TIME Magazine breastfeeding cover featuring Jamie Lynne Grumet.
Jamie Lynne Grumet was just another blonde wife and mother of two living in Los Angeles and writing her blog, "I am not the babysitter." Then Grumet's life changed Wednesday when TIME Magazine's May 21 cover showed her breast-feeding her nearly 4-year-old son, Aram -- turning Grumet into an international topic of conversation.
The headline of the provocative cover photo asks, "Are You Mom Enough?" The accompanying story focuses on the theory of attachment parenting, formulated by pediatrician Jim Sears in his 1992 book, "The Baby Book." In the cover photo, young Aram stands on a tiny chair while his mother stands nursing him. After TIME published the image online, it spread like wildfire across the Internet. Controversy ignited as critics lambasted the image for its jarring nature.
"Anybody else slightly slack-jawed over this week's Time cover?" The Atlantic Wire's, Adam Clark Estes, rhetorically asked.
"The kid on the cover of this week's Time magazine is really going to hate Middle School," tweeted TV producer, Gavin Purcell.
"Breastfeeding your 3-year-old is one thing, but putting a picture of him doing it on the cover of Time?" the Daily News' Bill Hammond wrote.
Who is the mother at the center of the TIME Magazine breastfeeding controversy?
Grumet, 26, has two boys, ages 3 and 5. She has her own blog, where she writes about topics like breastfeeding, AIDS and adoption. Her eldest son is adopted. On her Facebook page, she describes her life as: "Transracial family by way of birth and adoption. Join the chaos." The overwhelming curiosity surrounding the magazine cover has attracted a slew of visitor's to her website, forcing it to crash. A recent visitor to her blog was greeted by an error message: "Service Unavailable. Server currently undergoing maintenance."
Nonetheless, there is some information available on the mother of two, who is at the center of the breastfeeding storm.
Grumet contributed to MomsLA, about life as a mother in Los Angeles and Orange County. In the TIME Magazine Q&A, Grumet said she nursed until she was 6. Her father was a UC-Berkeley-trained nutritional scientist.
"Breastfeeding is a subject I'm passionate about," she writes in a December 2011 post in MomsLA. In the article, Grumet discusses attending a breastfeeding sit-in at a Target in L.A.
"I have a really hard time with people that scoff at extended breastfeeding and give their reason as, 'its weird,' or 'that's a little too old.' I'm sorry those aren't legitimate reasons to be judging someone negatively for their choice," Grummet wrote.
"What I do know is that the majority of people do the very best for their children," she continued. "You enter dangerous territory when you start criticizing someone's parenting choices. I believe that by choosing something drastically different than another mother and labeling it 'best' for their child, that some mothers see this as an attack on their parenting choices. The harsh words and judgement [sic] come as a defense.
"I believe historical events and western society's oversexualized view of the body made us fearful of breastfeeding," she added. "My mother taught me never to be ashamed of breastfeeding. It is normal and natural."
The TIME Magazine article, by Kate Pickert, delves into Sears' theory and how four mothers have adapted it to their lives. Grumet thinks Sears is "great" and that his views are "nonjudgmental and relevant" to mothers today.
"We were starting the process of adoption when I got pregnant. We weren't expecting our biological son at all. He was born two months early, and preemies that age don't have a sucking reflex. The nurses in the NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] -- they kept trying to put him on formula. I couldn't see him for three days because I was so sick. I was basically passed out from the medication they were giving me. My husband is so great -- he would bring the equipment in and actually do the pumping while I was asleep. It was a full family effort. My mother breastfed me until I was 6 years old, until I self-weaned. Her encouragement to breastfeed is why we were so successful."
The Grumets' other son was adopted in November 2010. Grumet said that she was able to breastfeed her adopted son because she had milk from breastfeeding her biological son, who is featured with her on TIME's cover.
"Being able to give him that [comfort] with the trauma that he faced was really, really important to me. But I didn't realize how much it would help my attachment to him. When his English improved, because the connection was there, he didn't do it as much. So now he'll do it maybe once a month," she explained.
Grumet previously posted online a photo of her breastfeeding both her sons at the same time. She was ready for the criticism then and she was ready for it when the TIME Magazine photo was released.
"They are people who tell me they're going to call social services on me or that it's child molestation. I really don't think I can reason with those people," she told TIME. "But as far as someone who says they're uncomfortable with this, I don't think it's wrong to admit this. But people have to realize this is biologically normal. It's not socially normal. The more people see it, the more it'll become normal in our culture. That's what I'm hoping. I want people to see it.
"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."
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