And what did you think of the Cover of Time Magazine?

I know I am getting this out under the wire, as the sun sets into the sky, but Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there. It’s the hardest job in the world and you deserved every minute of pampering, every bite of that breakfast in bed you got today.

And, you are mom enough, even if you didn’t breastfeed your child until the age of four or five.

Time Magazine has had some pretty controversial covers around Mother’s Day.  I can recall one year a crying toddler hanging onto the toned, stocking and heeled leg of a presumably working mom with the headline something to the affect of “Is Motherhood Ruining Your Career?” I can’t seem to locate it, so if anyone can recall and locate the link to this article, please send it my way.

On another cover in 2004, Time Magazine did an about face, covering the other side of the coin by featuring a piece called  The Case for Staying Home.

Now, this week’s cover about attachment parenting caught my eye (well, my eyes nearly popped out of my skull) when it was posted by a friend on Facebook.   You must have seen this cover, the one with the almost four year old boy bellying up to the booby bar by using a chair, mother and son both with their eyes focused not on each other but on the camera lens.

I have yet to read this article about attachment parenting, but I did take the quiz to ask how much an attachment parent I am, or was, when my children were infants and I scored a 50 percent. I guess this is because I answered that yes, my babies did sleep in our  bedroom and our bed, but didn’t leave room to elaborate “only sometimes and only because I was too exhausted to carry baby back to crib after he fell asleep at 3 am after nursing.’

But this photo, and the controversy that is swirling around it, made me think of the days I breastfed my children, particularly my oldest. And how this image is a perversion of the emotions I experienced when I fed my babies this way. When they were – little babies.

When my oldest child, now 15, was born, I stayed home with her for three months. In those three months, I breastfed almost exclusively. It wasn’t easy and for any mom who has  chosen to feed her baby this way, you know it takes some time and practice for you and baby to get in synch.

After the initial frustration of learning how to breastfeed, nursing with my firstborn was a special bonding time, a quiet time, a time that actually forces new, exhausted mothers to sit down and be still. Not only does breastfeeding give new mothers a well-deserved opportunity to put her feet up, it also reduces one’s risk of breast cancer and helps a new mom lose that baby weight. A win-win situation.

Three months into being a mom, I went back to work, commuting three days  a week to my job in Manhattan. But, because I wanted to be supermom, I still wanted to give my baby (and me) all the benefits of breastfeeding.

So, off my daughter went to a loving home-based daycare. And off I went to work, toting a breastpump on the  train and through Penn Station and Midtown Manhattan.

Now, working in an office with twenty somethings who spent half their income on rent and the other on a bar tab, I was the old married lady with a baby at age 29. Definitely an oddity  in the office.

I needed to pump at work at least 2 times  a day. I also worked in a cube. But my co-workers were very supportive and my boss, a father of three, made sure that I had access to an empty office or conference room whenever I needed to pump.

As a master multi tasker, I made sure I was still productive during my pump “breaks.”  I got adept at pumping and checking my email and with the mute button, I could still sit and listen in on conference calls and monitor my client’s press interviews.

Not that pumping did not have its pitfalls.  Because, although I had access to my co-workers offices, none of the offices had doors that locked.

So, one day, even though I hung my PRIVACY PLEASE sign on the door, even though I shouted “PLEASE DON’T COME IN I NEED PRIVACY,” this did not stop one young man of about 23 from entering his bosses’ ofiice, my nursing station de la jour, and getting the shock of his life.

I don’t know what freaked him out more – the noise of the pump or the sight of, well…..

“OH MY GOD! ” he shouted.  “WHAT IS THAT?? WHAT ARE YOU DOING???”

I was calm. ‘I told you not to come in,” I said.  “I’m making food for my baby and I need my privacy, please close the door.”

The poor guy. He was far more embarassed than I. For as long as I worked there, he could never again look me in the eye.

Yes, there are times, whether one is a working, nursing mom, or when a crying baby needs to breasfeed, that a mom will have to nurse in public. When my first was born, my doula, or mother’s helper, not only taught and encouraged me to breastfeed, she also taught me how to cover up. Because  although I know breastfeeding is completely healthy and natural, I also didn’t feel like exposing myself to the world. And, any nursing mother will tell you that nursing goes far more easier when mom and baby can find a calm quiet place away from the public.

Although pediatricians recommend that nursing a baby for 1 or even three years is natural, and in third world countries breast feeding is a necessity to stave off infant and child mortality, the call of when is a  “normal”  time to stop breastfeeding is up to the individual mother.

As far as my babies, once they tasted solid foods and became too distracted to nurse by the world around them, and for me, once their gummy smiles gave way to their first teeth, we both decided that our special mommy-baby time was over.

So, whether you breastfed your baby for one month or one year or three, whether you went back to work full time or stayed home and let your baby sleep in your bed, you are mom enough. Motherhood is not a competition. Nor should breastfeeding be shown in the exploitive way it did to sell some magazines.


About stacylynngittleman

I have been a reporter and public relations professional for over 30 years, specializing in profile features and investigative longform writing. During my career I've profiled WWII Honor Flight Veterans, artists and musicians and have written on topics that range from environmental and gun control issues to Jewish culture. Click around on my writing samples plus read my blog on my personal life raising three kids over 27 years and three cities.

4 responses to “And what did you think of the Cover of Time Magazine?”

  1. Main Street Musings Blog says :

    Enjoyed your take on an important topic.


  2. muddledmom says :

    Good post. You made some good points and I agree, it should not be done to sell magazines.


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