Photo By Lori Dorman
Who can forget the image of 26-year-old Jamie Lynne Grumet on the cover of Time magazine breastfeeding her 3-year-old son Aram in May 2012? The photo, accompanied by the headline, “Are you Mom Enough?” set off an international media firestorm. Grumet appeared on network and cable news programs while the internet burned up with everything from support and enthusiasm to caricature and judgement.
While the experts (and the just plain old opinionated) weighed in on Grumet’s decision to appear on the cover and Aram’s future run-ins with playground bullies, the role of Jamie’s husband has been largely overlooked. Before Natural Child World called, Jamie says only one media outlet requested to speak to Brian, 31, father to Aram and their adopted son, 5-year-old Samuel. The circumstances of Brian’s job at the time prevented it from happening. Only avid readers of Jamie’s blog “I Am Not The Babysitter” know anything about him.
Conservative columnist Debbie Schlussel, who has never met the Grumets, posted on her website, “[Jamie] has a wimpy beta-male as an accessory and a Mr. Mom. Brian Grumet– that guy’s testicles were checked at the door years ago. It’s obvious.” For some, it is hard to imagine a man, any man, saying anything other than “No way!” to sharing a bed with his young children or supporting breastfeeding a child old enough to ask for it. It seems counter to a man’s instinctive need for rules and setting limits. Add in the physical demands of nursing and the fathers in attachment parenting families are often written off. Many AP dads say they know people think they are not macho, assume they take a backseat in the marriage, and one father even cited pity as a reaction he often gets. Brian knows all of this is out there, but you’d be hard pressed to get him to care.
At 6’4”, 215 pounds with large tattoos of his sons’ names running up the inside of his arm, Brian does not look like the kind of guy you want to meet in a dark alley. His shoulders are so wide, the Baby Bjorn carrier would not fit him when he wanted to wear his son just after he was born. One of Jamie’s fondest memories of Aram’s early months of life was Brian playing Madden, a football video game, while his son slept on his chest. Jamie says she may be the “more talkative” of the two, but Brian is very “opinionated.” When asked if he thinks his lifestyle is extreme, without missing a beat, “No, not at all. My job is extreme. Not my life. I try to keep the two separate.”
Brian, a police officer in Los Angeles, admits to being teased by his colleagues when the Time cover came out. In typical locker room style, they made jokes and drew him little pictures. He understands, “It’s all in good fun.” Grumet says of all of the comments, he most often hears that it’s impossible to have sex with your wife with children in the bed. His response? “There are other places to do it besides the bed guys. Come on, get creative. You guys are men. It’s not difficult.” With his baby blue eyes twinkling and a wide smile, he describes co-sleeping as “so natural.” Once they set up safe co-sleeping measures, it was easy for Brian to come home after a long day at work and fall asleep without worrying about his son being in the bed.