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    Derision and Scorn: How Time Dropped the Ball on Attachment Parenting

    What comes to mind when you think attachment parenting?

    Perhaps you envision a young, lithe, white woman, standing in bold contrapposto, staring unapologetically into the camera, her nearly four-year-old perched on a chair, hanging somewhat awkwardly from her one perfectly exposed breast, also staring - though less boldly, and more confusedly - into the same camera?

    It isn't what would come to my mind, nor, likely most parents who practice attachment parenting.

    But, with that very image, accompanied by a purposefully provocational headline and subtext, Time Magazine would like to convey the message that this pose/interaction (whether breastfeeding, breastfeeding an "older child", breastfeeding without cover, or perhaps, simply, a woman staring unabashedly at the viewer) is extreme (which, extreme, it's not. Perhaps, in 1863, when Edouard Manet first shocked the world by painting a bare-breasted woman staring unrepentantly at the viewer, "extreme" might be a suitable description, but in 2012, when sexualized breasts are the advertising norm, no),

    that it represents attachment parenting (which, considering how deliberately unengaged the two are in this photograph, it doesn't), and/or, that breastfeeding is the epitome of being "mom enough" (which, a child fed and clothed - all that's represented without dispute in this image - may be indicative of mom enough, but, I'd argue being a mom - a PARENT - takes far more than open mouth, insert milk; and the last time I checked, parenting wasn't a contest - at least not to anyone other than the media). In other words (through all my parenthesis) Time failed miserably with this cover.

    In truth, the only thing Time managed to do with this photograph, was to present a lovely woman with her cherubic child in an awkwardly stylized pose; slap an outlandish headline on the front which practically screams for people to get up in arms about - take your pick: attachment parenting, nudity, breastfeeding, mommy wars - and sell lots of copies of an otherwise less-than-unbiased and far-less-than thorough news magazine gossip rag.

    Certainly Time wasn't going for normalizing breastfeeding - which, could have served mothers and children everywhere. I say certainly, as, if that HAD been their intent, they would have chosen the alternate photograph for the cover - same mother and child, in a far more natural, comforting pose. With THAT photograph, they could have showed how breastfeeding is as much about nurturing as it is about nutrition, and that gentle, loving touch between mother and child doesn't have to end simply because a child is able to walk, talk, and get themselves dressed. They COULD have chosen an image that didn't reinforce the confounding and insidious public belief that breastfeeding beyond infancy, or exposing breasts for breastfeeding at all, is somehow sexual. They could have taken the road less travelled. Instead, they followed the path of least resistance: sex and shock value sells.

    Look, Time wasn't attempting to bring any real understanding of attachment parenting. If THAT had been their intent, certainly such martyr-esque language as was used to describe one featured attached parent would've been left behind in editing. Case in point:

    "[Joanne & her partner] ended much of their social life when they became parents. There are no date nights. Joanne doesn't get away for afternoons to have lunch with her girlfriends. In fact, the only time Joanne has ever left either of her children in anyone else's care was when she was in labor with her second child.... the child-rearing philosophy Joanne subscribes to, It's called attachment parenting ... a style that's more about parental devotion and sacrifice than about raising self-sufficient kids. ... Attachment-parenting dogma also says that every baby's whimper is a plea for help and that no infant should ever be left to cry."

    In fact, the accompanying article (The Man Who Remade Motherhood) was positively fraught with blatently obvious stereotypes, judgments, and purposeful overstatements:

    "…for months, Beauregard sat on the couch in her Denver-area living room, nursing her infant from sunup to sundown"

    (ALL that BREASTFEEDING - can you even IMAGINE? Oh, the OPPRESSION!) - and -

    "So is attachment parenting a misogynist plot to take women out of the workplace and put them back in the home full time?"

    (yes, yes, responding with empathy and gentleness to your infant is a "misogynist plot". But wait, where does it say only women may attachment parent, or that women must not work, or must breastfeed in order to attachment parent? That's right, nowhere. One wonders, after reading this article, if the author did any research but for the most cursory Google search on "Attachment Parenting" before writing.)

    I can't help but believe Time's sole intent was pure derision and scorn of an already beleaguered and misunderstood method of parenting.

    I praise Jamie Lynne Grumet, Dionna Ford, Jessica Cary, and Melinda Larson for taking such a brave step towards bringing greater understanding and acceptance to attachment parenting and extended breastfeeding. In all, it's terribly sad that Time missed a grand opportunity to present to its wide audience a nurturing, loving, gentle way of relating to children. By miring breastfeeding and attachment parenting in phony controversy and manufactured scandal, they really dropped the ball.

    Posted: May 11 2012, 22:31 by kelly | Comments (10) RSS comment feed |
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    LOST: The Questions of the Universe... Unanswered. Bummer.


    Over the last few months, I decided to catch up on the last two seasons of the television show LOST. Adam & I had stopped watching after the close of season 4; feeling a bit, well… lost. Ahem. The story was starting to feel contrived; the characters predictable, and it was unlikely that a real resolution was on the horizon. The key resolution, of course, being a reveal of what the island ACTUALLY was, and WHY everyone was on it.

