As we review 2012, we realize that a puzzling amount of parenting controversies involve breastfeeding. Why baby + breast should be such a big deal eludes us, but apparently it is. Read on to find out about the best (breast?) and worst parents and parenting moments of the year.
Time Magazine Breastfeeding Mom: Jamie Lynne Grumet
2012's most notorious mother was Jamie Lynne Grumet, the pretty blond shown on the cover of Time Magazine breastfeeding her three-year-old son, underneath the caption Are You Mom Enough? The cover horrified pretty much everyone, including Grumet, who told Yahoo! Shine in December, "That wasn't what we wanted it to look like. Our reaction was similar to everyone else's when we saw the cover."
See more: Breastfeeding mom fights back with new magazine cover
The magazine article was on attachment parenting, celebrating the 20-year anniversary of Dr. Bill Sears's book on the method, which promotes more extensive physical bonds with children than are usually deemed OK in the West, and is associated with co-sleeping and breastfeeding past infancy. Grumet, speaking to Shine in December, was largely philosophical about her 5 minutes as America's most controversial mom. She has used the "blip," as she described it, to network and support a charity she supports, Waves For Water, which provides clean water to children in Ethiopia.
Despite the firestorm, she hopes the exposure for breastfeeding was positive. "Hey," she said, "we are so blessed to have so many options, and we need to embrace them. It doesn't matter if you think it's right. We need to encourage each other to make the best choices for each child's need." Grumet also notes that "Because of the community of mothers that came together after the Time cover, 8,000 people [in Ethiopia] last week got clean water."
Tanning Mom: Patricia Krentcil
Did you manage to miss the story of the "Tanning Mom" back in May? Nutley, N.J. mother Patrica Krentcil's 5-year-old daughter showed up at school with burns, and told the school nurse she'd gotten them in a tanning booth. The story, as it emerged, was variously denied or supported by family members, witnesses and so on, but what was clear was that mother Krentcil was a passionate fake-tanning devotee ("The Toast of the Town" according to the New York Post). Krentcil was charged with second-degree child endangerment, but says that her daughter came with her to the salon, but not into the booth. In August, In Touch magazine ran a profile of Krentcil pale. She admitted that friends and family members said she looked better less tan, but asserted that she liked herself with that "just back from vacation" glow.
Petraeus Affair Mom: Paula Broadwell
It already seems like a million years ago that the extramarital affair and resignation of General David Petraeus briefly captivated national attention, but it was only November. Buff military biographer Broadwell, a married mother of two, was Petraeus's lover, and her cyberstalking of an alleged rival for the general's affections touched off the FBI investigation that led to the affair being discovered. Broadwell was briefly slut-shamed for her "toned arms" and "tight jeans," and for stepping out on her husband and two boys, but the whole thing appears to have blown over. Broadwell and her husband are still together, and the U.S. Attorney's office dropped cyber-stalking charges against Broadwell on December 18th. Now Broadwell has hired some fancy PR people to rehab her public image, possibly resulting in this Glamour magazine article about her, where five of her friends speak out.
See more: Mom makes boy hold sign as public punishment for being disrespectful
Breastfeeding Military Moms: Christina Luna and Terran Echegoyan McCabe
Breastfeeding never ceases to cause controversy. Two military moms photographed nursing their babies in their Air Force uniforms as part of a breastfeeding awareness campaign drew public ire and were officially reprimanded for misusing their uniforms back in May. Is breastfeeding while in uniform disrespectful? Or just practical? The women were disciplined by the Air Force not for the breastfeeding itself, but for using their uniforms to endorse a cause (breastfeeding awareness). And the woman who organized the campaign was fired from her unrelated civilian job, allegedly for neglecting her duties while responding to all the press requests during the scandal.
Can't Have it All Mom: Anne Marie Slaughter
The former director of policy planning at the State Department wrote an Atlantic Magazine piece this summer on "Why Women Still Can't Have it All," and touched off one of the most raging debates of 2012. Slaughter wrote about her decision to leave her high-level foreign-policy dream job, because of "how unexpectedly hard it was to do the kind of job I wanted to do as a high government official and be the kind of parent I wanted to be, at a demanding time for my children." The article was the most-read piece ever to run in the Atlantic, attracting 725,000 readers in the first four days and remaining on the magazine's most-popular list well into the fall. Every working parent who struggles with a work-life balance probably has an opinion on this, and many of them weighed in in print, including, possibly, Hillary Clinton, Slaughter's former boss, with disapproval in the pages of Marie Claire.
Sh*tty Moms: Laurie Kilmartin, Karen Moline, Alicia Ybarbo and Mary Ann Zoellner
One of our least-favorite parenting tomes of the season was Sh*tty Mom: A Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us, a book published in September by four female writer/comedians about texting at the playground, lying to your kids and otherwise making parenthood all about me, me, me. We found @shttymom on Twitter in December, up to the usual tricks: pretending store-bought cookies were home-made at a recent children's bake sale.
See more: Top celebrity parent newsmakers of 2012
Voting Mom: Galicia Malone
Most of the mothers on our list are either controversial or notorious, but this mother's story was just plain touching and inspiring. On November 2, according to the Cook's County Clerk's office in Illinois, a very, very pregnant 21-year-old, Galicia Malone, stopped to vote on her way to the hospital to give birth. Reportedly, Malone's water had already broken. It was her first baby and first time voting, and she drove herself to the hospital afterwards. We have no words. Attempts by Yahoo! Shine to reach Malone were unsuccessful, though we're dying to know the baby's name and sex.
The 40-Year-Old Reversion Mom: Amy Sohn
In July, privileged New York City mom Amy Sohn wrote what a critic called "one hell of a hate-read" about mothers behaving badly. The essay started with the claim that these moms called themselves "Hookers, Sluts and Drug Addicts" and went on to detail the supposedly juvenile (reversion to the 20s) behavior of Sohn and her friends. Some of the anecdotes were chilling, but many just felt judgmental and anti-mom. A woman in her 40s staying in shape, dressing well and having an occasional glass of wine isn't exactly scandalous, nor is a divorced women having sex. The essay, it turned out, was drumming up advance publicity for Sohn's latest novel, Motherland, which was published in August. Yahoo! Shine checked in on the book's Amazon review page and found reviews running the gamut from "Racy" and "Juicy read" to "Torture!" and "WTF".
The Anti-Helicopter Parent: Madeline Levine
Madeline Levine is a Marin County, CA psychologist and mother of three grown boys whose latest book Teach Your Children Well, was one of the more influential parenting books this season. Levine made a compelling explanation of just how and why parents who push their children to succeed (in a needy, insecure way) or live through their child's accomplishments are actually perceived by the child as unloving and emotionally absent. The book elicted one of the smartest pieces of parenting writing we read all year, an essay by Katie Roiphe for Slate, entitled "The Seven Myths of Helicopter Parenting".
...And One Notorious Couple: Bitty Lab founders Priska Diaz and Dana King
A baby bottle company in its infancy, Bitty Lab, had an ad campaign that outraged the mommy blogosphere in July. The Twitter ads were aimed at dads and said things like "reclaim your wife" and "Feeling like you're competing with your newborn for mommy's attention? Meet BARE™ air-free #babybottles." People were outraged that adult men were being presumed to be big babies, competing with the newborn, or even ickier, were dying to get back to business with the wife's lactating breasts. The Bitty Lab founders spoke to Lisa Belkin at the Huffington Post and swore it was all a misunderstanding, but wouldn't admit which one came up with the campaign. Bitty Lab's BARE bottles claim to be air free (which is pretty smart, actually) but still aren't available in stores.