Last week, a friend of mine was harassed and kicked out of a local resale shop for breastfeeding her baby.
In response, the Crunchy Moms of DeKalb (a local mothering group I helped pioneer last summer), organized a "nurse-in." (Just typing those two words together makes me smile :). Unfortunately, Greg and I had already made plans and were on our way out-of-town Thursday morning, the day of the nurse-in, but I was cheering all those mamas on in spirit, and through facebook.
Driving along Rte 64, I called my mom to check in about a few things, and to share the excitement of the impending nurse-in with her. I was laughing with excitement and just the pure hilarity of it all, but quickly sobered up as she expressed concern and even mild disgust about the whole thing (she had read the article about it in the paper that morning)...
My mom. MY mom was on the other end of the line tell me how inappropriate it is for a mom to nurse uncovered in a public place. My mom, who was with me when I nursed Lucy for the first time in the hospital. My mom, who watched me nurse (covered) in her home, at coffee-shops, and at restaurants. My mom, who cheered me on as I put together our nursing pumpkin display at Pumpkinfest last fall. MY mom, who nursed ME when I was a baby!
Now, don't get my wrong--my mom is an awesome lady. Actually, the fact that she is awesome and has a problem with open nursing got me thinking. That the mother of a crunchy-granola-lovin', tree-hugging, garden-growing, nature-loving, one-grain-short-of-a-hippie daughter would still have a problem with this sort of thing.
And it got me thinking about my pre-mommy days, when I, too, was a little appalled when I saw or heard of a mother nursing her baby without a cover. Even after I had Lucy, though I had no problem nursing her in public, I always did it with my trusty hooter-hider covering me and my tiny baby. At church, I even retreated to the sectioned-off area in the nursery designated for nursing moms only. (Why I felt comfortable nursing Lucy at Borders but not at church is beyond me, and probably worthy of its own blog post...).
I have really grown a lot in my understanding and appreciation of the breastfeeding relationship since becoming a mother, and especially since becoming a party of the Crunchy Moms. Just being around other moms nursing comfortably and openly around each other in a public place has been so liberating! I'm sure with our next child I'll be even more open and comfortable with nursing in public.
But then I think again about my mom, and so many others who have just not been exposed enough to breastfeeding as a beautiful, normal, and essential activity, and have been exposed too much to breasts as strictly sexual objects.
With Lucy, I used my cover for modesty, yes, but mainly for the benefit of others--to avoid awkwardness and making them feel uncomfortable. Really, the last thing I want is to cause a big scene or to be looked upon as some sort of lactation extremist who has no regard for others around her. But the first thing I want is for our community and our culture to look kindly upon breastfeeding mothers, even when the breastfeeding happens in public.
And what better way to influence our culture for the better than to be a living example of the beauty of the breastfeeding relationship, just like my friend was doing last week??
I have no idea. Thoughts?