earlier this morning i was thinking about how long it has been since i have written about parenting. back in january it was all i could focus on but lately it seems like i have drifted in that a bit. which is fine, but i was thinking about it.
then i got online and i was reading a few of my favorite blogs and i came across phd in parenting writing in response to a blog she read about nursing in public. i have a million and one thoughts on nursing in general and nursing in public as well but it was specifically her writing about “teaching” that got me to thinking.
the other day i was dropping the bean off at preschool and i stayed a bit to get him settled (we are still so new to this school thing) and while i was there chickpea got hungry. there is a nice little couch in the book area so i sat down to nurse her there. within a few seconds two of the girls from the preschool were practically in my lap as well. two pairs of eyes staring at me as i unbuttoned the top of my shirt.
girl: what are you doing?
me: my baby is hungry so i am going to feed her.
me: my baby is hungry so i am going to feed her.
teacher: these two are the youngest in their families so they may not know what you are talking about. if they are bothering you please tell me.
me: oh no, i am fine with it.
girl: so, you are feeding her?
girl: but, where is the food?
me: she is eating milk that my body makes for her.
girl: but where is the milk?
me: well, some babies eat their milk from a bottle but other babies eat their milk right from their mama. my baby is getting her milk from my body.
girl: where is it?
me: the milk?
girl: yes, where is the milk?
this question gave me pause, i wanted to say “in my breasts,” but i wasn’t sure if that language would be ok. so instead i patted my chest as i said “the milk is in here for her.”
girl: how does she get it out of there?
me: she uses her mouth. it is called nursing. but, right now she is very distracted by looking at you two so she isn’t eating yet. if you can be very quiet she will eat.
girl: but how will she eat? where is it?
at this point the teacher walked over and led the girls away saying, “i can explain it all to you again but we need to leave them alone so the baby can concentrate on eating.”
i thought the lesson went pretty well. but, as a breastfeeding mama whose son could probably have answered those questions better then i did it was a little shocking. in all honesty, i could not believe these girls had no idea what i was talking about? how could they be three or five years old and not ever have seen a baby nurse before? it seems unfathomable to me. so, obviously i am living in some altered reality.
when the bean was about 16 months old, and still nursing all the time. (and i do mean all. the. time.) we went on a family trip with my brother, gohan and their girl no. 1. gohan was pregnant with no. 2 at the time so she had been telling no. 1 about nursing and about how she had nursed her and would be nursing the baby. but along we came and she had a model. i was a little nervous about the whole thing because i knew that gohan had been telling no. 1 that “babies” nurse and with the bean being a toddler i hoped i wasn’t going to confuse things.
no. 1 has never had any problems asking questions and so i was not surprised when she took the time to interview me on breastfeeding one day. i can’t remember the whole conversation but i do know she asked where the milk was, how i made it, how the bean got it out, and finally the killer question that kind of froze me in my tracks, “can i try some?”
the play it loose and free part of me would have said, “sure.” but i was fairly certain that this was not the reply that gohan would want. and i could understand why. not that i was planning on letting no. 1 nurse just that i would have expressed some for her to taste. but then i could see that this might not be something gohan wanted to do while juggling a newborn so i simply said, “only the bean can get it out of me.”
not entirely true but i felt i had already reached the limits of my teaching for that situation. so, while i agree with phd on some points i think that we have to take our teaching role pretty seriously when we are not teaching our own children. sometimes vague is ok. when i told gohan how it has all gone down she was quite relieved that i had not shared the milk with no. 1. if i had i think she really would have thought she had married into a family of crazies.
now every time i drop the bean off at preschool those two girls find me and follow me around. i am so tempted to say, “you can go back to playing there will be no milkies show today.” but i bite my lip and just say hello. i hope they get to process the information and that it helps them in some way.
when i was growing up i had a mainly sexualized understanding of my own breasts. and they are small. and i felt they had failed me in every way. i was teased about their size (or lack of size) on the playground starting at such a young age and continuing on into adulthood. i wanted them to grow, change, be better. even when i was pregnant with the bean and they were a little bigger i still looked at the other pregnant women with their giant voluptuous breasts and i felt a sting of jealousy. i was all belly and still just these tiny little “ping pong ball” breasts.
and then my milk came in. and my breasts had a job, a function, a purpose that i could really get into. my breasts made milk and fed my baby. and then they fed my toddler, and then the milk dried up while i was pregnant and they simply comforted my toddler, and then milk came back when the pea was born and they fed another child. and can i tell you something? i love these breasts. they can be as tiny as they are, and sag all they want, and have a stray hair here or there, and i will love them with all my heart. because breasts are on our bodies to make milk. and mine can do that. and that is the point.
wouldn’t it be nice, if instead of all our girls growing up wishing they had bigger, better, rounder, perkier breasts for someone to look at and like, they knew that if they wanted to they could use their breasts one day to feed their child. and it would be so much more then they had ever imagined.
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