I must admit that my first reaction to the cover of this magazine was, "I don't get it. What's the problem?" My nanny then pointed out to me that the child is "quite old," to which I slowly replied, "Huh. I guess he's probably four-ish."
This cover and the title of the related story "Are You Mom Enough" is causing more of a stir than Alicia Silverstone's premastication video blog.
The article is about attachment parenting and Dr. Sears - the man who defined it. Key components of attachment parenting include (among other things) co-sleeping, breastfeeding, letting your child dictate its schedule and the like.
You can take the TIME quiz on parenting styles here for free if you are wondering where you fall on the attachment parenting spectrum.
Questions swirling about the blogosphere fall largely into the category of, "What is TIME trying to do?" and "Has TIME gone too far?"
Shock and awe aside, the article and its provocative title/photo combo illuminates a heightened sense of parenting in our culture these days. And it makes sense, as a wave of "natural parenting" has washed over us in the last decade.
Breastfeeding is back in vogue - to the point that we have a secondary market for human milk. Organic food has become more widely available and less expensive. The BPA scare boosted the sale of glass baby bottles and spurred the elmination of its use. Baby wearing is all the rage. Throngs of children are not properly vaccinated, either timely or at all, due to fear and mystery surrounding autism.
The list goes on.
In the wake of the women's liberation movement, the main devisive issue for moms was whether or not to work outside the home. The debate pitted the working mom against the stay-at-home mom and many an Oprah-esque argument ensued.
It was so much simpler then, when one side felt it damaging to leave children without mom for more than a few hours and the other felt that children need to see their moms do more than just take care of them.
I really do believe that we Americans are culturally enlightened enough to get past our own jealousies and insecurities to see the positives and drawbacks inherent in either situation. We now have the SAHM (Stay At Home Mom); the WoMo (Working Mom); the WAHM (Work At Home Mom) and seemingly no apology from any party as to the label.
With progress comes new challenges. And, as we open up the idea of "natural" motherhood we rely on "mother's intuition" in ways that, frankly, piss off our pediatricians. Maybe we shouldn't believe everything we're told. Maybe we shouldn't trust the system as much as we do.
With rapid exchange of information in these times, we've seen that the system doesn't always work. Is controlled breathing all I need to get me through childbirth? Can I have a glass of wine? What's in that formula? What's in that vaccine? If the risk of SIDS is really higher when baby sleeps alone? What hormones were fed to that cow? Does the sugar in juice really cause obesity and eat your brain?
The motherhood playing field has shifted dramatically and it's more devisive than ever. It's become the game of mothers judging each other for doing specific things that will ostensibly harm their children in some way. For me, this article is less about Dr. Sears, and more about jumpstarting that dormant conversation.
You know ... the one I'm having right now.
Moms, in honor of our upcoming day of motherly celebration, let's all relax. Being a mom is a tough job and we shouldn't judge each other for the choices we make.
I take the un-apologetic approach to parenting. We do what works for us and the kids always come first. Here's our parenting style in a nutshell:
The girls have a routine. They behave better when they know what's coming next. Our nanny is better at keeping the routine than Ryan and I.
Mairin comes in our bed between midnight and two am. She still nurses at night at 15 months. We eat as well as we can. We try different foods. If we don't like it, we need to try it again later. We drink juice on occasion. We have dessert.
We have rules and strive to be orderly, but our house gets messy. A lot. In the name of projects and art and more projects, we get messy.
We don't tolerate meaness. We allow for self-expression and understand that we need to choose our battles and try not to make a big deal out of too many things.
We have Disney movies and princess stuff and sports stuff and instruments and try to maintain a balance. We don't say things are "boy things" or "girl things". We have dance parties and movie nights.
We always say "I love you" and never NEVER EVER take each other for granted.
So take that Dr. Sears, Time magazine and defiant breastfeeding cover mom. You can't define my parenting style in such strict terms. Even if you are just trying to sell some magazines.