Motherhood is not a Competition.

Via on May 10, 2012
via Time Lightbox

Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing.

I’m a huge advocate for breastfeeding, and for natural and attachment parenting in general.

I agree with most of the moms in the Time article. Breastfeeding is something I’m passionate about and I’m glad I was able to feed my children that way. Breast milk is the perfect food for children under age one, and the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding your child until age two or until mutually satisfying for both mother and child.

Extended Breastfeeding (or EBF if you are into the whole mommy bulletin board scene), helps with brain development, prevents obesity, boosts the immune system and the benefits continue to increase the longer a child breastfeeds. Scientists are finding new ways that children benefit from breastfeeding all the time.

For women, it reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and often helps women with postpartum weight loss (until those last five pounds that stay as long as you’re nursing…but that’s a totally different blog).

A few things you should know:

The choice to breastfeed is a personal one; it doesn’t make you a good mom if you do it, or a bad one if you don’t.

Breastfeeding does not make you more or less of a woman.

Breastfeeding is not remotely sexual, weird or anything negative.

Breastfeeding might change your breasts, but sometimes for the better.

Breastfeeding in public is your right in 45 states.

(Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise).

Supplemental formula feeding does not make you a bad mom (it just might make it harder to keep breastfeeding).

The age at which you stop nursing your child—by his choice or by your own—is not what makes or breaks your value as a parent.

I nursed my daughter until she was 22 months old and I was eight months pregnant with her brother. I nursed my son until he was 21 months old. I needed to be done. It took me another year to not feel guilty that I didn’t give them the same amount. It also took most of that year to get over the guilt of not participating in “Child Led Weaning,” or for the uninformed, letting them decide when it was time to stop.

Even writing this, I get that little knot in my stomach of, “Oh, but I could have done more. I should have done more” and at the same time I know some people will read this and think it’s weird that I breastfed so long.

As mothers, we will always want to give our children more. It’s how they survive. There is a primal drive in us to nourish our children—physically and emotionally.

But what works for one family isn’t what works for all families. What one child needs is not what all children need.

Pretty basic, no?

Then why the hell are we in constant competition with each other?

If you breastfeed too long you are a weirdo, too short and you’re selfish. Damned if you work, damned if you stay home. If you wear your baby you’re a hippie, if you use a stroller…well…I’m pretty sure your child is going to end up with attachment issues. Don’t even get me started on where your children sleep, or whether they fall asleep alone—no matter what you choose to do, someone is bound to think it’s awful and you are scarring your kids for life.

Enough!

photo: Time lightbox

What makes a good mother can’t fit in a Time magazine article.

Good moms nourish their children, and also take care of themselves.

Good moms know that sometimes it’s too hot to have anything but watermelon for dinner.

Good moms let their kids pick out their own clothes even when they end up in an ensemble of Batman pajamas, a tie-dye shirt and rain boots (true story) and they still cringe inwardly and hope no one judges them.

Good moms sometimes yell (but keep trying not to and aren’t afraid to apologize).

Good moms breastfeed for one month, or one year, or four years—or not at all.

 

Good moms sometimes hover too much, or not enough, and they keep trying to get it right.

Good moms aren’t Tiger Moms or Helicopter Moms or any other media invented phenomenon.

Good moms are all of us who care enough about our kids to think about this stuff;

to get the knots in our stomach when we see a news story about a kidnapped child;

to make shadow puppets, play I Spy, make up stories and invent colors;

to dance with their kids to The Ramones in the kitchen and sing into spatula microphones;

to say “no” when we have to, and “yes” as much as we can;

to say “screw you” to the people who want to put “motherhood” into a box and say there’s one right way to do it.

Because there isn’t. Because if you are a mom, and you care enough to read this, to think about it—you’re already “mom enough.”

Happy Mother’s Day—every day.

Like elephant family on Facebook.

 

About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is the strongest girl in the world. She is the love child of a pirate and a roller derby queen. She hails from the second star to the right. Her love of words is boundless, but she knows that many of life’s best moments are completely untranslatable. When she is not writing, you may find her practicing yoga, devouring a book, playing with her children, planting dandelions, or dancing barefoot with her heart on her sleeve. She is madly in love with life and does not know how this story ends; she’s making it up as she goes. Kate is the owner and editor-in-chief of Be You Media Group. She also writes for The Huffington Post, elephant journal, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, Yoganonymous, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. She facilitates writing workshops and retreats throughout North America. Heart Medicine, Kate's book on writing, is now available on Amazon.com You can follow Kate on Facebook and Twitter

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71 Responses to “Motherhood is not a Competition.”

