“Pretend you are sitting in a park. Write an “ode” (poetry or prose) to a person that might pass your bench. Begin the ode with the line, ‘I noticed you were in a hurry…’”
Ode to a Breastfeeding Mother
I noticed you were in a hurry. Of course you were; you have so many demands on your time. Your baby looked like it was ready to be fussy, but trust me it is as beautiful as you think. You looked ready to tip over. I remember that feeling well. You know the baby is going to cry and just thinking about it…you are about a minute and a half away from a wet shirt and everyone knowing exactly why you were walking so fast.
From some people, you get the sympathetic pat of solidarity on the shoulder. Ugh, why are people always touching you if you’re pregnant or have a baby? Why are they always trying to touch the baby, too? Especially if you are trying to feed it? You want to just yell at well meaning little old ladies. Get your germy hands off me and my kid; I just barely got him to latch! And then comes the commentary on your choice to allow your breasts to serve their primary biological function. Why do people feel so entitled to remark on how you feed your baby? It’s a hundred degrees and you’ve got your kid buried under three baby blankets just so some jackass doesn’t accidentally see your super sexy brown misshapen bulgy sore nipple on the one side your little one ever wants to drink from. Because at the tender age of half a year the little dear has decided that you should walk with a list for the rest of your life. Because boobs.
I know it’s not easy. You feel judged when you breastfeed. Then, when you pump or use formula to give the baby a bottle, you feel judged again, and by no one more than yourself. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You are doing the best you can with what you have where you are and the fact that you are even trying to feed your baby in the way that feels right to you is a courageous act. Everyone is going to talk shit about your parenting. Here’s something they don’t want you to know: they didn’t have a clue when their babies were little and they still don’t, even if their babies have grown and maybe have little ones of their own. None of us come with a user’s manual. You feed your baby. You do it when and where you both need to. If you don’t want to cover up, don’t. Men go topless all the time. They’re just nipples. And yours make milk. That’s like a superpower. Don’t get down on yourself either, especially not on your body. Because, speaking of superpowers, you grew another human being out of two half cells. And it made it here for you to carry around. Ignore the people who try to make you feel bad. Try not to thunderpunch old ladies in the throat and just go buy some sanitizer for when they get handsy. And maybe a cape. Yeah, you go buy yourself a cape right now. You goddamned superhero, you.