Time magazine cover is exactly why it is so confusing to be a Latina mom in the US
Attachment parenting, or "parenting by book" as my mother likes to say, is dominating the news right now. One, because regardless of how you feel about a woman's right to breastfeed, it is shocking to see the look, and size, of the little boy on the Time magazine cover and two, because for a cover about motherhood in America, the story inside is largely about a male doctor, Dr. Bill Sears.
Dr. Sears encourages moms to wear their babies in slings, co-sleep and breastfeed until, well, I don't know, maybe forever. Wait, isn't being forced to raise a child this way exactly why our parents and grandparents came to this country?
Read more ¿Qué más? TIME magazine breastfeeding cover shows why attachment parenting is NOT for me
I don't know about you but all the stories I grew up hearing about co-sleeping and long term breastfeeding were about the poverty that sent our immigrant parents to look for a better life in this county. Co-sleeping? Yes but in large part because there was no room or money for cribs. Wearing your baby in a sling? Well yeah, how else were you going to get anything done or get anywhere since, again, no money for strollers or no strollers to be had. Cloth diapers and making your own baby food--it was cheaper.
And the long-term breastfeeding. This is tricky for people and really does feed into how you were raised. When you are the first generation child of an immigrant--any kind of immigrant, not just Latinos--the pressure to succeed, the pressure to make all the sacrifices your parents made for you worth it, is tremendous. As the first person in my family to get a bachelor's degree and be a "professional" I can tell you, any time I came close to an attachment parenting technique, my mother flipped out on me: "Why would you do that--I didn't have a choice, you do?"
And this is the whole point--mothering in this country should be about having a choice, not being asked by Time magazine if you are "mother enough" based off a book by a male doctor, who will never suffer the infections in his breasts that come with long-term breastfeeding.
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My grandmother, who was raising her children at a different time, when there wasn't formula, sold her breast milk to make money. Yes, people did that. She also almost died from infection because she was breastfeeding for so long. And since we are on the topic, how exactly does Dr. Sears think all the women who are "mother enough" are keeping their children fed and covered by health insurance? Oh, right, since the dad isn't strapped to the baby, he can do it. Not sure about Dr. Sears' economic reality, but that just isn't the case for most people. Both parents have to work to make ends meet.
It is just another moment where being Latina in this country means you are surrounded by incredible mixed messages. In this case, I am going with my mother and grandmother and exercising the choices they didn't have. And I am pretty sure that makes me plenty mother enough.
What do you think about the cover? Tell us in the comments below?
Image via Time magazine