“Unseemliness” is how Charles Murray might call the May 21 Time magazine cover, genuflecting to modern motherhood in America. In “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010,” the libertarian political scientist mentions the “collapse of a sturdy code” [of conduct] in American society, rendering the nouveau riche upper class indistinguishable in that sense from the ever-accreting lower class.
“Obscene” better captures the mien of the Madonna and child that brazenly stare into the camera – and at America. Time’s cover-models are Jamie Lynne Grumet, 26, self-styled, “attachment” parent, and Aram, her chunky, garden gnome of a child.
(And “hollow-elite,” also a Murray moniker, fits Time Managing Editor Rick Stengel. Stengel, whose hagiographical tributes to Nelson Mandela have practically been serialized – he has completed two, perhaps a third is planned? – has helped cloak Mandela in the raiment of sainthood. Mandela, that paragon of virtue, has never raised his authoritative voice against the pogroms that have seen thousands of white South Africans murdered and mutilated by blacks.)
In any event, Aram is a real feeder, if you know what I mean.
Grumet junior is large for his tender age of 4. His gaze is cunning, never cute. The miniature man already reaches up to his non-gnomic mom’s waist. To help Aram get at the prized pair – mom’s perky breasts – Time’s artistic director has used a stool.
All the better to satisfy mom’s “maternal” urges, “Nudge nudge, wink wink. Say no-more, say no-more.”
One other tender touch: Porno-mom’s pelvis is tilted slightly in the direction of her gnome’s grubby hands.
At this stage, bullying would be the best corrective intervention this kid could hope for. In a better world – one in which propriety had not been pulverized – odious Aram would be taunted mercilessly at play school. Were he to make it that far, boob-boy is sure to be smacked about the head by a few manly college boys, later in life.
For now, Aram remains the play thing of bigger bullies, caught as he is in a maelstrom of mommy dearest’s making. Horrified, television spectators watched the advocacy for the onanism known as “attachment parenting,” with the fascination with which you’d watch maggots crawl in-and-out of a CSI corpse.
“A lot of people say, you know, you can’t really be intimate with your husband if you’re co-sleeping and … those are kind of myths, too,” vaporized Mrs. Grumet on NBC’s “Today” show, to the leering approval of the mad-hatter behind Jamie Lynne Grumet’s Method Parenting. Dr. William Sears was on set to dispense Delphic advice to moms who don’t measure-up. “These are tools, not rules,” this tool of a doctor effused.
Viewers of this uniquely American vaudeville were assured by Mrs. Grumet that her relationship with her husband was “very, very important” to her. If to believe her, daddy too enjoys watching mommy perform. Or as Monty Python’s Flying Circus put it in 1969, “the wife is a ‘goer,’ she’s a sport, she’s interested in photographs.”
Charles Murray’s “sturdy code” is moribund but not yet dead. I don’t know if “JoshuaW” from Charlotte, N.C., is a dad too, but this is not his idea of family fun. “How do I erase this from my computer?” he quipped on a chat-board. “If the feds raid my place, I’m looking at five to 10.”
Not that cable’s chronically incurious cretins have inquired, but I would be surprised if the appendages shared by the freaky family yield much by way of fluids. Jamie Lynne Grumet is very thin. Nutrients (and nurture, for that matter) are not what the gnome is getting from the breast on which he gnaws. For an intake of fewer than 1,500 to 1,800 calories a day by the mother would put her breast-milk supply at risk. Or so contend the experts. Being as skinny as Mrs. Grumet is would probably degrade the nutritious quality of the liquid as well. Claims Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC: “Fat-soluble environmental contaminants and toxins stored in body fat are released into the milk when caloric intake is severely restricted.”
Still, the toddler’s toxicity came in handy. Aram made it hard for viewers to make head or tail of porno mom’s NBC disquisition on “attachment parenting.” “Buddy,” as mom referred to Aram, kvetched a lot (as any half-decent parent could have predicted).
Yes, America’s Model Mom is a boob of very little brain, to quote Winnie the Pooh. Aram is “self-weaning right now,” the vacuous Mrs. Grumet intoned affectatiously, as the gnome’s self-whining reached a crescendo.
To the infant, the breast is a non-sexual organ, on which he depends for sustenance and solace. As a mother who breast-fed her baby, I understand how close a bond breast-feeding fosters. My daughter would play with a lock of my hair, or stop feeding to crack a smile. She would always turn a meal into an occasion. But when she emphatically rejected this unarguably suffocating closeness, I let go.
Having read Sigmund Freud’s primary works (as opposed to secondary source commentary about them), I consider him one of the most creative and imaginative writers. While I would not put much store on the pioneering psychoanalyst’s reductive theories of child psychosexual development, about one thing Freud was right: Children are sexual beings.
But as King Solomon (allegedly) preached in the Book of Ecclesiastes, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
Appropriate, non-perverse parenting should never awaken and amplify a sexuality that is destined to lie dormant until much later in life.
Stage theories (in the social sciences, at least) are problematic because they are so formulaic. However, Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development have much to impart. Central to the existential conflicts Aram Grumet should be experiencing right about now are issues of “Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt,” and “Initiative vs. Guilt” – the unsuccessful resolution of which could give rise to anything from obsessive and impulsive traits, to antisocial and narcissistic ones.
From the little we’ve seen of him, Aram is awfully unpleasant, a walking, whinging DSM-5 textbook – that’s the psychiatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – in the making.