  1. ashleybess says:

    I'm sick of the labels! I think I do most of the "attachment parenting" things but I refuse to use that label. Breastfeeding isn't a badge of honor, it's just the normal, natural way to feed babies. But the "breastfeeding is a personal choice" line chafes me a bit too. True, no one can force you to do it. But the baby should have some say in the matter… and EVERY baby wants to breastfeed. I believe it's a choice that has profound implications for the rest of our child's life in terms of intimacy and nourishment (literal and otherwise). A formula fed baby learns to ignore the signals of his body as his natural sucking impulse leads him to eat way past the point of satiety. When we reach adulthood and (hopefully) become fully conscious of such a pattern we can work to correct it, but it's HARD work (it was for me, anyway). Better to just start out the right way! Of course, a breastfed person can still have food issues, but I think they're much less likely to have such issues than a formula fed person.

    • I know what you're saying. Breastfeeding is awesome, and I do think many women that don't do it have been given bad info or insufficient support.

      I was saying more that the choice is personal—not personal preference. There are many reasons why someone might choose not to breastfeed, or not be able to, and I don't sit in judgement of that. Hard enough walking our own talk—no need to go picking on someone else's choices!

    • Kristen says:

      Thank you…just breastfed for the last time yesterday morning. This made me cry, happy tears :)

    • TommiLynn says:

      Ashley, I get what you're saying about breastfeeding being the natural/normal way of feeding a baby, and I totally agree with the health benefits of breastfeeding – it's almost a no-brainer to me, but I disagree with your comment of formula-fed babies being doomed to a life of over eating and all that comes with it. I was breastfed, my sister was formula-fed, and I'm the one with emotional eating issues, not my sister. Sure, the intimacy forged in breastfeeding is vital to a child's development, but there are so many other factors that support, or breakdown, a child's innate feeling of safety and comfort – far beyond the singular act of breastfeeding.

      • ashleybess says:

        I agree! I was totally not saying that ALL formula-fed babies are doomed to a life of eating issues. However, I do think formula feeding makes it more likely that these issues will exist, and I do believe that three generations of formula feeding has contributed to our country's obesity epidemic. "There are so many other factors that support, or break down, a child's innate feeling of safety and comfort" – TRUE! I agree with all your points. I apologize if I made it sound as though I believe formula feeding "dooms" a child. I know there are situations – adoption, severe prematurity, etc. – where it is simply necessary.

  2. ashleybess says:

    Peace Pilgrim said it best: "Judging others will avail you nothing and injure you spiritually. Only if you can inspire others to judge themselves will anything worthwhile have been accomplished."

  3. Amazing article. Thanks.

    Bob

  4. faye says:

    so kate, 2 posts before yours on FB was from a friend who wrote this: "My neighbor, Emily, ran a 31 hour 100 mile race and breastfeed her baby at the pit stops. That makes my natural birth seem like an afternoon spent frolicking in a meadow." i am sharing this b/c i think it is effing awesome to hear a women doing this. now, do i think i could do this? it shld be noted that i don't run nor have a baby, but that doesn't matter. i, as a human, as a part of this glorious human race and world shall be happy and pleased and inspired by the feats of such people and not compare myself! i shall rejoice in their wondrous actions as well as mine. we are all on our owns paths and this comparison thing we all do is pointless! we are not cookie-cutter cut-outs but beautiful, gorgeous individuals, all doing the best we can with what we got.

  5. @Suri_k8 says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that there is something wrong with moms that breast feed a child that can tie his own shoes ? That magazine cover is disgusting and that poor boy is going to be bullied at school for life….very unfortunate how parents fall for all these ridiculous fads .

    ….reminds me of that freaky scene from game of thrones…nasty.

    • I find it funny that you think this is a "ridiculous fad" when it's what most of the world does—except for the U.S. Granted, in Third World regions where there is less food and clean water available, extended breast feeding might be a life or death situation rather than an educated choice.

      What's new about this is that people are talking about it and women are being educated that there is a wide range of normal here. It's actually much more of a "fad" to feed a child from a bottle (whether it's formula or breast milk). We sexualize breast so much in our culture—this is why we have them.

      The worldwide average age of reported weaning (according to WHO) is around age 4—older than the 3 year old who is pictured here. Nothing nasty about it.

