I’m sure that most of us have seen the controversial TIME Magazine cover by now. The child nursing is obviously not an infant (he’s almost four), the mom is a “hottie,” and the title of the article just pisses a lot of moms off by implying that if you don’t nurse your toddler you’re not mom enough.
I should start by saying that I don’t do attachment parenting. Some of the other blog mamas you meet here do, but I don’t. I babywear to survive and to grocery shop, but my children have both cried and I avoid cosleeping as much as I can. It still happens, but I like to starfish on the bed and pull the covers up to my neck, so those non-cosleeping moments are nearly as precious as the snuggles. I do breastfeed and worked like hell to make it to six months without formula. I’m confident that we will make it to my next goal of 12 months, any major hurdles notwithstanding.
Which brings me to the next point. Why does anyone care if a mom chooses to breastfeed her kids past a year? Ok, that’s harsh of me. I judge other people’s actions too, we all do, but here’s the thing. Extended breastfeeding is biologically normal. It isn’t child abuse. People who think breastfeeding a toddler is akin to child molestation are apparently incapable of seeing feeding babies (and toddlers) as a separate thing from our culture’s obsession with breasts as sexual playthings. Breasts can totally function as sexual playthings AND as baby feeders. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The only reason we see breasts as sexual is because our culture says they are. Biologically, they have nothing to do with sex, but somehow they have become fascinating to our society.
On the other hand, why does anyone care if a mom DOESN’T breastfeed her children past a year? This idea that only women who ARE MOM ENOUGH will breastfeed their preschoolers before they go play hide and seek with the neighborhood kids makes my hackles rise. I don’t know how long I will breastfeed my children. I plan on weaning sometime after their first birthday, but who knows for sure. What I do know is that the idea that co-sleeping, babywearing, and breastfeeding for a day, a year, or six years, doesn’t make you any more mom than the next lady. It’s like Xza’s post on comparing bumps and babies and why it doesn’t work. The same holds true here. I want you all to be the best moms that you can possibly be. If that means that you have to work away from home, use formula, shop at Walmart, disposable diaper, circumcise your kid, vaccinate, use Johnson and Johnson’s soap or WHATEVER, do that.
What binds us all together (or should) is that we nurture our children. We love them. We want the best for them. Breastfeeding doesn’t make me a better mom than you. It makes me the best mom I can be. Just like getting my babies to sleep in a crib helps me to be the best mom I can be and incidentally helps me to be a better wife too. We are all different, but we all love our children, don’t we? We all want them to grow up to be strong, independent, caring, loving, and happy.
We all judge. I know we do. I cringe when I see newborns, hours old, getting bottles of formula in the hospital, but that might be because it is so important to me that my children are breastfed. I immediately wonder how moms can choose to not even try to breastfeed or pump at least some colostrum for their child. But the thing is, it’s not my business. So here’s my advice. Keep it to yourself. Bite your tongue (unless it involves a child’s safety). This blog focuses on natural parenting methods, but I think it’s important to remember that just because we choose a path for our families doesn’t mean that we are on the higher road than a different family. We are on a different road – one that feels right for us. Obviously it’s important to me to do the things I do, for a variety of reasons, but we all have different pressures and goals and priorities. And that is fine.
Let’s focus on our commonalities. Let’s support moms who nurture their babies, who want the best for them, and who love them unconditionally. That’s something that we should all be “mom enough” to do.