Time magazine probably didn't start, but it certainly seems to have some interest in perpetuating, the Mom Wars. The cover from two weeks ago featured a mother breastfeeding her four-year-old and asked its mother-readers, "Are You Mom Enough?" It was generally regarded as a shocking cover, but I have an ostensibly unrelated axiom that might actually apply to the Time cover: Any girl who thinks she's pretty isn't. Any magazine cover that thinks it's shocking isn't? I don't know. Maybe.
It's not shocking to me that there exists a mother who breastfeeds her four-year-old. It wouldn't shock me to learn that there are a dozen such mothers, or a few dozen, or hundreds of dozens. And if thousands of dozens of mothers breastfed their four-year-olds it wouldn't be shocking because it'd just be semi-common instead. It wouldn't be like seeing a Toyota, but it’d be like seeing a Smart Car—a Smart Car that has teeth and plays tee-ball and wears sneakers and breastfeeds. Truly, though: it doesn't shock me, and I'm not even sure I find it weird. Someone once said (or wrote, I don't remember), "Nothing human disgusts me, unless it's violent or unkind."
I've learned from reading articles and blogs that some mothers have decided to rise above the pettiness of the Mom Wars: most non-combatants identify as isolationists, but this mother is just sanctimoniously all-embracing, having a "whatever floats your parental boat" kind of attitude, barring violence and unkindness, and in instances of either I'm less likely to condemn the mother than to simply cry over the child.
I'm generally judgmental and opinionated (I'm a vegetarian because it's morally right; I'm pro-choice, more so now than before becoming a mother; if you're rich I doubt you deserve to stay that way; I think too many gay teens died before Obama decided to support the community to which they never got to truly belong, and it breaks my heart), and I'd like to fight in the Mom Wars. It seems like a plausible hobby for me to pursue: I spend my days mothering—I might as well make my mothering habits into a rigid dogma and proselytize accordingly. What else am I going to do? Laundry? When Graham was three months old I hit his head on the doorframe as we left the house to walk to the mailbox after having earlier that same day lost my grip on the elastic bottom of his pajamas, sending the cloth smacking onto his thigh: he cried both times. And Graham is, because of me, an utterly co-dependent sleeper: he NEVER naps alone and he ALWAYS spends at least part of the night next to us in bed. And of course, as I've whined about before, I never produced breastmilk, which is the single biggest tragedy of my clearly not-too-tragic life. I've heard mothers remark that they get dirty looks when they breastfeed in public, and I've felt dirtily looked upon for formula feeding. What can we do? It seems emotionally slutty to claim that every mother does her best, so instead I'll say that every mother fucks up at least a little. That has to be true. But even if that's true, the Mom Wars victor (victress?) will be she who fucks up the least. And that's me. I'm the victress. Game over.