Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Welcome to the Carnival of Tandem Nursing
This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Tandem Nursing hosted by Mommying My Way. Our participants have shared their personal stories of the highs the lows and information on what to expect if tandeming is in your future. Please read to the end of each post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
It is going to be OK. Really. There is no need to feel guilty about the changes in your nursing relationship. I know you are exhausted and saddened by the shift in your breastfeeding relationship because you miss what you had before and you fear that you have ruined it forever. You haven't.
I know you are desperate to get the beauty back, those times when you both enjoyed nursing and you would smile into her eyes and she would give back a milky grin. You will. It isn't always going to be about biting your lip and fighting the urge to scream and throw things.
Your determination to keep breastfeeding? That is a good thing, because it is a choice. You are doing it because you want to, not because you feel locked into it. If that ever changes, though, you have my permission to stop. You want to teach your children to listen to their bodies, right? That means listening to yours, too.
But talk about this, OK? Find some other tandeming mamas and let them know just how hard it is. You need the support of ladies who have been here before. You are not alone. Also? Invest in good bras that *really* support, drink a ton of water and AVOID SOY AND ANYTHING ELSE THAT WILL CAUSE ESTROGEN SPIKES FOR YOU! Just trust me on this--it is a night and day difference.
Let me give you a sneak peek at some of the good things that are going to happen from tandeming:
It really does help with the transition. All four of your kiddos (yes, four!) are going to be incredibly close to each other, and seeing the gentle smiles of your two year old reaching over to hold hands or pat your newborn are going to be priceless memories. (But you won't actually nurse both of them simultaneously very often--the two different sucking patterns feels kind of weird).
Also, it is never going to be this bad again. Each subsequent pregnancy will be much easier in terms of nursing. In fact, for the next two pregnancies, you are going to be tandem nursing while pregnant and feel happy about it.
Another little tidbit: even though you won't be so uncomfortable (what a genteel way to put it, huh?) during future pregnancies, your kidlets are still going to follow a similar pattern of nursing. Just before two, they will still want to nurse several times a day. Once the baby is here, they will nurse far more than your newborn (and will go back to night nursing--breathe, mama! You can juggle two during the night, most nights anyway). IMPORTANT NOTE: you will have oversupply. Assign his and hers sides so that the baby won't be gulping from a fire hose! The constant nursing is totally OK, and if you just ride it out, they will slow down in a few months. Around three, they are going to drop to mornings and maybe once other time, and by the time four hits, they will even skip a day or two at a time. So it is OK to set limits and not feel guilty.
A few months from now, food allergies are going to rear their grotesque heads, and being able to breastfeed is going to be a comfort to you both. (Trust your instincts there, by the way--you weren't imagining things or over reacting.) Yeah, eliminating foods sucks, but it is soooooo worth it. And it isn't just food allergies. Being able to nurse through any medical issue makes it a hundred times easier.
You will really enjoy breastfeeding again, but you will also come to see it as just something you do that works for your family. By the time you are nursing three kids, you won't be thinking about it all the time, and it will just be a part of the rhythm of each day. And weaning will be a peaceful transition, too.
Most of all, don't waste any time on regrets. Guess what? Seven years from now, you will have been tandeming for six and a half years, triandeming for nearly two, having breastfed through three pregnancies and for eight and a half years continuously. And you know what? You will look back and see that the only thing you would have changed is the energy you spent in worry, fear and guilt. It is going to be OK.
- My Tandem Nursing Journey: Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy is sharing her tandem nursing journey so far...
- Built for Two: No matter how much you read and plan, things may not always go as you expect. A few things that Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy wished she knew when she was planning to tandem feed her toddler and newborn.
- Tandem Nursing - Magic Cure?: Jorje of Momma Jorje had high expectations of tandem nursing easing her toddler daughter's transition from being the baby to being a big sister.
- Mutually Desirable - Navigating a Tandem Nursing Experience: Amy Willa at www.amywilla.com talks about limit setting and meditations that help her navigate an intense tandem nursing experience.
- My Adventure in Tandem Nursing: Alicia at Lactation Narration tells her story of nursing her daughter through pregnancy and then tandem nursing.
- 4 months in: the good/hard: Becca at Exile Fertility writes about the joys and struggles of having two nurslings 17 months apart.
