The breast’s controversial year

Gosh, it’s been a brutal year for the breast, don’t you think? Between Time Magazine’s “Are you Mom Enough,” to the College Professor breastfeeding at American University during class, sometimes I can’t tell if the breast was put on earth for good or evil. Is it our best friend or worst enemy? And really, is it an object of desire or a tool we use to provide sustenance? (An aside, the funny/annoying thing about articles covering the American U professor is that most begin by stating she’s a single mom – WTF?)

I had a conversation with Sasha a few weeks back at Peter’s Park. I had had some free time the night before so I got on a local moms forum that I belong to and read up on recent conversation threads. I always learn something new from this forum/community, and I periodically put in my two-cents or post a classified ad. Anyways, one conversation caught my attention and slight amusement (admiration? curiosity?). A woman had been breastfeeding in a casual Brookline restaurant when the manager stopped by and asked her to cover herself, or something to that effect. The woman was offended and took it to the inter-webs. The indignation on the forum was palpable and a breastfeeding sit-in was mentioned by many a responder.

I shared this with Sasha and I’m fairly certain our conversation could have gotten him lynched by a couple of the moms at the park (um, including yours truly). Here are just a few snippets.

  • Me: It was probably some religious guy who couldn’t take it and that’s his problem.
  • Sasha: No. A restaurant is for eating. I don’t want to see somebody breastfeeding when I’m eating.
  • Me: That is eating. That child is eating.
  • Sasha: It’s different. I wouldn’t go into a restaurant after working out without a shower. It’ impolite.
  • Me: Oh my god you are so American. There are just so many things wrong with that analogy. 

It went on and on. I left the park telling myself that there’s really never a perfect person. And Sasha’s a great dad/husband/person so while moms reading this likely want to smack him, I ask you to please not. He just needs our help to better understand.

Now I’m a believer in breastfeeding. I know it provides fantastic first nutrition to the newborn and infant, it helps to contract the ol’ uterus and helps to burn calories so mom can try and get her sexy back, and it creates a wonderful bond with child. I believe all this to be true. However, I am a more conservative mom. When I breastfed Liron, almost exclusively for six months, I didn’t do it in public. I just wasn’t comfortable – let alone pulling a breast out, it was never so easy to latch Liron. Therefore we had little struggles. That was between us. That’s just me. I am a strong supporter of any and all moms breastfeeding when and where it is time. However, I feel our society flails when it comes to understanding written and/or unwritten rules of breastfeeding.

In the end, where does this leave the breast? Time Magazine’s provocative article added fire to the mommy wars. That’s no good. So what if you breastfeed your kid for a few years? It’s not for me. But I respect you.  So what if one bottle feeds? Breast, bottle – it’s food, nutrition, care, love. Let’s not judge. Do what works for you.

Mommy wars aside – and the war of the college professor vs. any number of people – where does this leave the breast? Once it’s a feeding device (if it does indeed play that role), does it ever look sexy in a shirt or dress again? What do you think moms? Does it feel like at some point the breasts cease to be yours? Do you get them back again?

I get the feeling breasts wear many different hats at different times. One thing’s for sure. It’s been an interesting, controversial year for the breast and this post merely scratches the surface. Moms, dads, blog readers (I know you’re out there!) what do you think? Give the breasts their due!

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