Time Magazine released their latest issue today and unveiled a provocative cover that features a hot, blond mom standing with her boob exposed and her dumbstruck three-year-old suckling at it.
Without reading the story and based on the headline, you'd think it would be about that beaten-to-death "Mommy Wars" topic that rears its head every 25 minutes (and I've written about more than once). But it's not. It's actually a profile of Dr. Bill Sears, the 72-year-old doctor and author who began writing books 20 years ago that say parents must wear their babies as an appendage at all times, sleep with their babies lest they feel abandoned for 8 hours, breast-feed for at least one year to even be considered a mom, and pretty much arm your children with zero independence, no self-soothing skills and ensure that they need mommy and daddy for ev-er-y-thing until they at least 15. He even warns that that babies who cry too much — even those who are left to "cry it out" for short periods at night as they learn to go to sleep on their own — could suffer permanent brain damage, leading to a lower IQ, behavioral problems and more. No, seriously!
But my own opinions aside, I learned about the Time cover only secondary to a segment that aired on this morning's Morning Joe (below), during which Managing Editor Rick Stengel of Time Magazine appeared, most likely to promote the new issue, but also to be on the receiving end of a host and a guest, both of whom have vaginas, about the potentially gratuitous boob shot it portrays and the message that the headline, "Are you mom enough?" sends. I heard about it from my boss at work who saw the segment and said she thought of me as she is aware that I sometimes struggle with being a good full-time employee and being the type of mom my girls deserve. She too is a mom who works hard, and undoubtedly has stuggled with the same sometime feelings of guilt - both about kids and work - and has encouraged me to work hard but not to miss those moments with my kids that can't be recovered. I think about her advice often as I decide whether I can be spared at work for a few hours to chaperone a field trip or attend a religious service on a friday morning.
The opinion that moms must be all-mom-all-the-time in order to be a successful parent, along with Stengel's smug attitude about the cover, lit me a fire just hot enough to bother writing this post. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of breast-feeding, I'm a fan of bottle feeding, hell, I'm just a fan of feeding your child using whatever method ensures nourishment. I've said it before, I don't judge how other parents parent, so long as a child is not put in harm's way.
What I'm not a fan of, is slinging mud at both sides just to see who screams louder. And you know, this cover, regardless of what's inside of it, will prompt countless conversations, blog posts, tweets, status updates, Pins, etc about who is the mightiest parent of them all. Is it the stay-at-home-mom who wore her baby until her back broke, nursed till baby was enrolled in kindergarten, and snuggled baby and (all previous kids) in the "family bed" forcing daddy to lock himself in the bathroom with nudie magazines and a sock? Or is it the parents who kept baby beside them until they decided it was time for his/her own room, nurse or bottle fed or combined the two till it was time, encouraged their kids to walk, talk, and eat at their own pace, and wore them once in a while just to get dinner on the table in a timely manner?
Really, who cares. That's so not the point for me. If you watch the segment below, the two points that do resonate for me are:
1) According to Stengel, the image on the cover "represents the attachment between mother and child." There is SO MUCH WRONG with this statement that it's crazy. According to Stengel, if you don't have a kid hanging off your boob, you have failed at bonding with your kid.
Loving that this comes from a MAN. I guess to complement this view, Stengel sees no way for dads to bond as strongly with their children, since they have no boobs. I mean, how could they? And if you're a mom who didn't nurse then obviously your bond with your kid is far less than if you had. I mean, obv.
2) The hosts brought up a great point - if you're a dad who leaves work early to go cheer on your kid in little league you are a hero. But if you're a mom who needs to cut out early to take little Junior to the pediatrician? Well, that's coming outta your vacation time. And you can be sure that your promotion just moved a little further south, Mom.
Oh, the double-standards that abound in our modern, post-feminist, tech-savvy, contemporary society continue to astound. Personally, I feel lucky to have found a place of employment filled with managers who are moms and get that even though I'm not at the top of the food chain, my kids sometimes take priority, even between the hours of 8:30am and 5:30pm. Lucky me, but it's cover pieces like this that send a message to women that screams if you don't sell your soul to your children, you are not worthy of having any.
And that, my friends, couldn't be further from the truth.