    • Jackie C. says:

      Uh, no. It's our culture's fetishization of the boob that's sick – in many parts of the world, nursing to 4 or 5 is the norm. It's also not only about the milk (although breastmilk is amazing, and there *are* immunological benefits from getting it straight from the tap that aren't replicated by pumping & cup/bottle feeding), it's also about closeness and comfort and bonding and teaching (e.g., 'no pinching') and setting limits (e.g., 'no nursies until bedtime') and many health benefits for mom…

      The only thing that's nasty here is your ignorant and judgmental attitude.

      • @Suri_k8 says:

        Nothing wrong with judging , the reason why this magazine cover is so controversial is because a majority of people find it weird and disgusting …not breastfeeding but breastfeeding a child that doesnt need it anymore . A 4 year old is not a baby anymore.
        What is ignorant is thinking that 4-5 years is the norm …if you look for the average breastfeeding in months per country you will find this:

        14 months (Mexico) , 7 months (Brazil) 21 months (Niger), 27.5 months (Nepal), 18-20 months (rural Thailand), 8.7 months (urban China), 18 months (Cameroon), 22 months (Kenya), 20 months (Nigeria), 28 months (Rwanda) and 19 months (Uganda)—14 months (Philipines) and these are developing countries , in developed countries it is shorter.

        • paul says:

          That list is lifted from http://breastfeedingwithoutbs.blogspot.com/2011/1… who pulled these numbers out of google, claiming anyone could do the same. Following her instructions, the first paper I found was http://www.eurojournals.com/ejsr_40_3_09.pdf which says “everyday between 3000 and 4000 infants die from diarrhoea and acute respiratory infection because of inadequate breast milk given to them (1). UNICEF and WHO recommends that should exclusively breast feed for first 4 to 6 months of life and continue breast feeding together with weaning food up to and beyond second year of life.” (see http://www.unicef.org/nutrition/index_breastfeedi… and http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/ ). The study goes on to describe several factors that lead to early weaning, and besides the mother's discomfort, can be generalized as modernization (which is what I see in BF Without BS's numbers over the "poorness" of the mothers). In other words, BF Without BS's numbers do not historical trends, but modern practices which regardless of their precedence are largely to the detriment of the child.

          The issue shouldn't be "the norm" (or our own icky feelings) but what is healthy for all involved.

          My brief search for historical surveys of breast feeding turned up nothing that wouldn't require a trip to the library and unfortunately my research time is up. :(

          Studies aside, I do not think there is some psychological horror that comes from being comfortable with a mother's body.

        • yogasamurai says:

          Totally agreed. The other side of this issue which isn't being dealt with is "attachment disorder." All sorts of this going on in America. Very debilitating to children, and it can be emotionally crippling for life.

          I have two friends, both women in their late 30s, who pardon the expression, "never got off their mother's tit," largely because their mothers never let them, and these are two very beautiful people – in horrible shape, because their psyche is embedded in their mother = and vice versa.

          I don't think "attachment parenting" necessarily leads to that, but as is so often the case, there are other underlying issues here. Extreme parental narcissism, especially in the mother, can be very hard to detect.

          Every parent who advocates this better have a clear "exit strategy" in mind. Otherwise he/she's a monster in the making, I'm afraid.

        • paul says:

          Here is an article is about hunter-gatherers (which I'm usually very wary about thanks to the weston pricers) but it has a lot of resources. It doesn't mention a weaning time-frame though as it is about on-demand breastfeeding. http://www.parentingscience.com/breastfeeding-on-

  6. @Suri_k8 says:

    Two questions:
    if this is about the benefits of the milk , is it necessary to feed directly from the breast a 4-5 year old? Sippy cups , pumps anyone?
    And , If a mother breast feeds a 6 or 8 year old …when does breast feeding becomes sexual abuse?

    Breastfeeding at 8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxv6R9fUO74

    • I'm sure, like with any aspect of parenting, there are people who misuse this. I think (personal comfort level) elementary school age seems a bit old and that a cup would be the way to go.

      But then. what about a developmentally disabled child who is mentally a young toddler? Would you decide for them? I don't presume to know every situation someone might experience.

      I know that I've had my children say and do things that I never expected. Parenting is not a cookie-cutter sitcom experience, so why jump to "Oh it's so disgusting!" about this when you have no idea why someone might choose it?

