Editor's note: Jill Adams is a professional writer based in Fort Wayne.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a breastfeeding advocate.
I wholeheartedly subscribe to the health benefits, bonding opportunities and even the cost savings of the practice.
Having said all of that, I will be the first to admit that breastfeeding isn't necessarily the easiest thing I've ever done. It takes diligence, sacrifice and enormous amounts of patience. Succinctly: It is an outstanding example of what motherhood entails.
So, when I saw the Time magazine cover of a young mother nursing her son, my immediate response was to be impressed. Breastfeeding has been a controversial topic, particularly when it gets into “extended breastfeeding” ages. I couldn't help but admire the mother who wasn't afraid to reveal her practice, and the magazine's willingness to feature it.
And then, I started to think harder about what I was looking at.
First, as a breastfeeding mother, I can say with absolute certainty that I have never done so with my child standing on a chair. My perception of the message: The child is too old to breastfeed.
This may be the opinion of some, but for many others, they would reference the studies that demonstrate that extended breastfeeding has numerous benefits. Beyond that, it is a personal choice that should be respected, not exploited.
As my ire rose, my eyes shifted to the headline.
“Are You Mom Enough?” it asked.
I frowned deeply. To me, that was a loaded question. However, since I can occasionally be a little analytical (just a little), I decided to gauge the issue with one of my fellow breastfeeding mommies.
“What do you think about the Time cover?” I asked her.
“There was no truth in that cover,” she responded. “It seemed to only propel the misguided, uneducated judgments that already exist out there.”
I couldn't have said it better myself. To me, that cover seemed only a mechanism to pass judgment on extended breastfeeding, to pit mother against mother and to lay the foundation for insecurities in women all over the world. From my vantage point, that is a problem.
In close to a decade of motherhood, I've had the honor of meeting a variety of moms. Some breastfeed, some don't. Some breastfeed for three months, others do it for three years. But regardless of their personal preference, they have all been terrific mothers who are completely devoted to their children.
I respect their choices just as they respect mine. We do not cultivate an atmosphere of judgment amongst ourselves; and we don't want a magazine to do it for us.
“Are You Mom Enough?”
If I were to answer on behalf of the mothers I know, I would offer a resounding “YES!”
These are the women who either work tirelessly in the home or in the workplace for 10-12 hours a day, and then they muster the energy to make dinner, help with homework, handle bath time and read bedtime stories.
They are the people who have learned to function on nominal amounts of sleep, and still manage to hit the ground running in the morning to get everyone where they need to be — and then handle all the functions that keep their families' lives flourishing. They are the people who worry about budgets, clip coupons and sacrifice their own needs for their kids' wants.
Breastfeeding — while something I enthusiastically endorse — is one facet in the spectrum of what it means to be a mother. So, are these women mom enough?
Absolutely. And I would challenge anyone who said any different.