But only because they're full of milk.
Kelly Preston's name has been cropping up this week in articles with her comments about how much she loves breastfeeding her 16 month old son Benjamin. Most of the articles have simply presented her interview statementswithout much editorializing, but leave it to the Hollywood snarkbags to react with shock and horror.
Bruna Nessif's article yesterday at E! Online suggests Preston should be added to E!s TMI Mom's Club. Nessif writes, "Preston has been openly expressing how much she still enjoys breastfeeding her - wait for it - 16 month old son Benjamin, who shares a bed with her and hubby John Travolta."
Wait for what, exactly? I'm not sure which Nessif, who describes herself in her Twitter profile as "surprisingly smart and witty," (really??) feels is more egregious - the fact that the Preston/Travolta family co-sleeps or that Preston's still nursing her kid.
Interestingly, a quick peruse of the comments to the article reassured me that the majority of people who are paying attention to this story fully have Preston's back when it comes to extended nursing.
More than one commenter (by which I mean something like five or six of them) referred to the W.H.O. standard, which recommends women nurse their infants for at least two years.
The shrinking and highly vocal contingent that still finds nursing repugnant isn't going to go away anytime soon, but they're being met toe to toe consistently and (mostly) calmly by an increasingly educated public. And for the most part, I like tenor of how people are expressing themselves about this issue. Not always, but mostly.
The Mommy Psychologist has recently begun a series of postsabout Attachment Parenting. Like a lot of people, TMP has an inborn resistance to being preached at. She shares her experience of being sat down and lectured to ad nauseaum by her husband's best friend and his wife on all of the things they MUST do when their baby was born. Let's be honest, a lot of the Dr. Sears crowd can come across as, well, overzealous.
There has to be a middle ground between "If you don't cloth diaper, breastfeed for 6 years, feed your child only whole, organic foods, never spank, never CIO and homeschool then you're a terrible parents" and "Breastfeeding is gross, if formula/plastic diapers/spanking/Ferberizing was good enough for me then its good enough for my baby."
Personally I don't get the whole visceral reaction to breastfeeding. Breasts were making food for babies thousands of years before some premodern dude figured out that drawing pictures of them on the cave wall gave him and his buddies a little stiffie. And it wasn't that many generations ago that most babies in even modern society received their primary nutrition from breastmilk. Modern technology has brought us a lot of amazing things, but it still hasn't created an equal replacement for that magic liquid mama makes.
And nursing in public? For crying out loud, you see more exposed flesh on an Abercrombie & Fitch billboard than you do when a nursing mama pops her little one on for a nice spot of lunch. I remember being really offended by the people who insisted on glaring at me when I nursed my children. Hell, its not like I was getting up and squirting them in the eye with my boob juice!
At the same time, those well-meaning but overbearing Boob Nazis need to back off on moms who feed formula. I don't need a PhD in anything to know that the happiest and healthiest families are those that make informed and educated decisions about what works best for them. Sometimes nursing doesn't work the way its supposed to. Sometimes work schedules make it hard and stressful to have a successful go at breastfeeding. And you know, sometimes formula is just what a particular parent is comfortable with. Nobody ever learned much of anything from someone who insisted on standing there screaming at them about how wrong they are. As I said in my comment on The Mommy Psychologist's blog, I don’t think you should have to preach to anyone about something whether it is parenting or religion. If the style of parenting you follow is so amazing and awesome then you shouldn’t have to “convert” anyone.
About eight years ago I found a small online community of moms where I found I could fit in. We varied in lots of ways, and not just geographically. We have members across oceans and continents, we have made a lot of different choices about feeding, vaccinating, diapering, schooling and disciplining our kids. To this day we are a solid community and we rally round our own when any one of us needs support. I can't talk about the lovely box I got in the mail after I lost my brother from my moms-in-the-box without starting to tear up.
The reason - the ONLY reason - that we have stayed together so long and that our little community works for us is that none of insists that OUR way is the ONLY way. Every bit of advice comes with a disclaimer: your mileage may vary. Unless my kid is bleeding to death, these moms are the first place I go to for parenting advice.
It is really unfortunate that articles like Nessif's continue to widen the gulf and misinform people about breastfeeding and attachment parenting in general. I have faith that the ever-growing public understanding about breastfeeding and its benefits will eventually take over until the squeamish amongst us find something else to freak out about. I also have faith that we can, as a whole, understand that when it comes to parenting, no one "method" but the one that works for each of us and our families is the "right" one. There's no need for such polarization amongst parents. How we feed, sleep, clothe, educate and discipline our children is up to each of us to determine. Sharing what worked for you is terrific; berating another family because they make different choices than you did is simply asinine.