      • @Suri_k8 says:

        It is a matter of personal opinion , the woman in the video thinks it is great to breastfeed an 8 y.o child , but the question is , is it really about the child or is that the mother is being selfish and is lacking the capability to detach from her kids.
        People are free to do as they wish but I personally think it is disgusting to see it in a magazine cover….or as a growing trend just because some doctor says it is the right thing to do… I also think that women that breastfeed in public without discretion are unpolite.

        • yogasamurai says:

          There's only one thing worse than coming between a breast-feeding mother and her child. That's coming between a breast-feeding mother and her soapbox! Suri, your commonsense is refreshing. Thank you.

    • ashleybess says:

      The breast is not a sexual object. From a biological standpoint, the exclusive domain of the breast is nourishing a child. It is our culture that has fetishized it as a sexual object. How could breastfeeding be considered sexual abuse? Breastfeeding is designed to be pleasurable for the mother and child but not sexually arousing. It doesn't magically become sexual to a child at a certain age. Personally, I do think that 8 years is too old. I breastfeed my 2.5 year old, however, and will probably allow him to go until four if he wishes. But I do not see how it could possibly constitute sexual abuse.

      And, to reply to your other point, breastfeeding is not just about the benefits of the milk. To me it also contains a spiritual dimension; once out of the womb it is a manifestation of our connection to that Source and a natural extension. Besides that, it's about comfort and intimacy. Forgive me if I can't articulate this side of it that well – it's truly experiential. If someone opposed could momentarily inhabit the body of a mother breastfeeding her toddler or preschooler I believe they would see the beauty and sweetness of it and see the absolute error of labeling it disgusting or perverse.

  7. roxiromero says:

    Thank you for this article….
    I am expecting my first child and am planning to breastfeed, but it is crazy how everyone keeps on telling you "you HAVE to breastfeed" as if it was a decision that was not meant for you to take, but for everyone else around you….

    • Good for you! Whatever you choose, I hope you find a supportive mom-community that will help you. Starting out as a new mom is difficult and wonderful. A strong support system makes a huge difference.

  8. TIZ says:

    thank you for that.

    i had a good mom. if you get the chance, i’d love it if you could read…

    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/05/happy-dead

    like the title of the story, there was more to her than meets the eye.

    thank you.

  9. [...] honor of my mom-hood—and moms everywhere—I searched the internet for the best mom-related quotes that I [...]

  10. MARCY TILD says:

    If motherhood is not a competition, then why do you reply to that article, with this pic? Looks like a competition to see which side is better to me…. Good luck with that.

    • Your comment makes absolutely no sense to me.
      Please explain.
      It appears that you missed the whole essence of Kate's piece.
      Have you actually read it, Marcy, or did you just look at the photos?
      I inquire in all sincerity.

    • Well, two of the pictures are from the article and another is a breastfeeding picture from one of our writers. The whole pro-breastfeeding, but with an emphasis on the fact that there's no one right way/length of time to do it. As Catherine say (thank you, Catherine!) not sure you got the point.

  11. A wonderful article, Kate! I have not read the TIME article, but what a provocative cover! Is there really a competition going on these days between mothers, to see who is more of a mother? Are women judging each other by how long they breastfeed, etc? If this is so, (and I hope it's not widespread), to me this is a testament to how insecure women must feel today, as they step into motherhood. Your article takes the focus OFF the "ideal standards" everyone is preposterously trying too live up to, and puts them back on the beautiful and VERY UNIQUE individual relationships between mothers and their children, where it should be. Mothering is not something you buy a "how to" manual for! You live it minute to minute in spontaneous outpours of intelligence, intuition and love that come from your heart, as you colorfully present in your piece. As a mother of two teenage boys, I couldn't agree more. (And I won't even mention how long I breathed each one, because, ultimately, I did much more than just breathed them!) Thank you! And Happy Mother's Day to you! :))

    • Thank you, Catherine! And happy mother's day to you as well! I find myself in a supportive group of mother friends, but I have seen some of this…not pretty, and not helpful. Have a wonderful day with your sons tomorrow.

  12. yogasamurai says:

    The other thing about this that seems a little strange – or narrow – is the over-emphasis on the breast-feeding?

    As I understand it, affective parenting involves at least two other elements – the extended sleeping in the parental bed, and the "body-wearing" of the child. The idea is that you keep the child connected to you at all times basically.

    Arguing over breast-feeding is one thing. It's the most natural thing in the world, and doing more of it ,longer seems perfectly natural, too. Though this picture is a PR disaster, and so is this woman, I think.

