Remember that TIME cover? Of course you do. I don’t even have to explain which TIME magazine cover. You all know that I’m referring to the woman breastfeeding her toddler and taunting everyone with the line, “Are You Mom Enough?” That’s when the world met attachment parent and extended breastfeeder Jamie Lynne Grumet. And now, she’s back with another magazine cover, except this time it’s one of the sweetest family portraits you could ever want to see.
The entire Grumet family appears on this month’s cover of Pathways to Family Wellness magazine. The cozier family photo still shows Jamie Lynne nursing her youngest son, but she’s laying against her husband with her oldest son hanging on dad’s back. The family looks all snuggly and content. You can barely even tell that the youngest son is breastfeeding. While the TIME cover made me roll my eyes, this one makes the corners of my lips curl up.
There’s no doubt that Grumet’s TIME cover started some serious debate. It even launched a reality show about “Extreme Parenting.” But I think it’s important to remember that the magazine editors were the ones who packaged and decided on that cover shot. The unknown mom of two from California didn’t walk in and dictate just how in-your-face the cover shoot would be. She didn’t choose the tag line or write the accompanying article. In fact, she later said about the cover,
“I have no problem being in a standing position, but the image they captured does not represent the vision and direction of the shoot (which was to convey confidence and contentment). A lot of people don’t realize that many photographs are taken while moving around between positions. The picture TIME chose for the cover was one of these outtakes.”
With this new magazine interview, it looks like Grumet is trying to bring the conversation back to her original point: advocating for attachment parenting. As a practioner of the controversial and often-misunderstood parenting technique, she’s obviously trying to use her position to further a cause that’s important to her. But I think we need to be hesitant against assuming that Grumet is just looking to extend her 15 minutes of fame. My guess would be that after the extreme reaction to her TIME cover, she attempted to be more careful and get more personally involved in the final product for this photo shoot. And the result looks much more like a family picture I would want to hold on to, instead of a cry for attention.
I don’t think that Grumet’s participation in the exploitative cover from a major news publication means that she should be ridiculed or dismissed forever. I imagine that she had to be really passionate about extended nursing to open herself and her family up to this public scrutiny.
As some other websites tear Grumet down for nursing in this extremely public forum again, I’m reminded of a quote she gave shortly after the release of TIME’s cover. “There seems to be a war going on between conventional parenting and attachment parenting, and that’s what I want to avoid. I want everyone to be encouraging. We’re not on opposing teams. We all need to be encouraging to each other, and I don’t think we’re doing a very good job at that.”
I have to agree with Jamie Lynne on that one, I don’t think we’re doing a very good job of supporting each other at all.
(Photo: Pathways to Family Wellness)