time Magazine’s Mother’s Day issue. Happy Mother’s Day, honey! Don’t you feel SO MUCH BETTER about yourself now?
Onto the visuals. The slim mom in skinny jeans. Ouch! My hips haven’t been that slick since before I hit puberty. And of course Cover Mom is blonde, with envy-enducing Marcia Brady stick straight hair. Couldn’t the powers-that-be at Time find a woman with a cute potbelly, love handles and wiry carrot curls from a really bad perm?
The words: the “mom enough” taunt serves as a bullfighter’s red cape, waving wildly in the mom competition arena, just to make sure we all felt an increase in our blood pressure, no matter whether we work or stay at home (or both).
When I was a new mom in 1997, trying to get through my 10-hour workday at Johnson & Johnson with my boobs gently leaking every time I thought I heard a baby cry, this magazine cover would have made me insane. I would have screamed. Ranted. Condemned the male editor who made the choice to inflame the mommy wars and undermine the sisterhood of women. I would have grabbed my kid from his overpriced daycare center, gone home and cried myself to sleep over the unfairness of it all.