    The other aspects of Affective Parenting? Not so sure. A number of people have suggested that sudden infant death syndrome increases in likelihood if the young child sleeps with the parents, but there are other behavioral and psychological issues involved.

    By the way, where are the fathers and the husbands in all this discussion? Do the women involved even care? People keep saying that in other cultures, all these practices are common and healthy. Sure, and there are extended families in these cultures within which this loving care is bestowed.

    I have to say, that if the child becomes a de facto spouse substitute for an isolated single parent in this setting, possibly serving the unmet emotional needs of the mother for an extended period, there can be very serious trouble ahead indeed.

    • I think you are referring to attachment parenting and not affective parenting? The stats on co-sleeping strongly support the opposite—that it actually can prevent help SIDS because the parent is more aware of the child's breathing. I do remember reading stats about problems with parents co-sleeping while under the influence or on an a couch or similar.

      I know many fathers and husbands who wear their children, co-sleep with their children and support their partner's breastfeeding. My children's father was helpful and supportive with all of these things.

      Obviously your last scenario is a possiblity, and a horrifying one! But I think it's a rare exception and not the rule.

      • yogasamurai says:

        Not rare at all, Kate. Parent-child enmeshment of this kind through over-parenting – largely due to the narcissistic mother – is happening all over America and has been for decades.

        There's an entire psychological literature on this, and has been for decades?

        Like all things in life, balance is probably the key. Most Americans have trouble pursuing the latest fad, be it yoga or attachment parenting, with any semblance of it.

        It's where our culture's at, and irresponsible and exploitative advertising with wacky Playboy models probably doesn't help?

        I guess she's destined to become the Kathryn Budig of the AP cause.

        Maybe EJ could feature her, and your house photographer dude Robert Sturson could shoot her in various yogic breast-feeding poses! :o))))

        • Yes, I would agree that enmeshment is an enormous problem (and the number of teens struggling with eating disorders and other issues would definitely support that). My point was that extended breastfeeding isn't necessarily an indicator of that.

          Balance is the key! Totally…and that was the point of my article. There's no one right way to parent & whether you are "AP" or more hands off, beating up on other people's choices (abusive situations excepted, obvs) helps no one.

          • yogasamurai says:

            I think anyone who supports attachment parenting should probably think seriously about dissociating herself from this particular woman and the Time cover, though. Seriously, even if you don't think the cover's as lurid and as exploitative as I and so many others do, it does your "cause" no good whatsoever. Yes, it creates "buzz," but it's not good buzz in the end.

    • @Suri_k8 says:

      ".. to say, that if the child becomes a de facto spouse substitute for an isolated single parent in this setting, possibly serving the unmet emotional needs of the mother for an extended period, there can be very serious trouble ahead indeed.."
      I ve seen mothers still sleeping with teenagers 13-14 , really , really sad .
      I also find the "let the kid decide when to stop" thing really absurd , Should they decide which shots they should get too?

  13. yogasamurai says:

    Great op-ed on the Time magazine controversy by a Doctor at, of all places, FOX News. The network, which is often unwatchable, just went up a couple of notches in my estimation.

    Maybe instead of deleting my own recent post arguing along the same lines, you will let this one run? After all, censoring published views is a bit more extreme. Not that anything will really stop you guys, I guess.

    Here goes! http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/05/11/time-ma

    TIME MAGAZINE COVER — FORGET THE BREAST – WHAT ABOUT THE BOY?

    By Dr. Keith Abrow

    Jamie Lynn Grumet, the 26-year-old mother featured on the cover of Time magazine breastfeeding her 3-year-old son, has done more this week than become the poster woman for “attachment parenting,” the sometimes laudable movement that advises parents to be physically and emotionally available and responsive to their children. She has shown the limits of such a concept, and the ways in which it can be twisted into a bizarre, contemptible caricature of itself.

    Grumet is a model, and models have to have at least healthy dose of narcissism (television journalists like me, too, by the way). But I fear Grumet has more than what’s healthy.

    Because she thought nothing of becoming far more famous than she ever was or ever would have been by getting naked on the cover of Time using her son as a prop—letting him, in fact, look right into the camera and be completely recognizable while sucking her nipple. He may never be better-known for anything than for being a breastfeeding 3-year-old on the cover of a national magazine.

    Ever.

    When he enters school later in his young life he may be ridiculed for it. And these realities hint at a woman who could (and I have not evaluated her) have very poor boundaries and be willing or likely not only to nurture a child, but to absorb him, deny him his personhood and render him no more than her appendage.

