World Breastfeeding Week is about to end, and Facebook has been inundated with links, articles, posts and pictures of happily feeding babies and toddlers. My mother's heart says, "Aw!" whenever I see those photos of serene mamas and nurslings, with their chubby cheeks and butterfluttery lashes. And, my mother's heart cringes a bit (a lot), at the comments that always accompany those kind of pictures. There are always the comments. When online articles and Facebook posts started to allow public comments, it seems that all of a sudden people decided that any opinion was worthy of posting, and that sarcasm, bullying and personal attacks were all okay, as long as you ended it with "Just sayin'".
This isn't about comments, though. Despite how it may seem, the Internet does not have to belong in our lives. We have the liberty to leave a website, or to slam the laptop closed if we don't feel like dealing with a stranger's flack. In REAL life, though, it can be kind of tricky to deal with snarky comments when feeding baby.
Thankfully, I haven't dealt with very many rude people in my breastfeeding experience. Yes, I've had some people ask me if I'm *still* breastfeeding Gen, at the ripe old age of almost two. I've never been asked to cover up (I'm discreet, I think), or told to leave a store. There have been a couple times when men have walked into the room when I was nursing - and keep in mind, I chose that particular room because it was quiet and out of the way - and immediately remember a certain very important thing they forgot in another room, and leave, tripping over themselves. Over all, though, it's been pretty good. I've breastfed in malls, parks, restaurants, church, cars, deck...you name it.
But what if I had received a comment? Or, God forbid, been told to cover up? What if?
Nurse-ins are very in vogue lately. They make the news pretty often. A mom gets a rude comment. She tells her friends. They rally up, set a date and time and show up at the offender's business to nurse their babies in protest. The more moms the better!
I've been asked to some nurse-ins, and I've never been to one. I won't be going anytime soon, either. Here's why:
Am I still nursing Gen? Yep, I am. We've nicknamed her The Child Who Refuses to Wean. When she is tired, hurt, sick, anxious or stressed out, a cuddle and a drink fixes it for her. If she is lonely, nursing is her refuge. When she nurses, she and I have our quiet time, together. Those 5 minutes of nursing mean so much to her. Breastfeeding, for Gen, is quiet, happy and safe. It is peace.
Nurse-ins, to me, are the opposite of peace. The loving act between mother and child becomes a weapon, an attack. I am not willing to compromise my baby's sanctuary in order to give a business, no matter how breastfeeding un-friendly, a symbolic, passive-aggressive up yours.
Breastfeeding, the loving, healthy, maternal act, should not be used to bully a person, business or community. It should not be used to shove them into accepting our comfort zones as their own. If we want to be respected as mothers, then we need to extend that respect to others.....even those who don't hold the same views on breastfeeding as we do.