- Tandem Nursing: One at a Time: When tandem nursing resulted in a nursing aversion, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children looked for ways to meet everyone's needs.
- Why Nurse a 4 Year Old?: One of the questions Dionna at Code Name: Mama keeps getting is, "but why breastfeed a four year old? What are the benefits?" Today she answers that question.
- My Hurt Feelings: Shannon at The Artful Mama shares how her first son reacted to nursing after the birth of his brother and the gift she received the last time he nursed.
- Carnival of Tandem Nursing: A Letter To Myself 7 Years Ago: Dulce de leche shares the advice and reassurance that she would have given to herself if she could go back in time.
- Nursing Both My Babies: Cassie at There’s a Pickle in my Lifeshares her experience with nursing and transitioning into tandem nursing. She also gives tips for struggles.
- Our Tandem Nursing Journey: Kim at Life-is-Learning describes her journey into tandem nursing and why it is important to her.
- Based on her own experience, Lauren at Hobo Mama dishes about the benefits and downsides to nursing multiple children.
Monday, May 21, 2012
This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Code Name: Mama and Aha! Parenting. Our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles about the end of the breastfeeding relationship.
In cultures where such developments are often ruled by a clock or schedule, it may be difficult to hold an open space for weaning to simply take place for the natural occurrence that it can be. Our beliefs about such a process definitely influence how the experience feels for everyone involved.
Early on in parenting I was introduced to the idea that weaning doesn't have to be something that mom does to her child, that it could be a more child-led or even mutual experience -- kind of a dance where both parties would know when the music transitioned. While that idea was intriguing, I had little tools to put it into practice when I felt overwhelmed with nursing a toddler and at the same time wanted the close connection we had through breastfeeding to continue. I felt a bit at a loss and sadness plagued me as I encouraged her to wean.
As I have grown to include more children I am reminded of a few thoughts I have embraced along the way as a mother. Maybe they will help other mothers embrace weaning as not only a component of breastfeeding, but a continual process in parenting.
Weaning begins when a baby starts eating and moving away from mother; this is healthy, natural, and desired. Many of the tears I shed over weaning had to do with holding to ideals about child-led weaning being a certain time frame or type of experience. While I respect that certain people and agencies are sharing information about average weaning ages the world over, those may or may not apply to any particular mom and baby. We must come to peace in our own relationships.
If we look at weaning in terms of reality, how it occurs, we will see that it begins very early with babies showing interest in food and moving about in their environment with incrementally more and more space between themselves and mom. This is just how it is regardless of what culture we are talking about. Babies and children gradually grow into more independence when allowed to follow a natural course, meaning we do not over-protect nor force our ideas on them. With this approach, the process is healthy; it does not need to be pushed or feared. It can benefit from being embraced.
Weaning means "to ripen". I'm not sure where I heard this first and I'm not going to look it up to provide proper attribution. I'm just going to go on the concept and how it influences me.
When is a fruit at its most delicious? When it's ripe. Would we like it before that? Sure, we can appreciate it in its growth process from even before seed until it's a bit past ripe. All stages have their value. Would we like it after it's past ripe? Possibly, but we will most likely recognize the value of enjoying it when it's ripe rather than holding onto it too long afterward.
In terms of breastfeeding and parenting, if we view weaning as a growth process into and through ripening we can see the value of allowing it to occur in a space of positive expectancy. It's not bad for fruit to ripen; quite the contrary. It's also not necessary to push it to ripen. The other factor, though, in the nursing relationship is the mother's experience. She, too, is ripening. Moms go through the process just as much as their littles, growing through the progression of a very close relationship with their babies and children to a relationship of a different form.
Love simply changes form. This is the most pertinent to embrace, in my opinion. We get all kinds of ideas about love, how we share it, what it means, and whether we're providing it rightly or enough to our children.
There's no doubt that the breastfeeding relationship has the potential to cultivate a heart-to-heart connection between mother and child. While the child nurses, mom is open and receptive while at the same time giving - when all is going well. The child receives not only physical nourishment in the form of milk, but also emotional and spiritual nourishment in the form of unconditional love. Sometimes, though, nursing does not feel like this and it may be that it's time for some assistance or a change.
