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Thursday, July 19, 2012

"One Of Those Moms Who...."

Since Liam turned 1-years old a week ago it's a question I've been getting asked in varied forms:
"You're not going to be one of those moms who [fill in blank with apparently unforgivable parenting mistake]?"
The questions have mostly been about how long we intend to breastfeed and to be fair not all of them have been phrased in such an openly critical way.  For example the nurse at Liam's 12 month check-up just judged me quietly to herself and emphasized the importance of MILK (i.e. not mine)

Two things I find interesting about these inquiries:

  1. The sudden renewed interest in my lactation plans.  Previously it was rare for any one to say boo about nursing and pumping milk for my son.  Generally people could care less about my boring old boobs. (Although I did get the teasing "Moooo" from one colleague)
  2. No one can agree on the unacceptable.  The apparently unforgivable lengths of time vary so greatly and unpredictably depending on the questioner; beyond-a-year, 18-months, 2-years, 4-years, 5-years are all apparently unforgivable or at least unnecessary lengths of time.
So, why the renewed fascination with the business of my breasts?  I think it's a pretty simple explanation: While breastfeeding your baby is still not what the majority of American mothers do, it has finally returned to being recognized as what is normal in most American minds. On the other hand nursing a toddler is still in the realm of "freaky" "unnecessary" "hippy parenting".

Perhaps it's time to start pushing for a wider  understanding of extended breastfeeding and get the American Academy of Pediatrics to increase their minimum period of breastfeeding to at least 2 years, consistent with recommendations of the World Health Organization.  

Mothers of nursing toddlers often begin hiding their illicit nursing behavior, and I now know why; condemnation by society, shame on you society!  But wait, aren't we society too?......
William nursing during my lunch break in the park on his first birthday.

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