    In short, it is not at all clear who is the “parent” in the Time magazine photograph. Is Grumet responding to real and healthy needs emanating from her son’s psyche, or is he responding to her potentially outsized needs to be the center of attention and the object of desire (if only for warmth). Who, we can legitimately ask, is feeding whom?

    See, Grumet loves being photographed. And she apparently loves having her son breastfeed. And she loves attention. And she’s happy enough to get naked in front of other people (which there may be nothing wrong with—for her). But that may or may not be the case for her 3-year-old boy, which seems not to have mattered to her—at all. And if his will was bent to hers in order to have him suck his mother’s nipple in front of a photographer and makeup artist and art director and all of America, then it stands to reason that his will may be being bent to hers in all sorts of ways—including protracted breastfeeding.

    The truth is that what Time magazine may have unwittingly captured and been party to was a grotesque form of psychological abuse—the parading into public of an intimate moment (intimate for mother and child) at the sole direction of that child’s mother, who didn’t stop to think that her child may not be able at the age of three to know what he thinks about the whole thing, much less to stop it, if he wanted to.

    Grumet has stained the attachment parenting movement by documenting how easily it can go wrong, when used as an excuse for poor boundaries and manipulation.

    In a way, while looking at the Time magazine cover, we are all Grumet’s son and may know something of his possible plight: finding her a compelling and dramatic presence, seduced by her combination of sex appeal and motherhood—unable, in fact, to detach from her.

    Talk about a prescription for psychological disaster.

    This is self-centeredness at its worst, sold as good parenting. And this is an act of media violence against a child, committed by adult journalists who also commandeered his will (as did his mother), for sensation and profit. Rarely do we get such evidence of how wrong parenting can go, how poorly journalists can behave and how slow we can be to recognize ugliness when it is disguised as something beautiful.

    Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team. Dr. Ablow can be reached at info@keithablow.com.

    • @Suri_k8 says:

      Poor kid, well, he could be home schooled …his mother might like that too…I m sorry they censored your first comment , it was spot on …. EJ police? Ridiculous .

      His mother was breastfed until 6 , now we know why she is so f*** up in the head …

      • Wow. The intolerance is mindblowing to me. I'm all for different points of view, but calling people f*cked in the head because they choose something different than you seems a bit ridiculous.

        Know who else was breastfed until he was 3? Michael Jordan. And he's stated that he attributes much of his health to this. There's a wide range of "normal" with all of this.

        By the way, the only comments we delete are either genuine spam (i.e. advertising) or things that are personal attacks on the author. I didn't see it, but I'm assuming Stewart's were neither. Anyone anywhere can flag posts as inappropriate and the system deletes them.

        • @Suri_k8 says:

          I know you are the author of this story but I wasnt replying to you …..I dont get why you took it personally ……Any mother that exposes her child to what she exposed hers deserves to be called that and more…that is my opinion …if you find  the f word too ofensive ….well I cant help you with that  , I ve seen worse things here on EJ…it is not the end of the world ….I have already expressed my opinion about the subject of this story, i have nothing more to say about that  and  I dont have the intention to initiate a debate with you….I do think yogasamurai's comment was a good contribution to the discussion .

        • yogasamurai says:

          I have no specific agenda in mind here, Kate, and I like that you posted this.

          But, in theory, isn't there potentially a big difference between breast-feeding for say, 3 years (the Michael Jordan example you cite) versus 6 years (the example Suri cites) — or 6 years versus 9? Developmentally?

          Is there any research on this? You're the house expert, or one of them, so what would you say?

          It seems like your approach here is, well, whatever a Mother wants is fine, and as long as the child isn't being chained to her breast, then it's fine, too.

          Anyone who suggests otherwise is just a misogynist sexist pig and any woman who complains is intolerant and has probably sold out to the Man.

          Is it really all that simple?

          Isn't there more to an analysis of what's right or wrong for a woman or a mother to do than LEGGO MY EGGO?

          Because that's basically all we seem to hear these days from women who want to do their own thing, and really don't care what anybody else thinks?

          So a whole host of possible issues just get swept under the rug in the name of feminist political correctness.

          • I feel like the comments have gone so far afield from the intent of my blog. It should be fairly obvious from the rest of my writing on the site that I am more focused on true equality than feminism, per se. I could have just as easily written this about "families" and family choices rather than specifically mothers, but the Time article focused on mothers and Mother's Day is this week.

