A Mother’s Day Wish

Thanks, TIME Magazine, for doing your best to pit mothers against each other.

Ridiculous.

I don’t even want to grace this ridiculous cover with any more attention, but I’m sure you’ve already seen it anyway–the preschool-aged kid on the stepladder sucking at his (gorgeous, thin, blond) mother’s nipple.  Yeah, that’s going to start a useful dialogue.

Some mothers breastfeed.  Some don’t.  I did with each kid for about a year.  I have friends who nursed their kids for longer, friends who did it for only a few weeks, friends who pumped and gave their kids breast milk in a bottle, friends who used formula, and friends who I have no idea what they did because it’s their OWN FUCKING BUSINESS.

Sorry.  Forgive my language.  I’m just pissed off at TIME Magazine.

Even with all this variety, I didn’t know a single person who nursed her kid on a stepladder, which might make a cynical person think that the editors of TIME staged the picture to make the image  as unappealing as possible.

Why?

The only possible reason is to be inflammatory.  To create a noxious image of a nursing mother so women who didn’t nurse have a reason to feel superior to women who did, thereby putting nursing mothers in a defensive place where they have to start lashing out and pointing to all the medical evidence that breastfed babies are healthier than bottle-fed babies, thus making the mothers who didn’t nurse even more defensive and eager to return the attack.

Are we having fun yet?

I say we tell those editors to go screw themselves.  I say we smile at mothers who are offering their breast to their babies and smile at the mothers who are offering a bottle.  And like all good mothers, let’s simply ignore TIME’s bad behavior until they realize they’re not getting attention for it and they stop pulling this crap.

I was at the Literary Guild of Orange County’s Festival of Women Authors this weekend, surrounded by the nicest, most well-read and intelligent and just WONDERFUL women I’ve ever met and I felt brave and supported enough to tell a very painful story about a previous speaking engagement.  A woman had pulled me aside after I was done and reamed me out for “being offensive.”  I had used the term “full-time mother” to describe myself, and she said that was an insult to all working mothers, who, despite being at work all day, are just as much mothers as the rest of us.  I was so exhausted after hours of making speeches that I didn’t do the smart thing (i.e. simply say that I meant “stay-at-home mother” and of course didn’t mean to offend anyone) and kept rambling on, trying to defend my use of the term and digging myself in deeper with her.  She made it clear I was a hateful human being. I cried all the way home.

I told this story to the lovely women at my table this weekend, and one of them said, “I know what happened: someone had once made her feel bad about being a working mother and she was carrying that around inside of her and that made her explode against you.  Don’t give it another thought.  We just all have to be kind to each other and let every mother make the choices that are right for her.”

This same woman also traded me a piece of chocolate cake for the fruit-flavored desert I’d been given, so I would have loved her anyway, but this pretty much sealed the deal.

I wish she were an editor at TIME Magazine.  She’s way ahead of all of them.

So my wish this Mother’s Day?  That all of us mothers could be kind to one another, accept that we don’t all need or want to make the same choices when it comes to bringing up our kids, but that as long as the choices are made out of love and commitment and kindness, you can’t really go wrong.

And tell TIME Magazine to go sit in a corner until it can learn to play nicely.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “A Mother’s Day Wish

  1. Deb Z.

    Very well put. I don’t know a mother who has made decisions about nursing, working or what to serve for lunch that didn’t make her choice with love in her heart and her kids’ best interests at the forefront.

    Happy Mother’s Day, Claire!

  2. Claire

    Thanks, Debra, and the same to you!

  3. :)))) Happy Mom’s Day…well said, as always…..

  4. joyce kozol

    you have hit the proverbial nail on it’s proverbial head. thank-you for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate what you do.

  5. As a woman, but not a mom, I think you hit the nail on the head. This was nothing more than a controversial headline to gather more publicity for the magazine. And on the week of Mother’s Day, no less. Time could have chosen to make moms everywhere feel loved, respected and cherished. Maybe they could have written a piece on how motherhood has changed, and yet not changed, through the centuries. They could have examined the future, with regards to laws and policies. They could have offered hope – but instead they went for the graceless attempt to appear like they knew more than everyone else.

  6. Claire

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Nancy–graceless is the perfect word.

  7. Anonymous

    Beautiful, articulate and filled with wisdom. Thanks for putting it in words. I was just thinking it — you wrote it down for all to see. Much appreciated.
    xo
    Nancy

  8. anniesamuels

    Well said, Claire!

  9. Claire

    Thank you for all the nice comments!

  10. Anonymous

    I like your statement about mothers being kind to one another. I also want to say that I think the personal choice of this mom to appear on the cover with her three-year-old is her own business. That is freedom of the press. I think the article really represented well the concept of attachment parenting and showed many good reasons for breastfeeding. This mom on the cover chose to pose for the magazine to represent her viewpoint. She is a proponent of breastfeeding. I also breastfed my three children and loved it. I honestly didn’t feel the article put that down. But, glad for the chance to dialogue about this. Thanks.

  11. I must admit, I did not read the Time piece-the photo told the story. I breast fed my 3 too but not long enough for any one of them to walk up, pull my shirt up and latch on. I don’t think most other mothers do, either. It was meant to entice discussion and gets lots of readers to promote Time Magazine through their ‘sharing’ of the story. This is where journalism has gone-it’s competitive out here and editors do what they think will draw the readers.
    I’m sure they hoped for a fight among us and that’s why I really appreciated Claire’s post. I don’t want to fight. If some moms want to breast feed their kids till they have kids, it’s none of my business. Go for it if that floats your boat.

  12. Claire

    Exactly, Marla–I even saw an interview with the woman on the cover who said that of course she doesn’t breastfeed her son like that, that she cuddles him. So the photo doesn’t represent any kind of truth and that’s what makes me so annoyed with it.

  13. Ann Brown

    And what will your reply say????? “Twas brillig…”

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