Most TIME covers feature people already accustomed to the harsh glare of fame. Others depict those caught up in situations not of their own choosing. But occasionally, a regular person wanders unwittingly into the red border, because his or her life and the news briefly overlap. Such was the case in 2012 when Jamie Lynne Grumet and her son Aram appeared next to the question ARE YOU MOM ENOUGH?
Grumet and her son were doing something they did every day, usually around nap time: nursing. Aram was 3, older (and taller) than most breastfeeding American kids, but Grumet, who was herself breastfed until she was 6, was an advocate of the attachment-parenting theories of Dr. Bill Sears—which include allowing kids to set their own weaning timelines, and which were the subject of the cover story. “Aram was getting sleepy, so he was just standing there nursing while they were kind of pulling my hair back,” recalls Grumet, of the moment photographer Martin Schoeller snapped a shot. “It wasn’t necessarily something we were posing for. It wasn’t something that was unnatural either. It was just how we were.”
Read the original story: The Man Who Remade Motherhood
The combination of the unconventional pose, Aram’s size, and the provocative cover line caused an uproar. “I saw it in the media before I got to see it on the cover,” says Grumet, who lives in California. “People who were awake before I was were sending videos of all the news outlets that were covering it.” She was shocked at how much attention it got, not all of it positive. “It’s just such an abnormal human experience, having this much attention on you, and it’s not necessarily healthy,” she says. “It was really interesting, but that the focus was on me was scary. I felt really vulnerable.”
Christie Hemm Klok for TIME
The cover had been the subject of considerable disagreement within TIME’s staff, with some calling it sensationalized and others saying it accurately captured the pressure mothers were under. Outside TIME’s walls, the cover was fodder for comedians, parenting experts, and a legion of letters to the editor. Thousands of people emailed Grumet, ranging from Dr. Sears to Alanis Morissette, who wrote the introduction and the foreword, respectively, for an attachment-parenting book Grumet wrote in 2019. After meeting other advocates at her media appearances, she became involved in clean-water and refugee causes, working in Europe, Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. She traveled a lot, she thinks now, partly to prove a point—that attachment parenting didn’t lead to clingy kids. Her feelings about the cover have changed over the years. “I was worried at the time that it had done more damage than helped—but it didn’t,” she says. “Attachment parenting has been a lot more normalized the past 10 years, and so has breastfeeding.”
As for Aram, now 14, he remembers little of the shoot, and almost none of the brouhaha that followed. He recalls his appearance on the Today show as “a room full of cameras.” The cover hangs on the wall of his bedroom alongside paintings by his grandmother. His friends don’t ask about it, but if they did, he’d be happy to explain. “I’m proud of it. I like it,” he says. “I just see myself and my mom. It makes me feel happy that my mom helped people, like, nurse their children in public, so they didn’t feel awkward or nervous.”