            This isn't about women wanting to do their own thing. The larger point is about humans making the best choices they can for their families—and accepting that there is a wide range of normal and that what works for one is not what works for all.

            It seems like you and Suri_k8 immediately jumped to worst case extreme examples of parenting rather than addressing (or even arguing with) the actual point I was making!

    • paul says:

      Ablow is all about maintaining and reenforcing empty and sterilizing gender-norms, it's why he works for Fox. This op-ed is his fantasy, and is as much about attacking strong family bonds existing outside a male dominant frame as it is about how imaginative narcissist musings can be. Like a "healthy" narcissist, he couches his bullying in kindness, and claims as evidence things he has made up.
      I flipped through the rss and found your deleted comment with your own misogynist (and so too narcissist) musings parelleling Ablow's, as well as this one, "Because it gives Hugh Hefner a huge hard-on? Because he and the models role-play attachment parenting? Just guessing….Maybe I'll call the mansion and see if it's on the Mansion Kink List? If I hear anything, be glad to report back…"
      You've complained about a yoga as a girls club, yet write like you're in a boys club – even while seemingly complaining about boy clubs.
      To the longer comment that was deleted, you say the picture is "profoundly psychologically abusive" or "kiddie porn" or unloving or that her kid was a prop to "the needs of her breast" let alone a "representation of contemporary female narcissism as expressed in this woman's brand of modern motherhood" (yet Ablow's narcissism is ok?), all as if she took and published the picture herself. Men do far worse to men and women than mothers.
      I find your charge that the "yoga devotee" is a narcissist curious, do you have any evidence for this?

      • yogasamurai says:

        10 years suffering through the spiritual "excretion" known as as the modern yoga studio has been quite enough of an education into the pathology of 20-something female narcissism in the yoga world thank you very much.

        This is a very widely held view – by women and men alike. You sound like a newbie. You might come over to Recovering Yogi. The site was founded with this critique in mind. The critique of yogic narcissism has also been at the heart of the debate over Anusara Yoga and its recent demise, which has been a Godsend of sorts.

        As long as you're stalking me, you might as well read what I have had to say on this and related topics for some time. Go the Guardian, the Huffington Post, Counterpunch, the World and I and various other sites. Be glad to walk you through the issues. You seem to need an education.

        • paul says:

          I see now what my confusion was- you use yoga to mean the studio class teaching of postures, exercise and relaxation, and the culture that surrounds it (which seems to be how you know yoga), not yoga as a personal meditative practice. I am a newbie, you are correct, I've never been in a yoga studio class, so I know of this culture only thorough stories on the internet. But even in these stories, the narcissism comes from the few loud voices that seek to dominate any scene they might be in, while others find supportive groups to enjoy with. I think it's good that narcissists find their way to yoga, as it can be a great light to their own actions they might never have given themselves access to.

          And to clarify (as I was suffering conjunctivitis), if your deleted comment was about how icky you thought the picture was, or questioned the benefits of breast feeding, I would not have considered it misogynist. But it was (like Ablow) a declaration that the model was abusing her son, that the child was "exploited for the narcissistic self-gratification of the mother," and that women who breast feed after some (unmentioned) acceptable age do not respect their sons. You wrote, "the fact that none of the female commentators thus far seem to understand how lurid and disturbing this image really is speaks volumes." By "volumes" the reader is expected to believe that because all women replying here or any yoga devotees are narcissists (and by extension most any woman), they can't see their own narcissism. Ablow is a bit more sly, but it is the same idea that women cannot think and must be instructed, which is classic misogyny. Regardless of the sexism, it is as arguable that it is abuse to deny breast milk on-demand, something said to be the practice of hunter-gatherers, alongside learning-as-play, an invitation to acceptance, trust and sharing.

          Victory to Mother!

          • yogasamurai says:

            You misread my comments, I think, but that's okay. And victory to Fathers AND Mothers, Dude. No one holds up more than half the sky, though women seem to have forgotten that of late, and yes they do need to be reminded – not "instructed" – since, well, they do seem so very forgetful. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Rennie Foster says:

    and sometimes, good moms happen to be dads. :)

  15. Esther Liberman EstherLiberman says:

    Just saw this, Kate. What a wonderful article. Amen, I say. Also: why is it so hard for each of us to realize that we are not experts on children or child-rearing, but each an expert on our own child/ren? In other words, why don't we trust our instincts with our own and butt out of other people's choices? What works for me and my kids may not work for anyone else. It seems obvious, and yet…

