The catchphrase going around the internet this past week was "Are you Mom enough?", thanks to the release of the latest issue of Time Magazine, the cover of which featured a mother nursing her 3 year old.
Are you "Mom Enough" to do this, the cover asks? Mom enough to nurse your child past the "accepted" 6 mos - 1 year timeframe? Are you "dedicated enough to your child"? ""Attached enough"?
I hate this magazine cover and controversy it has stirred up.
I nursed both my babies to the one year mark. It was important to me to do that, it came easily most of the time, and I so so so enjoyed it. I am very "pro - breastfeeding". I am also a believer in Attachment parenting.
But because I didn't nurse them for longer than that, does that mean I'm not "mom enough"? not "attached" enough?
Who are these people to say?
My mom never nursed my brother or I at all. We are healthy, well adjusted citizens who have contributed to society and made a difference in the lives of others. I am a University graduate, my brother a college graduate. My brother has literally saved another man's life and I was featured in Today's Parent Magazine, not once, but twice. Our mother didn't nurse us, but she raised us right. On August 21 she drove for an hour, then parked her van in Saltford and walked 3 km, mostly uphill, to rescue my children from the aftereffects of an F3 tornado that destroyed their home. She then took them out of this ravaged town and kept them safe for 6 days while Jeff and I tried to pick up the peices.
She never breastfed Mike or I.
But isn't she "Mom Enough"?
I have more friends than I can count who never breastfed their babies, for a multitude of reasons.
Wonderful, caring, dedicated, loving mothers who would and do go to the ends of the Earth for their children everyday. I am very "pro-breastfeeding" but would never ever judge their decision not to nurse their babies, or to quit nursing early on.
Because that judging, that insinuation that my way of doing it is better than their way, is what is wrong with society. Is why so many moms feel inferior, that they aren't "good enough". That they are failing their children. That their children won't be as smart/healthy/well adjusted as their friends' children.
Its not just breastfeeding. Its anything to do with parenting. You can name a dozen different examples; Midwife vs OB. Catholic school vs Public school. Immunizations vs no immunizations. Only child vs House full of siblings. Working mom vs Stay at Home mom. The list goes on and on.
When we focus on how long a mother did or didn't breasfeed, when we focus on whether or not she only feeds them organic food, when we focus on whether or not she lets them play video games and watch TV at a certain age...and when we judge her decisions, against her own....that's when we perpetuate that idea that she isn't "Good Enough".
That she isn't "Mom Enough" because she isn't doing it "right", as defined by someone else who knows nothing about her or her situation.
You don't even have to read the Time magazine article. I didn't. The cover does enough to draw lines in the sand and get your defences up. And that's my point. I didn't even read the article, the cover did enough damage to upset people make them feel inferior. Even attachment parenting experts disagree with the message the cover conveys.
Am I "Mom Enough?"
By whose standards?
I have supported and guided my children through the aftereffects of a tornado. Through losing their home, their sense of safety, their innocence.
I sit on the floor in my daughter's bedroom, painting toenails while discussing boys and who wanted to dance with who at the dance.
I read the same story to my son 847 times a day because he likes it.
I answer questions about how babies get into mommies' tummies.
In the same breath I answer questions about why a bad man and woman would take an 8 yr old girl from her school, kidnap, rape and kill her and then act as if they didn't and try to get away with it.
I answer the questions "What does 'sexual assault' mean?' and "How did they kill her?"
I then turn around the next day and allow my child to walk to and from school, just as that little girl's mother did. Every single day I worry about the same fate.
And every single day I carry on as if all of this is no big deal. Just comes with the territiory. "Part of being a mom". As if the real life situations going on around us don't cripple us with fear and make us want to put our children into bubbles where we can watch them 24/7 to ensure they are safe.
I nursed my children, yes. For more than 1 year? No. I know mothers who didn't nurse their babies one day who are a whole lot better at this parenting thing than I am.
Am I "Mom Enough?"
You're damned right I am.
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