I ALMOST GOT INTO A SLAP FIGHT WITH A BREASTFEEDING MOTHER THE OTHER DAY.
We get looks. I'm used to them. I'm obviously African American and my son, well, it isn't quite as obvious. It must have something to do with that whole White dad thing. Hmmm... So, we get looks when we're out. People pause before complementing me on his rampant adorableness. After all - you don't want to complement the nanny! Growing up in my rainbow of a family (another post for another day) I was prepared for all of this. I was completely unprepared for this woman.
Looking back on it now it is really not so surprising. On most of the parenting pages that I follow on FB feeding your child has got to be right up there in the pantheon of the most controversial subjects. I've wrestled with it myself as breastfeeding just wasn't working for me and Buddy. It took Adam, my pediatrician and my OB/GYN to get me to see that pumping and bottle feeding was best for my son. Even though he is thriving now, chubby and happy and demanding I still have mixed feelings about it. shouldn't I have been able to soldier through the pain? Never mind that he and I were both in tears each time he fed or that he wasn't gaining weight - all I could think was BREAST IS BEST.
So when I saw this woman with her super stylish nursing cover out I thought that we would set up at the next table over. I knew that I needed to feed Buddy and I (patronizingly, I admit) thought that I could be backup for her in case any of the other patrons gave her any crap for feeding in public. Yeah... that is not how it all went down.
I got out my bottle and settled Buddy on my lap in a way that still allowed me access to my decaf Caramel Macchiato and smiled at my neighbor. She sniffed at me and gave me "the look". You know the look. It's the one certain people have been perfecting since fifth grade. I sighed and turned away a little, thinking this was a race thing. She sniffed again. And again. Finally I asked her if there was a problem.
That was her opening. She said she hated to see "people treating their precious babies that way". I looked around to see who she was talking about and then asked, "What?", like an idiot. Then she launched into a lecture about breast milk and breast feeding and threw out all kinds of statistics at me about how it was basically the only way my son would be able to grow up happy and healthy. Her tone was holier than thou and the look on her face was cruel. People were starting to stare. Thankfully Buddy is a gulper and finishes a bottle faster than mean women can tirade so I was able to stand up, plop him on my shoulder and gather my things as she kept talking. She ended with, "Don't you want your baby to be happy?" That might be the worst thing you can say to a mother - and it was what made me almost snap.
This woman did not know about my struggles. She didn't know about my depression or anxiety, the searing pain in my breasts or the sobbing of my son. She didn't know anything about me. If I had met this woman just two weeks earlier I would have been a crying mess by the time she was finished. Instead I just looked at her and said, "I guess you weren't breast fed, huh?" and I walked away.
Buddy didn't belch until we were out of ear shot. I know, disappointing.
This post is written partially in response to THIS ARTICLE.