  16. Ahimsahome says:

    Oh please. As a mother of 4 children and a dedicated breast feeder to each till they were about 2 years old (a little over for two of them) let me tell you something. First the recomended age to breastfeed to by the World Health Association is 2 years and beyond. Would America be a better place if all of our babies were breast fed? Highly likely. The studies back up the major list of reasons why this might be a good thing i.e. higher IQ, healthy childhood/adult body weight, secure attachment, etc. About 74% of babies are breastfed at some point in their babyhood in America. Not as bad as I thought. My children are healthy, happy, secure young adults. I did have to wean 2 of them and the others self weaned. I was just done and when I felt myself resenting it, that was the time I knew it was time to stop. I was 15 when my stepmother had my little sister. She nursed her till she was 6 yeas old. I did think it was a little odd at the time, but today she is an amazing person. She graduated on a full scholarship from Barnard and has traveled the world since she was a young child. At 27 she has visited and served through peace making work in nearly every country in the world. Her mother raised her deeply attached and like my own experience with my children, it helped form her into an extremely secure, brave and stable adult. I personally think that nursing till over a "certain" age is something that takes effort to wrap one's mind around. I think a study on children that have nursed till 4 and over would be intriguing. I have no idea what it would show. There is obviously no nutritional needs at that point if the family is able to secure a healthy diet. I have always thought of extended nursing as "etheric nutrition". One thing that I do know is that in a certain way it is silly to argue when to wean your child as they will forever be nursing on your consciousness.PEACE xo P.S. I'm personally more concerned with parents feeding their children SOY! yuck!

    • "P.S. I'm personally more concerned with parents feeding their children SOY! yuck! "

      Totally!

      Thanks for your thoughts. I hope that the more people are open their experiences, the more extended breastfeeding will be the norm, and that we can lighten up and encourage each other instead of beating up on each other's choices.

  17. 2kidsinmybed says:

    Lovely article, Kate, and so well said. As mothers we need to start supporting each others' choices, not rendering judgement.

  18. Tonda Strohmeyer says:

    A covey of oldsters are writing on the similar place owing to this one, but unconditional is completed in a special passage here. aliment corporal up.

  19. [...] She carted me and my two siblings around from swimming, to tutoring, to ballet, and back again without even a hint of resentment, never asking for anything in return, never expecting any sympathy or thanks. So when my sister and I [...]

  20. [...] I am a mother who is doing her best at the most challenging job on the market. My children are loved, honored, appreciated and well cared for, but I make mistakes constantly. There is nothing that could have prepared me, cautioned me or equipped me with the tools to make it through parenthood without daily bruising to my ego, my heart and my body. [...]

  21. [...] some amazing mums and babies that I chat, cry and celebrate with. We’ve tried to avoid the sense of competition that I’ve heard can insiduously infiltrate mothers’ groups, taking what should be an environment of compassion to one of one-upmanship and [...]

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  25. guest says:

    Agree with most of the article, but let's make a difference between the women that want to breastfeed but cannot for major reasons and those that are too "modern" and busy with their careers to breastfeed and just have a baby to tie the hubby down or for the "happy" family picture.
    Back in the day, breastfeeding was the ONLY way to feed babies, formulas were conceived by greedy opportunist companies wishing to both destroy the natural mom-baby bond and make money off it in the process.
    If we lived like our ancestors moms would have no choice but to take time off to take care of the baby and breastfeed it as long as it needs it.
    Our DE-civilization is far from Nature and its natural roots.
    And let's not talk about the amount of waste and plastic (oil-based) that bottle feeding and disposable diapers create.
    Yes, it's nice to want to be a mother but shouldn't the people that produce offspring care more for the very planet they will leave to their offspring?
    And that care includes being closer to what Nature has prepared our bodies to do.
    It is frustrating that there are too many people having children without really doing anything to contribute to a better planet by being more conscious about the environment and what we as a generation or species are leaving as heritage to future generations.

  26. @Suri_k8 says:

    Couldnt agree more .

  27. yogasamurai says:

    From yesterday's DAILY MAIL in the UK, in an article profiling the mother, Jamie Lynne Grumet:

    "The mother has written on her blog about how much Aram, who will turn four next month, enjoys to be breastfed.

    In one post, a photograph of Aram in the Playboy mansion has been uploaded.

    The picture is captioned with the text: 'I've breastfed Aram at the Playboy mansion. I actually felt it was the most appropriate place on earth to do it.'

    There is no explanation to explain why she believes this."

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2142487

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