The new Time article and accompanying photo has, of course, instigated a lot of shock and response. There was a reason they chose to pose the pic like that rather than how a mother would normally nurse her child...if she were to nurse her child...which she doesn't have to. Some people came out of the gates running on the issue. Others remained quiet and/or semi-disinterested in the argument. My favorite reaction was from those who took a beat and then responded: Why is it a competition?
It made me think about another entry I made regarding how some women react to other women's weight loss. It is natural to not always feel supportive...it usually stems from a feeling of self doubt. Maybe a little guilt, maybe envy...regardless, it stems from a negative feeling and no one wants to have negative feelings. No one wants to be less than supportive. Not really.
I find it interesting that in history, women mattered little in what was known as the grand scheme of things. We were to be the woman behind the man, raising the babies, happy at home. Happy making a roast. Not making a Time magazine cover. It is perhaps rooted in our genetic make up to succeed at doing this caring, raising, feeding, whether we feel it or not. It was what our species' gender was to do. The goal. And you must keep up with the Jones' while doing it. That has changed a great deal (well, we all still try to keep up with that DAMN Jones family). We can now vote and wear red at our weddings if we want to. We can be working moms even if the income isn't necessary. We can be the woman behind the woman or the woman with a great spouse standing behind her. My guess is that article prickled most women just the same. It drew a line in the sand- which side are you on?
Why are there sides, again?
I was a nurser. It wasn't the "natural" choice for me. I found nothing about it natural at first. Once I got the hang of it- fine. Yes. I will do this. I will do this until I don't anymore. It is a sworn method of losing the baby weight (YES, that WAS a driving factor for me after gaining 7xs my baby's weight.) OK. Doing this. There were definite times that I loved it. There were definite times I didn't love it at all. After the 5th bite of my nip I was like, SEE YA! But then I had more kids and I felt I had to nurse. Had trapped myself into it. I didn't want the Thanksgiving table to erupt in 20 years with "WHY didn't you nurse me as long as you did her???" Chairs scratching back against the wood floor. Napkins thrown down over half finished plates as one or 2 of my kids stormed out. Yes. Pregnancy hormones did a number on me and that is what I saw. No, I didn't always feel trapped. But I did sometimes. And when I didn't feel trapped, I was quite blissed at moments! I had boobs! But seriously....
(I did. I had boobs)
In the whole struggle and debate with myself of how long to nurse my husband just shrugged. "Stop now.....(insert a rant of mine).... OK, stop next month to make it even.....(insert a counter rant from my previous rant)...OK, don't nurse the next one..." WHY wasn't he so TORN UP like I was about this?!?!?!? He just kept reassuring me I was a great mom. Oh the pressure.
What pressure you ask? I have no idea. In my little bubble world of family and gurgled milk smiles, there was no pressure. I wish I had seen that. It was when I stepped outside the bubble- on the the playground. On the TV. In the articles (I finally trashed my Parents subscription and upped the $$ for some People). Why do I need any more pressure? I have to lose weight, clean my house, find teething gel with flax and whey for my baby's gums, buy organic cloth diapers, keep my garden looking nice (once I found the garden), make the healthiest meals, binge eat in the basement while "doing laundry", slug wine as soon as the last nursing is done for the night, run the shower and jump in as soon as the baby wakes so my husband has to go to him/her...busy busy busy.
Just like how weight comes up now at every friend gathering, it used to be weight and nursing that came up. And I would see the look on my friends' faces who went with formula when I said I nursed. Many would launch into the reasons they chose not to nurse. I always said "whatever works! A happy mom is a happy baby!" Which is fact. (Unless happy mom only exists in the basement with all the binge eating and slugs of wine...) Some of the launchings of why they didn't breast feed would be seeeeeeping with guilt that I so wished wasn't there. Others would punch me in the face with how breast feeding was not for them with a disgusted look that I assumed they didn't mean to give me, but thanks ever so. I wanted to shout! I wanted to climb the dinosaur slide and shout "People! We are remembering to feed them! That is awesome enough!!"
And that is what it comes down to. That is awesome enough. YOU are awesome enough. And you, still in the maternity pants- YOU are awesome enough. And you, who were skeeved by the idea of nursing- YOU are awesome enough. You, who nursed until your child stopped, regardless of age- YOU are awesome enough. You, who still has the baby weight while filling out your baby's Kindergarten registration sheet are awesome enough (and DAMN you look good filling those sheets out.) You who never lets your child sleep in your bed- Rock on. You who has a family bed- Do it up! You who chews and pushes food into your baby's mou......
You who loves your child more than your own life- regardless of whether they bore you or excite you or annoy you or propel you....YOU are Awesome.