I’m late to the party on the TIME magazine cover because, for one thing, I’ve been busy trying to figure out how to suck my thumb…
…and for another, I wasn’t going to blog about it at all. Frankly I’m a little hard up for topics as most of the internal composing that I normally do has been pushed out by preoccupation with a couple of ongoing dramas, one that I will not blog about (sorry), one that I will but not just yet. So, oh well, might as well weigh in.
Everyone has seen the TIME cover (fewer have read the article – I haven’t) so I won’t even bother to link. But if the visually jarring image of a sexy mom and breastfeeding toddler on a chair didn’t get you, the confrontational headline “Are You Mom Enough?” probably did. At least one blogger that I know of insisted that the fact that so many were talking about this magazine cover indicated that there was a real conversation to be had there.
I disagree – which was why I wasn’t going to respond at all. Once we all got past “have you seen this?” the overwhelming response from the moms I know was more or less a collective eyeroll. In one Facebook group after another, women agreed that this was a total nontroversy. Over the weekend I went to a La Leche League meeting and someone brought the magazine to see if people wanted to discuss it, but no one did. Even though this was a perfect target demographic – breastfeeding mothers, some of whom I know breastfed into the preschool years – this supposedly shocking photo failed to stir up a single minute of conversation.
It seems like women are just tired of taking the bait. To me the fact that the TIME cover went viral is simply an indicator that people who make magazine covers are good at what they do. We’re only human, so images and headlines designed to get a rise out of us often do. And the art of judging other mothers on various parenting issues is not dying yet. But today’s mothers are media savvy – there’s a bit of a fool me once, fool me twice feeling this time.
This was really the most, or maybe the only, aspect of the “Are You Mom Enough?” media blitz that interested me – that the response was a giant WHATEVER from the moms of the nation. Maybe we’re starting to reintegrate breastfeeding into the culture to the point that it’s just not that hot a topic anymore. Maybe we have bigger things to worry about now – were the Mommy Wars a product of an economically prosperous time? Maybe other culture wars have taken the place of the Mommy Wars – marriage rights, birth control, reinvigorated abortion debates? Maybe we just have media fatigue and are sick of being bombarded with controversy. Maybe the Mommy Wars really are over, I’m not sure.
I definitely have that “who cares?” feeling this time around, though. I do have bigger things to worry about than whether some lady breastfeeds her kid on a chair, in a boat, with a goat, in a house with a mouse or any other way she chooses. The question “Are You Mom Enough?” is so blatantly keyed to play on my insecurities that I can hardly muster a raised eyebrow. TIME can’t beat me in my own game of constantly questioning whether I’m doing a good job – I INVENTED that game.
It all just kind of leaves me wondering what is next for Mom Culture in this country. There must be some other perpetual argument on the horizon, but I don’t think we’ve found it yet.