Change is not necessarily bad, especially when it is love changing form. Just because a mother decides to wean -- or that breastfeeding is not for her -- does not mean that the love she has for her child is not enough, less than, or otherwise tainted. It means that the ways she expresses her love are changing, and that is okay. I'll say it again, that is okay.
Through out the parenting relationship our babies grow into children, children grow into "tweens", then teens, and adults. And through out, the love we hold for them does not need to feel restricted or lessen based on the shifting of how we relate when we choose to embrace the fact that love changes form.
One way to continually experience a deep feeling of love and appreciation of our children, regardless of phase or age, is through embracing full body awareness. It's all too easy to fall into the trap of viewing either growing children or the parent-child relationship itself as a pain, or with a negative slant. Through deeply experiencing the love we have for them on a regular basis we can come to realize that everything in life is changing form, all of the time, and we get to choose how we relate to those changes.
Thank you for visiting the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Dionna at Code Name: Mama and Dr. Laura at Aha! Parenting.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (and many thanks to Joni Rae of Tales of a Kitchen Witch for designing our lovely button):
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon May 21 with all the carnival links.)
- On Breastfeeding, Weaning, and One Mother’s Identity — Jessica at Natural Parents Network has been nursing one or more of her children since 1993 - breastfeeding is wrapped up in her concept of mothering and herself. She shares her thoughts on weaning.
- two tales of weaning — Aspen at Aspen Mama writes about their countdown to wean.
- Wean Me Gently — Tam at Please Send Parenting Books shares a beautiful weaning ceremony.
- You say potato, I say bleeeuuuuch... — Anelie at Mindcradle had read the books and knew just how to introduce her baby son to solids—unfortunately, he had other ideas.
- A post about Weaning — (Not) Maud at Awfully Chipper writes about how weaning her son took longer than she expected.
- On Weaning, Pregnancy and Emotion — Shannon at The Artful Mama talks about her mixed emotions as she allows her son, Little Man, to guide her through his weaning process.
- half of her life — Staci at Springpatch Jam looks back on her nursing relationship with her first born.
- Is it just this After Forty Mom or is it harder to wean when its your last? — Amanda of After Forty Mom shares her emotional journey towards the impending self-weaning of her toddler daughter.
- Nursing Limits — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she has weaned her toddler down to minimal nursing and her guilt about the decision to do so.
- Weaning Video Series #1: Preparation for the Weaning Process — Why is weaning such a taboo topic? Dionna at Code Name: Mama got mamas from across the blogosphere to start talking about weaning - on video. Come check out the first video in a series of five that she'll be posting this week.
- On the weaning of the boy in the middle — Kelly at Witness To Hope shares the lessons of a little one self-weaning at 18 months in the middle of an unexpected pregnancy, after nursing his older sister for three years.
- Weaning due to anxiety — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about how she had to wean to preserve her mental health.
- When Will I Wean? A Guest Post — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama hosts a guest post from a mama who contemplates when her breastfeeding relationship will end.
- On His Own Terms — Momeeezen shares her heartbreak from when her son weaned much earlier than she anticipated.
- Our Weaning Story - Sudden, Surprised, and Embracing a New Season — Weaning doesn't always go how we imagine. That Mama Gretchen shares the story of her daughter's sudden weaning and how she has embraced this new season of motherhood.
- A Tale of Two Weanings — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares the similarities and differences of how her nursing relationships with her now six-year-old and four-year-old daughters came to a close.
- She Doesn't Remember — Alicia at Lactation Narration finds that her 6 year old no longer remembers nursing, only one year after weaning.
- It's The End of the World As We Know It — A story about the end of a tandem nursing relationship on Never Mind The Rain: A toddler moves on to a new phase in her life before mom is fully ready.
- A Natural End To Our Breastfeeding Relationship — With two self-weaning children, Jennifer at Our Muddy Boots does not know when the end will come, but that it will be natural and without regrets.
- Child-Led weaning: It's Not Extreme; It's Biological — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children explains why child-led weaning is based on biology rather than social constraints.
- 6 Years of Natural Weaning in 5 Steps — Jess at miniMum shares how and why she let her first child stop when he was good and ready.
- Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship.