    It was frustrating. But, because I've never liked leaving a story undone (I've been known to trudge through a book that I dislike just because I started it and, well, you never know… it COULD have an amazing ending!), AND because running indoors in cold weather can be BORING, I decided I could set up my laptop on my treadmill, and slog through the last 35 episodes - multitasking for the win!


    <Now, here's where you want to stop reading if you haven't watched the whole series, and you're planning on it someday.>


    Now, once I got back into the story, it really wasn't slogging, as I'd feared it might be. Almost right away, I that familiar enticement of science fiction and the unknown that drew me into the series in the first place; and the emphasis on mythology and religion in the last two seasons proved particularly intriguing. Taken together those elements made for more thinking, less watch-checking in the last two seasons then the previous couple. And to top it off, the introduction of flash-sideways(es) which were some of the best moments of LOST. That said, the (unnecessary) repetition of "trust me" and "follow me" themes got a bit tiresome. I couldn't help but picture Jack Bauer of 24. Over. and Over again. Of course, when taken in the context of the finale, that particular broken record makes sense:  Light, dark. Good, evil. Which path are you going to choose; who/what are going to follow or believe - in life, death, or the hereafter… trust, choice, follow, believe - or not. But still; it wore on me at times.


    My assumption for several seasons was that the inhabitants of the island were dead, and perhaps in a sort of purgatory - earning their redemption or being offered a chance at another go-around in life (think, "Defending Your Life", Al Brooks/Meryl Streep --- LOVED that movie), though, with the arrival of the flash-sideways scenes, I wondered excitedly if LOST were veering back towards sci-fi (alas, this was not to be). I admit that even with the cool new plot lines, I continued through the last two seasons to be concerned that after all was said and done, all the characters, all the mysteries presented in six seasons, there'd be no WAY they'd be able to tie everything up in a nice, neat package. Nevertheless, I was anxiously awaiting the finale. Midway through the final season, I just wanted to KNOW already. Was it heaven, hell, purgatory, a dream, a futuristic planet, the next life, an ACTUAL island?


    So, I reached the ending a couple weeks ago. Watched it with eyes wide open. I actually wasn't even running for the last half of the last episode. Hmmm. So.

    Well… I didn't hate it. I wasn't completely disappointed; but I was… mostly disappointed. See, I realized at some point while watching, that those flash-sideways I loved so much, well, I loved them because I really WANTED them to represent redemption, a new shot at life, like a here & now reincarnation: lives they(we) ACTUALLY lived, or COULD live, if they(we) chose to. I wanted the sci-fi time-travel part to be true; I wanted to embrace the paradox of multiple timelines running at the same time (think, Back to the Future). AND, I wanted to believe that even if it WASN'T that, if it WAS, instead, as was heavily suggested in the last season, some kind of life-after-death experience, then the greater message here was: be good, be righteous, be kind, helpful, follow your heart, and you'll get it right – you’re crafting your destiny. It's not God or your religious doctrine choosing your path, nor that your path is already chosen for you, and you’re just moving along it, but that YOU choose your path, you're always choosing your path… and that you'll always have a chance to get it right, even when things don't go right.


    But in the end, that isn't what happened; not exactly.  All the loose ends left un-wrapped-up aside (they really DID do a shoddy job with closing up the many sci-fi aspects of the show, much to my disappointment - though I kinda knew it would be that way), my problem with the last episode was that it was a cop out. They all meet in a church and then the world ends with a bright light and lots of hugging, and none of the “bad people” are anywhere to be seen! What?


    I felt betrayed, in a way, that all the suggesting they did about time travel, reincarnation, life choices, following the “good” or “evil” path… they just didn’t follow through. The good guys go to heaven, the end. Sigh, how boring. How predictable. How safe.

    I know the answers to the questions of the universe: why we're here, where we're going, what happens next; won't be answered by a television show. But I had hope in LOST.  I had hope that maybe what would come from the millions of viewers tuning in each week was a promise, even just an inkling of a promise, that we have CONTROL over our destiny - that if we DO the right things in the NOW, if we make choices to help, be kind, to LOVE, that regardless of all the dogma, it’s truly the here and now that counts.  I think a lot of people may have left LOST still feeling lost, which is a shame. On the upside, it gave me a few moments of really engaging television, some ideas for my book, and a lot of motivation to keep running. So, there's that.


    Did you watch LOST? What did you think?

    Posted: Apr 28 2012, 11:53 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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    And… I’m Famous! Well, sort of.

    So, just like that, I can go from unknown to published. Who needs novels when 140 character obersevations of under-couch contents will suffice? Perhaps my previous assertion that Twittering isn’t really writing was misguided. Because, apparently, my 15 minutes of fame starts…now:

    Thank you to @mmiller0912 & @k8zeez for alerting me to the fact that one of my tweets has been mentioned on page 12 in the February 2010 issue of Parents magazine. Wahoo!



    Posted: Jan 14 2010, 12:27 by kelly | Comments (3) RSS comment feed |
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