By: Kristy Kemp
I never saw you until today, but you have impacted me in such a big way. I was sort of shy when it came to feeding my baby in public places because whether true or not I felt judged and gawked at.
It's sad that when I went out in public I worried about when and where my baby will want the next feed and pray that when the time comes I could do it in peace, It's sad that I even had that worry on my mind , which pretty much consumed all of my time. I wanted to be able to enjoy myself when I was out because most of the time I'm trapped in my house. It's sad that I let it work me up because why in the world should a mom ever fear feeding her baby? That's just absurd!
It's very rare that I do myself up and since I can't leave my baby with anyone, with me he comes. So here I am all done up, trying to shop and enjoy myself, the best I can with a baby attached.
It's nice when I run into other adults and have some real conversations , with actual words and not saying things like, "I stole your nose."
When the time comes and baby needs to eat , despite my fear and shyness I always give him my teat. Most of the time, people go out of their way to look away and can you believe one time someone was walking towards me and once she saw I was breastfeeding, does a complete turnaround and walks the other way.
Do you know how terrible that made me feel? Like I have leprosy or I'm terrifying the public for simply feeding my baby a meal. One time I'm sitting at the Food Court at the mall, in the children's section trying to be courteous and be around other moms. Turns out, that was a mistake I hear several mothers telling their children, "No don't look , damn it, look the other way!" I get the hint you don't want to see , but I thought to myself, "I'm still lucky, cause at least no one has ever directly confronted me." Yeah, thought too soon because moments later , several of the parents angered, that I didn't move after their not so subtle hint and said, "Do you think it's appropriate to do that in front of our kids?" I was shocked, scared , and confused, but most of all I was angered that they treated me like me and my baby should be hidden from view or that we did not have the same rights to be there eating our food too. It's not like I want special treatment or for anyone to go out of their way , in fact, my wish is to be left alone , we're not hurting anyone, we're just trying to eat our damn lunch! I nicely replied to the outspoken angered moms with a , "Do you think it's appropriate to question a mom who is feeding her hungry baby? I would assume since you're a mom too, you would understand and that ignoring my baby's need to eat would be the most offensive thing of all." They just shrugged and walked away. Man what a damper they put on the rest of my day.
As you can see, I have very little faith in the public when it comes to me breastfeeding in peace, but then you came. Here I am a big ball of worry because I can feel my baby wanting my milk in his tummy. You must have picked up on my worry and dismay because such a beautiful smile you gave. I thought for sure once she sees that I'm going to be breastfeeding that smile will immediately turn upside down.
So here I am, being the best mother I can be, despite the fact I just know everyone is judging me. Your smile never left your face , even though I know by now you see my method of choice of how I feed my baby. This was so new to me, because all the times before, I felt judgement and criticism and jaws dropped to the floor.
When you came over and sat next to me, I thought for sure you were gonna offer me a blanket to cover, but instead you offered to buy me a cup of tea.
Tears streamed down face and I wasn't sure why, that finally a stranger shows me kindness and all I can do was cry.
You said, "Being a mom is hard and draining , let me take care of you for a second , so you can devote yourself to your baby."
I thought, "Why is she showing me this kindness? Is she an angel or is my struggles and fears written all over my face? I don't really care how, she is my saving grace."
I really didn't say much that day because I was too choked up talk, but just you being there , not judging or gawking was just enough.
So I write this letter now because I need for you to know, that
after that day, all my fears and worries of breastfeeding in public simply drifted away.
So to this stranger, who showed such kindness to me, and bought me that amazing cup of tea, you impacted my life more than you could ever know and empowered me so much so that my confidence is glowing on my face and I'm ready to pay it forward to the next scared mom that comes my way. You had to have been a breastfeeding mom at one point because it's like you knew exactly what I needed from you. Which leads me to believe, you once needed it too.
One little act of kindness, erased all of the bad, it was like you pushed a button inside of me and I need to thank you for that. I want you to know that I will never feel shame, fear, or worry when it comes to breastfeeding my baby. It's something I wish I had all along, but on the other hand I think it has made me a better mom.
So to this stranger who did not criticize me, whether you meant to or not you changed everything. I'm empowered, I'm loved, I show that love to anyone who needs a cup of tea or just needs to talk.
Newly Empowered Breastfeeding Mom