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TIME's infamous breast-feeding cover mom has no regrets

Jamie Grumet made headlines earlier this year for being featured on the cover of Time magazine breast-feeding her 3-year-old son. Grumet told TODAY that the cover photo was "intentionally provocative" and the publicity from it has given her the opportunity to bring attention to clean water charity Waves for Water.

Jamie Lynne Grumet became a cover girl this year without ever setting foot on a catwalk.

The infamous pose she struck in May for TIME Magazine, standing hand on hip while she breast-fed her 3-year-old son as he stood on a chair, landed her as much publicity as any supermodel.

After the cover was revealed, Grumet, 26, defended her choice to pose that way in an interview on the TODAY show, saying "We knew exactly what we were getting into."

TIME Magazine's controversial cover featuring Jamie Lynne Grumet.

When TODAY.com caught up with Grumet seven months later, she said she still carries no regrets about posing for TIME, but feels disappointed that the photo – and its provocative “Are You Mom Enough” tagline – overshadowed the story inside on attachment parenting.

“Any photo is subjective, so it’s up for interpretation. That’s just the way it goes," the Los Angeles-based mother of two told TODAY.com. "I’m more upset that people in the media have said that I regretted it, or that I was manipulated."

That’s why Grumet later posed for the cover of another magazine, "Pathways to Family Wellness," once again while breast-feeding her child Aram. But in that photo she sat cradling him in a more traditional position, joined by her husband and their other son, 6-year-old Samuel.

The fall edition of the quarterly magazine played off the TIME cover with its own headline: "Jamie Grumet: Mom Enough To Speak Out for Attachment Parenting."

“It was important for us to pose and say, ‘Hey, if we had creative control (with the TIME piece) we would have done it like this,’” Grumet said.

Grumet now tries to deflect any attention she gets for either cover to a charity she runs, the Fayye Foundation. She created the nonprofit group in November 2011 to help curb the orphan crisis in Ethiopia by empowering women and mothers.

Pathways to Family Wellness

Grumet’s older son was adopted from Ethiopia, where attachment parenting is the norm. “It’s totally normal to breast-feed there for years and years and years,” she said.

Her foundation’s latest project focuses on clean water – specifically, working to ensure that future generations in Ethiopia can find clean water sources nearby.

“It’s a completely solvable issue," she said. "Right now, women there are walking miles and miles to get water, and they are not going to school because of it."

Grumet makes regular trips to the African nation, and returned from her most recent visit in September.

When Grumet appeared on the TIME cover, the instant outrage and publicity over her photo crashed the website that hosts her blog, IAmNotTheBabySitter.com. She received more than 40,000 emails in the first day, most from reporters and bloggers around the world seeking comment.

Grumet soon found herself being criticized from both sides.

Courtesy of Jamie Lynne Grumet

Grumet on a trip to Ethiopia for her charity.

Strong supporters of attachment parenting — a method that encourages parents to sleep with young children in their beds, extend breast-feeding beyond toddler years and adhere to other techniques to help develop parent-child bonds — felt slighted by what turned into negative publicity for the cause. But Grumet also got fierce criticism from the opposite end of the parenting spectrum, from those who felt it inappropriate to promote public breast-feeding.

A TODAY.com poll at the time about the TIME cover generated votes from more than 131,000 people. An overwhelming 73 percent said, “Eh, I don’t really want to see that,” while 27 percent thought, “It’s great!”

“Look, I’m not an advocate of breast-feeding, but I’m an advocate for normalizing it,” Grumet said.

“I think a lot of people wanted me to be crazy or extreme,” she acknowledged, saying she received 12 offers to be on reality shows, and handfuls of calls regarding prospective book deals or product endorsements.

“It was so ridiculous. You just don’t make money off of being an advocate or activist. That would be really, really wrong and hurtful to what we were trying to do,” she said. “A reality show? That would have been exploitative, for sure.”

Courtesy of Jamie Lynne Grumet

In the end, Grumet said she and her husband, a police officer, have learned a lot from the experience and laugh quite a bit at the response it generated. “We’re secure in who we are,” she said.

And for those wondering, she no longer breast-feeds Aram, now 4. "He's done," she said with a laugh.

Today, Grumet works primarily on home-schooling her two boys and on her charity. She is currently planning her next trip to Ethiopia.

“It’s funny, people would say things like, ‘Look, you’re a magazine cover,’ or, ‘Look, you’re a Halloween costume,’ or something like that. But that’s not me,” she said. “That’s why we were able to not take it personally, because that picture was just this persona. It wasn’t me. It was never us. It was just an image that people were filtering through their own views and own life experiences.”

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