Discretion, Nudity, and The Mommy Wars

Okay, I have a bone to pick with moms. I try to avoid the Mommy Wars, because you can never win. There is always another mom who is more righteous, educated, experienced, etc. Nonetheless, I must weigh in on this topic: BREASTFEEDING IN PUBLIC.
This article from NY Daily News is the latest “awareness campaign” to educate the rest of us on the sorrowful plight of young mothers. The poor dears. It seems no one heretofore knew that babies had to suckle from breasts for sustenance. I know, I’m shocked, too. What’s more, these bastions of maternal caring have been relegated to toilets in order to feed their children. Oh, the humanity!
First, let me start by saying that I love babies. Babies are awesome and special and moms deserve respect for carrying babies inside them and going through childbirth. Virtual pat on the back, fellow moms. You’ve sacrificed for other tiny people and you are appreciated!
So, CLEARLY, I’m all for moms, and babies, and moms feeding babies. I don’t think people should freak out when moms feed their babies discreetly. I mean, kids have to eat, and while some babies eat formula, or mushy baby food, or gallons of goldfish crackers, the point is that they all eat. Feeding children is one of the primary jobs of a mother. Along with wiping their tushy and keeping them alive until they can do all these things for themselves. I have no problem with public breastfeeding, just as I have no problem with public any-kind-of-feeding, so long as it doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of my own meal.
HOWEVER, when you have a woman who is either 1) just classless or 2) wishes to make a statement: “I’M BREASTFEEDING. LOOK AT MY BREAST. LOOK AT MY SUCKLING CHILD. THIS IS NATURE. DEAL WITH IT.” then those women should not be surprised when they’re asked to take that out of the public eye. (Funny thing about the aforementioned article? They’re complaining about breastfeeding “where nature calls” yet the Exposed Breast Defenders will rant about how breastfeeding is “natural” and therefore protected under ALL THE LAWS.) It’s really about personal responsibility and what a business feels is best for ALL their clientele, not just the offended young mother (or fellow diner). A business owner should be allowed to say to a woman, “I’m sorry, but we’ve had some complaints. If you could take that into the restroom/outside/to your personal vehicle, we would appreciate it.” There are plenty of ways to breastfeed discreetly. There are entire clothing lines dedicated to it. There are blankets (and really, who takes a baby out without a blanket??). Heck, there are pumps and bottles with nipples designed to mimic the breast so that you never even have to expose yourself! You cannot tell me that the only option for a young breastfeeding mother is to be relegated to the toilet to feed her kid. Furthermore, everyone who’s ever had an infant knows that YOU HAVE A SCHEDULE! You don’t just decide to go out and then suddenly are all, “Holy crow! I totally forgot little Johnny needed his boobie time just now!” Like the need to expose yourself just sneaks up on you. NO. You have a schedule. You know that in (x) number of hours, you will need to feed your child. It’s parenting 101. So why, then, are you in a position to have to feed in a restroom? Poor planning, mom. Although I’m sure you would still not be asked to retire to the toilet if you didn’t whip out your boob in front of God and man and that table with the five year old and the twelve year old boy next to you. DISCRETION, people. Learn it. Live it. Teach it to your kids.

I’m sick of these endless “campaigns” and all the raising of the awareness. We’re all aware of where baby milk comes from. Are you aware, dear mothers, that we don’t all want a demonstration? You have a feeding schedule, and there are such things as pumps, yet we’re all still subjected to a graphic demonstration because AWARENESS! ZOMG! I mean really. We’re all sharing space out here in this world. I may feel entitled to do certain things, but I also have a responsibility to behave respectfully in a civilized society, especially out in public. I’m not even weighing in on whether “breast is best” or any of the other catchphrases of the Mommy Wars. As long as you aren’t poisoning your child I don’t care what you feed them. Every child has different needs, appetites, temperaments, etc. You can’t expect your experience to apply across the board. Having said that, you do have to live with the consequences of your actions, and if that means that your public nudity plants you firmly in the restroom, so be it. It also means that if a business owner overreacts to a normal, discreet action of a mother, then you and all your friends can happily take your money elsewhere. After all, businesses speak the language of profit. Use the power you have, just stop whining when you do something meant to provoke and are called on it.

