I recently came across the Time magazine cover of a mother nursing her three-year-old, standing son. The caption reads, “Are you Mom enough? Why attachment parenting drives some mothers to extremes-And how Dr. Bill Sear’s became their guru.”
I just feel like there is so very much wrong with this before I even get to the actual article itself.
As a mother, and a breastfeeding mother of an almost two-year-old, I am quite taken aback.
The insinuation here is that you have to be some type of SUPER mom to be able to breastfeed your child past infancy. While, I am more than willing to admit extended breastfeeding can be challenging at times, I would hardly say that you must don a cape and superpower to make it happen. And no mom should be made to feel as if they are less of a good mom for not choosing to be on an extended breastfeeding journey. Just as we are all very different mothers, and our littles are all very different children, it’s only expected that our journeys are all unique. And while I do know who Dr. Sears is, and have read a few of his articles, my decision to breastfeed and/or to continue on an extended breastfeeding journey had nothing to do with him, his research, or any of his publications.
No mom should be made to feel as if they are less of a good mom for not choosing to be on an extended breastfeeding journey.
And what exactly is so extreme about extended breastfeeding? Being able to nourish and comfort my child anytime, anywhere seems natural to me, and seems anything but extreme. To me what seems extreme is making my child go without or wait until we get home to nurse, or weaning him all together when neither of us is ready for that.
What it comes down to pure and simple, is that our society sexualizes the act of breastfeeding. If it involves breasts, it must be inappropriate. And if the child is old enough to walk or talk, how dare you offer them your breast? Now THAT is extreme, and completely inappropriate and unnecessary. While it is somewhat acceptable for women to nurse their infants, our society still expects them to cover up and hide the act itself even if that is anything but comfortable for the mother and baby. And let’s not even broach the idea of a mother nursing her toddler in public, covered or not.
No matter what you believe, women have breasts for one reason and one reason only, to nurse our children. The end. There is nothing wrong, nothing extreme, and nothing inappropriate about this, no matter the age of the child.
Worldwide, breastfeeding well into early childhood is the norm. Most children aren’t weaned until they are over four years old, well exceeding the age of the child on the Time cover. Yet these mother’s aren’t seen as being extreme or SUPER moms, they are just viewed as natural and normal.
It is a very sad day in our country and our society that mothers who take this exact same path are shunned and ostracized. I can only hope that through movements like this, Breastfeeding World, and mothers like us, that we can change this here at home so that our sons and daughters will be able to see the beauty and intimacy in the act and will be free to openly breastfeed their children for as long as they please with no need for labels or scrutiny. I will write for that!
We would love to hear from you, what are your thoughts on extended breastfeeding and they way it our country views it?
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