A Little Mothers’ Day Controversy for You


I won’t lie. When I first opened the link to the Time’s cover yesterday I let out a dramatic wide-eyed gasp. I then showed anyone who cared to look and enjoyed their reactions which were mostly startled looks of confusion and bewilderment. “What… wait, what am I looking at?”  The story itself was almost lost as the cover image made the rounds through Twitter and Facebook and very quickly, the news blogs.  I read through some of the points of the story, which seemed to be aboutAttachment Parenting- a parenting method either created or endorsed by Dr. Bill Sears – which made this even more confusing to me. What did the picture have to do with any of this?

As explained by Time’s managing editor Rick Stengell, the picture was meant to grab attention, and be a conversation starter (read: GO VIRAL). The photographer Martin Schoeller explains too that his choice to stand the child on the chair was intentional to make him seem older and taller. I’m sure Jamie Lynne Grumet doesn’t actually nurse her son this way in real life, it was just for the photo shoot (“Stand on this chair, put mommy’s booby in your mouth… good! Now look at me….).

Only a few days ago, I saw a woman on the subway, with her infant nestled in her baby carrier as she asked for money in a sing-song drone. The baby latched on, and seemed to be hanging from her breast, while she was totally hands free holding a cup in one hand, and grabbing the train pole with the other. It made me think of something a friend said years ago: “These aren’t mine any more, they’re just milk machines now.” For the proponents of such a special, intimate bonding experience, your argument gets lost when you sit shirt down and wide-legged in the middle of a food court with your kid using his free hand to play games on the iPad.  In 2012, is your little one going to be that much smarter than mine because yours nursed?

There is no controversy around carrying your baby in a sling, or letting her sleep beside you in the bed. It barely warrants discussion.  There really isn’t even much controversy around breastfeeding outside of some people do it, some people don’t, and some people don’t want to see your nips while buying a picture frame at target. Every child and every mom is different, so what works for me, may not work the same for you. That’s it. The “controversy” was deliberately manufactured as a marketing effort, by touching on a point that advocates want to speak about, and shadowing a more important issue that was deemed a “downer.”

With all of the viral videos, and masses of websites dedicated to guiding women through conception, pregnancy, birth and yes, even breastfeeding. For some reason, we’d rather not talk about mothers who struggle to conceive, or suffer through a difficult pregnancy, and even lose their life in childbirth. Christy Turlington’s call to support these mother’s on Mothers’ Day with silence, or in ANY way you can, was deemed controversial.  But why? While we gripe about MSNBC blurring out the mouth of the boy in the camouflage shorts having his dinner, albeit staged, we absolutely have to remember what an extreme privilege it is to be given the opportunity to have this experience, in our home, in the super market, or on the subway. So many women can’t, and are either forced to, willing to, or suddenly have to give up everything just for the chance to be a mother. It’s my very first Mothers’ Day this year, but I still want to help give as much attention to Every Mother Counts’ Mothers’ Day initiative as Time received in their initiative to sell their magazine.  Share the Every Mother Counts’ film as a gift to all of your mommy friends on Mothers’ Day.

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