Beauty From Pain: a mom’s tale

We recently celebrated Mother’s Day. Flower sales were up, card sales were up, and restaurants did good business as children of all ages attempted to treat their moms to a special day. I won’t lie, moms deserve a day of recognition! Even if your mother wasn’t the most loving person, at least she gave birth to you. Be thankful you weren’t aborted!

Mothers do sacrifice for their children. We watch our bodies morph into an ungainly incubation chamber during pregnancy. We suffer the pain of having tiny feet kick our ribs and organs. We learn how to do the duck walk, use our stomachs as portable tables, and attempt to rise and sit with some measure of grace (which usually looks as graceful as a seal on dry land). I don’t have to wax poetic about the suffering of child-birth since most everyone has an inkling of what that entails thanks to t.v. and movies. Even after birth, we aren’t our own anymore. Our bodies are forever changed, and for most moms our hearts are, too. Whether you stay home with your children or not, they will make demands on your time, you’ll no longer be able to make plans without considering their care, and you’ll often have to sacrifice your plans for their benefit. Motherhood requires sacrifice.

But is it a punishment?

I’m very troubled by a sitting president calling an unplanned pregnancy a ‘punishment.’ Of course I am referring to Obama stating that he wouldn’t want his daughters to be “punished with a baby.”( http://michellemalkin.com/2008/03/30/sunday-meditation-obama-and-the-punishment-of-unborn-life/ ) This statement is almost ludicrous in light of the fact that most unplanned pregnancies and STD’s are not the result of some forceful action taken against a girl. Basically what he’s saying is “If my daughters exercise bad judgement, they shouldn’t have to live with the consequences of it, even if that means another human being dies.” Think about it! I readily admit that motherhood is a sacrifice and will change your life, but we all know the stork doesn’t bring babies, now don’t we? There’s this whole matter of sexual activity prior to the dreaded ‘punishment’ of pregnancy. Teenagers are notorious for making poor judgement calls, but I fail to see how treating human life like an object as disposable as a candy wrapper is going to EVER teach them wisdom!

Before you get on your high horse about the struggles of teen pregnancy, know this: I was a teen mom. I was one of the lucky ones with a supportive family, but I was a teen. I had to change all of my post-graduation plans. My friends didn’t know how to talk to me anymore. My boyfriend vacillated between “It’s not mine” and “Let’s get married.” I was terrified, but I was also intensely aware that I had a whole lot more responsibility now. There was never a question of whether or not I ‘wanted it.’ There was little question that I would ‘keep it.’ My parents gave me the option of staying home, going to community college, and having them help with my baby. I chose instead to marry the boy (who joined the Marines), move across the country, and give birth in a Naval hospital (where my new husband promptly left me alone so he could catch up on his online game play). I was in the hospital for 3 days. Alone. No, not alone; I had my baby. My precious little punishment.

My sweet little bundle of punishment taught me a lot about life, about what really matters. I saw the world with new eyes. I saw how simple things: a walk in the sunshine, the smell of a flower, a tiny snail; were beautiful. I saw how shallow and unimportant were the things I’d once thought so grand. I rediscovered the world by teaching my child about it. Suddenly, I knew my own importance wasn’t measured by the opinions of others. I was most valuable when I read a bedtime story to my child. I was most beautiful when I danced with her in my arms. And when I became pregnant again, and my then-husband threatened the life of that unborn baby with his fists, I left. I had learned to value and protect life.

And my ‘punishment’ became my salvation. 

So, yes, motherhood is hard. What you won’t learn from the president, though, is this: it’s always worth it. I may have sacrificed my youth at the altar of motherhood, but to know how greatly it has blessed me…. well, you’d have to experience it for yourself.