Monday, August 30, 2010

Breastfeeding Exposure!

This past weekend I attended a "nurse-in", a demonstration to raise awareness for the laws surrounding breastfeeding in public after a mom was asked to leave a store for nursing her baby.
It was more than that to me and so many of the people who attended. It is about raising the bar when it comes to normalizing breastfeeding. It is about making it a beautiful thing in the eyes of the general public and it is about transitioning from the mentality that a woman needs to cover up to being celebrated and looked upon with awe and admiration.

There are so many reasons why I believe nursing in public is necessary and important, but the most significant to me is a reason I have heard against doing it.

Actually, there are many arguments against it:
That it is an intimate thing- sure, sometimes it is. So is kissing my husband as we walk through the park following our son. I don't know about you, but when I witness moments like these, it makes me feel all warm inside because I know I am witnessing the best part of humanity. And sometimes, nursing is just about filling an empty belly.

That is is disgusting- um, NO. And it taste pretty sweet actually.

But the one that always triggers something in me is:
That children might see it- I sure hope so!

Children NEED to see breastfeeding because they learn through example. So many of the children in my preschool (both boys and girls) would pretend nurse their dolls because they had seen mothers doing so. We did not have any play bottles in the doll area which was a conscious decision on my part. They get enough of that in the media and on the street, but because of the mentality of needing to cover up, they don't see nursing quite as often, especially if their own mother is unwilling or unable to nurse.

I think this needs to change. If it changed, mothers would not get complained about and asked to leave stores for making others feel "uncomfortable", dads would not be embarrassed or ashamed to have their wives nurse in public, and more babies would receive this perfect food to nourish their tiny bodies.

I once read an article about the country of Mongolia where breastfeeding is celebrated. It is seen as such a good thing, shop owners will put chairs out in front of their stores for nursing mothers because they believe they will get more business, people feel free to kiss a nursing baby on the cheek during the act, and the others are often verbally praised for the act.

When a mother is able to breastfeed, gets through all the bumps in the road to continue to nourish her baby with the best food possible, and then gets over the American mentality that it is somehow gross to do so in public, I want her to be cherished, not just simply tolerated.

Other than actually giving my son my milk, one of the benefits of nursing my baby has been my niece and nephew witnessing their cousin being fed. Before I began nursing, I am pretty sure neither of them knew it was even possible to feed a baby this way. My niece even asked me what I was doing the first time she witnessed it. She now nurses her dolls often my sister tells me and the thought makes me all teary eyed. I hope one day, she will be feel just a slight bit more confidant about her ability to nurse her babies and she will see it as a wonderful, irreplaceable gift.

I know I do. So go out and nurse your babies and don't cover up!

Another fabulous take on children witnessing Breastfeeding.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Getting There

One thing I did not anticipate is how much I would enjoy riding public transportation as a mother.

In my professional life, I was always so busy. So much of my day was about getting things done, finishing a project, scheduling a meeting, holding the meeting, following up on the tasks, etc... Even when I was teaching the children, it was always difficult to just be in a moment because there were always other children who wanted you, other activities to get out, etc... I felt like I was running against the clock most days with never enough answers to questions and rarely a moment to take it all in. Who knows, maybe this was something I should have made more of a priority in my career - I know it will be in the future.

However, when you go from forty-five children to one child and from ninety parents to two, you are suddenly thrust into a lot of down time. Sure, there are still days when I feel like I can't get anything done because Elijah is needing me or following behind me undoing, but in general, A LOT of down time.

It is important to me to pass a love of nature and duty to protect the environment on to Elijah. When you combine that with down time, and with a child who really does not like to be strapped down to a car seat you get: THE BUS.

We ride the bus as much as we can around our big city. Mostly it takes us to the aquarium since the grandparents gave us a yearly pass, but it has taken us other places as well. I never felt like I had time for public transit before, it was too slow and I needed to get there.

Elijah loves the bus. Not only the ones we are on, but all the others he sees out the window. His favorite seat is in the back looking out the window at everything and he loves that his mom (and sometimes even dad) are right there holding him. There is no car seat restricting him and he can cuddle, use mommy as a jungle gym, nurse and see as much as he wants cause mommy isn't driving. Come to think of it, these are all the things I love about the bus too.

But... there is more. I love that Elijah meets all kinds of people, see all kinds of diversity, and gets doted on by most of the people who sit next to us. He has been the audience for an accordion player as well as the held a conversation with a German-speaking man who when he got off the bus told me, "Thank you for bringing him on here today, he makes my heart happy."

To that I replied, "mine too sir, mine too!"

I think this must be one of the greatest things about motherhood, that it forces you to understand so clearly how the journey is so much more important than the destination.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The burden of parenthood....

Everybody who is a parent understands the pure joy of having a child in their lives. The joys of parenthood are discussed openly and are undeniable. Being that it is so unbelievably wonderful (most of the time), it makes my particular burden so bearable.

This post is not meant to be a negative whining account of parenthood, but simply an acknowledgment of something I struggle with everyday.
What is this burden I speak of?

It looks something like the following stream of thoughts that run through my head:
"Elijah is not eating ALL of the food I have put in front of him, has he changed his mind about liking all these healthy foods?"

"We didn't read today, I'm not creating a lover of books!"

"I got frustrated and snapped at his daddy. I am such a bad example of a happy marriage."

"Elijah isn't being exposed to enough ________ (animals, nature, music, etc...)"

"I walked past that piece of trash without picking it up. Elijah will never be kind to the Earth!"

This endless desire to be the best mother I can turns itself into a negative stream of thoughts a lot of the time. Thoughts that do not help me or Elijah and most of the time leave me frustrated.

This is my burden: to be the best I can without worrying so much and to remember that Elijah needs me present in each moment so that his memories will be filled with happy times with his mama.

This is the most important thing I can do for him.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Yes, I'm paranoid...

Another thing those parents were right about when they said I would understand when I was a mom...

Cutting grapes.

Yes, I used to think that all those parents who cut grapes into fourths were out of their minds and way too paranoid. Isn't cutting them in half enough? Geez people, I thought.
It wasn't until I was a mom that I realized that cutting them in half does not change the diameter of the grape and they are still a choking hazard and it is not until you envision your little child choking on something you gave them that you cut the grapes in fourths.

I even cut blueberries, the small ones :).

For those of you who don't know about this website, blog, and magazine... it is hands down the best resource for parents out there. Dont live your parenting years without it.