A Mother's Day Wish

May 13th, 2012

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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