Friday, May 11, 2012

Musing on the Time Cover and Attachment Parenting

Everyone else is, so I guess it's time to blog my bit as well (Bridge? Why that one looks quite lovely to jump from!). I've been posting other bloggers' articles all day (thinking I wouldn't want/need to write this) and I think I'll start with linking to some of my favorites (just because you aren't here doesn't mean I didn't love your article--it might just mean I haven't had a chance to read it yet!):

First, the interview with the cover model

An interview with my friend, fellow (better) bloggess and one of the other mothers who was in the photo shoot

Her post on Huffpost.

Another interview with said friend:

An article by Daniél at Three House Wives

An anthropologist's take on the issue.

This article by Phil Giannotti on Attachment Parenting.

This post was originally a facebook status before being expanded, by the wonderful Lindsay!

This photo, taken by The Heady Housewife, shows that the cover image is a kind of optical illusion, making the boy look far older than he is. Her son in this picture is younger than two years old:

Tales From A Kitchen Witch shows that Time perpetuates a sizist notion of beauty:

A response to the title by hobomama.

What about the Daddy Wars? Charlie (awesome lady I'm proud to know) writes.

Interview with Mayim Bialik, one of my favorite attached celebrity moms:

And a response on FB via photos that I enjoyed (which is where the cat picture at the top came from as well):
Now, the article was supposedly on Attachment Parenting. I don't know, as due to their tactics, I have no interest in buying the magazine and supporting the fuel they've added to the "Mommy Wars" that simply should not exist. Instead, it's all become about breastfeeding and specifically, full-term (also known as 'extended', but I don't like that term as it implies that it is abnormal when it is the biological norm) nursing because of the cover.

So, people are talking. Some of it is good, honest curiosity. Like the majority of moms, I had no intention of nursing a three year old, much less a four year old! My initial plan was to nurse for a year or so, then give my toddler pumped milk in a sippy until she was two. Ha! First, I don't respond well to the pump, so it's from the tap or almost none at all. I thought it would be weird to nurse someone who could talk about it. Then I got the first, "Mmm, ice cream!" and all of that went away (I was eventually informed that the other produced fruity milk while the ice cream breast tasted like various confections).

Like Dionna said (and I've said and many other mothers have said), you don't wake up one day and have a two year old (well, you do, but that kidlet doesn't look any different than she did the day before or the week or month before). It seems strange, looking down at a twelve month old and knowing that some people think that's too old to nurse. That's a baby! I didn't even notice a difference in nursing a one year old versus a six month old, or an eighteen month old versus an eight month old.
My opinions slowly changed as my baby aged and I became more comfortable with nursing (I once thought I wouldn't be able to bear to do it at all), being a mother and the biology and science of it all. As I became better educated, was more exposed to other nursing mothers and watched my children grow, I knew that all that I thought I'd 'known' before just wasn't so. At least, not for me and my family.

We practice child-led weaning. From solid introduction (where the baby feeds herself based on signs of readiness) to the end of nursing, I follow many cues. With Lilly, the final indication that our relationship was ending was her losing her latch. She couldn't get milk and I had an aversion to nursing her. We talked about it and she stopped. It was more mutual than child-led (Naomi weaned on her own a few months later--I kept offering and she just slowly stopped). 
From baby
to toddler
to our last nursing photo, when she was 4
(Sadly, I don't have any photos of Naomi nursing after she turned two--I had camera issues during that time and was busy writing a book and gestating Katarina)

What are the benefits of nursing a toddler or preschooler? Much the same as nursing a baby, only to different degrees. Nutrients in milk becomes more concentrated as Mom's body senses the child's increasing needs and becomes extra loaded during natural weaning, preparing the child to be on his own, immunologically and nutritionally. It's not full nutrition anymore, but more like a dose of vitamins with immunity information in the stem cells. It's still comforting, reconnecting and contrary to popular old wives' tales of the day: it encourages healthy independence. There has been no upper age limit found on the benefits of nursing--they continue stacking. You can read more here.
The age children reach independence (not true independence, of course, as for that, you have to be able to hold down a job, pay bills, etc. -- you certainly can't expect independence from someone who can't wipe their own posterior!) depends on the child. Their personality plays a lot in it, but studies have shown that nurture is also very important. A child whose needs are consistently met is more confident and secure in their independence. They also may reach it sooner (but I think that has more to do with temperament--a clingy baby is likely to be a clingier child regardless of nurturing). I have two very independent little girls and I do believe my parenting, which nurtured attachment and respect has a lot to do with that, particularly with my oldest.

As for Attachment Parenting--what is it? Well, it's about creating an environment for your baby that supports healthy attachment (hence the name). It is the 7 Baby B's, for starters. But that's just a rough guideline, not some set of rules. A mother who cannot nurse can still easily practice attachment parenting. As can parents who do not feel comfortable having baby in bed with them (cosleeping in a crib is a wonderful second choice!). Also, mothers who cannot handle the strain of babywearing on their body, for whatever reason. It's not a competition. It's not a club. It's simply based on the most natural ways to care for a baby that supports the health (physiological and psychological) of an infant, toddler, etc. 

Technically, full-term nursing is not even a part of attachment parenting! It's a part of Natural Parenting, which is complimentary, but not the same thing. Cloth diapering, elimination communication, baby led solids/weaning, etc. are all Natural Parenting and not AP--they are lumped together because they are agreeable. You can read more about what AP is not here.

I am so sad to see that people are flocking to denigrate parents who are simply trying to follow their instincts and do what they feel is right for their family. I am sad that the "Mommy Wars" even exist or that so many people seem so quick to join the ranks and take up arms. I hope that people can put aside their prejudices and try to use this as a learning experience instead of falling into cultural xenophobia.

We need our sisterhood back, as mothers. We need to remember that which connects us all as mothers: love. 

1 comment:

  1. Love it! Especially that first graphic, I have to say it cracked me up.


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