Sunday, May 30, 2010

Story time + nursing =...

Another adventure in bookselling.

So it’s Saturday morning, and parents with kids are gathering for story time in the children’s department. I notice an attractive new couple with an infant and a toddler among the small crowd lining the stage. As I put stuff together to get started, I notice she is breastfeeding her daughter.

Now, this is not unusual. As those who know me or are regular readers of this space, are aware, I am a great proponent of the practice. I go out of my way to make sure my kid’s department is hospitable to moms looking for a place to feed their young.

Most go about nursing with a degree of modesty. Not this young mother, however. Her babe chowed down with gusto, her mom’s breast bare. And when the child was done, mom made no attempt to shield her nipple from public view. It wasn’t as if she was flouting it or anything. It was as if she—and her husband--didn’t notice. She suited up for story time, but later I saw her walking around the department, again seemingly without a clue.

I confess to almost laughing out loud. The sight of a totally bared breast in public didn’t so much shock, as surprise me. And the total comfort of this young mom astounded me. This is Florida, you understand, not New Jersey, where breastfeeding is protected by law.

Back in the early 1970s, when those of us in the La Leche league were rare indeed, I was considered a fanatic for not only breastfeeding, but for continuing until my children were each about a year old—almost unheard of in this country back then. Frankly, I was mad with happiness to find a use for the pair I’d been lugging around since the age of 11.

Mother-nature made has come back in vogue in years since, as science has discovered it’s advantages for both mother and child. Regardless, we in the USA have an uneasy relationship with public breastfeeding, with many viewing women’s mammary glands primarily as sex organs.

I refused to rush off and hide to feed my own children when at home, forcing even my own father to deal with his own issues. I also nursed in public, using clothing to maintain decorum.

What really pleased me was that I heard no obvious snickering or signs of discomfort from those at my story time, which included men and women of varying ages. No one complained to me or to the store’s management.

Rock on, mom!