- Memories of Weaning: Unique and Gentle — Cynthia at The Hippie Housewife shares her weaning experiences with her two sons, each one unique in how it happened, and yet equally gentle in its approach.
- Weaning Aversion' — Gentle Mama Moon shares her experience of nursing and unplanned weaning due to pregnancy-induced 'feeding aversion'.
- Three Months Post-Mup: An Evolution of Thoughs On Weaning — cd at FidgetFace describes a brief look at her planned (but accelerated) weaning, as well as one mamma's evolution on weaning (and extended nursing)
- Weaning my Tandem Nursed Toddler — After tandem nursing for a year, Melissa at Permission to Live felt like weaning her older child would be impossible, but now she shares how gentle weaning worked for her 2 1/2 year old.
- Every Journey Begins with One Step — As Hannabert begins the weaning process, Hannah at Hannah and Horn's super power is diminishing.
- Reflections on Weaning - Love Changes Form — Amy from Presence Parenting (guest posting at Dulce de Leche) shares her experience and approach of embracing weaning as a continual process in parenting, not just breastfeeding.
- Weaning Gently: Three Special Ideas for Success — MudpieMama shares three ideas that help make weaning a gentle and special journey.
- Guest Post: Carnival of Weaning — Emily shares her first weaning experience and her hopes for her second nursling in a guest post on Farmer's Daughter.
- 12 Tips for Gentle Weaning — Dr. Laura at Aha! Parenting describes the process of gentle weaning and gives specific tips to make weaning an organic, joyful ripening.
- Quiz: Should You Wean for Fertility Treatments? — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries talks about the key issues in the difficult decision to wean for infertility treatments.
- I thought about weaning... — Kym at Our Crazy Corner of the World shares her story of how she thought about weaning several times, yet it still happened on its own timeline.
- Celebrating Weaning — Amy at Anktangle reflects on her thoughts and feelings about weaning, and she shares a quick tutorial for one of the ways she celebrated this transition with her son: through a story book with photographs!
- Naturally Weaning Twins — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses the gradual path to weaning she has taken with her preschool-aged twins.
- Gentle Weaning Means Knowing When to Stop — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl writes about knowing when your child is not ready to wean and taking their feelings into account in the process.
- Weaning, UnWeaning, and ReWeaning — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy discovers non-mutal weaning doesn't have to be the end. You can have a do-over.
- Prelude to weaning — Lauren at Hobo Mama talks about a tough tandem nursing period and what path she would like to encourage her older nursling to take.
- Demands of a Nursing Kind — Amy Willa at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work shares her conflicted feelings about nursing limits and explores different ways to achieve comfort, peace, and bodily integrity as a nursing mother.
- Breastfeeding: If there's one thing I know for sure... — Wendy at ABCs and Garden Peas explores the question: How do you know when it's time to wean?
- Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Two, Three? — Zoie at TouchstoneZ discusses going from 3 nurslings down to 1 and what might happen when her twins arrive.
Friday, May 18, 2012
Now I see that he didn't need to do that. He held her hostage emotionally, spiritually, mentally and financially to such an extent that he never needed to cross those tangible lines of physical violence. He controlled her in other ways. His put downs and sarcastic barbs, his raging silences and a host of other tactics battered her spirit without the discomfort he would have experienced from bruising her body.
She walked on eggshells all the time, fearful of failing him yet again and triggering another freezing withdrawal or scornful tirade. He talked and talked and talked until she would have given in on just about anything. Even though he was the one in control of the finances, it was always her fault that there was never enough money for her needs--those always had to be put off just a little longer. But he still got his computer stuff.
It wasn't bad all the time, though. There were enough good moments to make her feel crazy. Maybe it really was her fault. It had to be. He wasn't a bad person--in fact, he had the respect of the people around him who were convinced that he was a wonderful, Godly man. If only she could just try a little harder and not set him off with her stupidity, her slovenliness, and all the ways she hurt his feelings.
The good times would last just long enough to convince her that it really was getting better. The previous explosion was a low point, but she was probably exaggerating it a little, and anyway, he wasn't going to do it again. We would all hold our breaths for a few days, and then, just as we started to relax, something triggered him again. It was enough to give us mental and emotional whiplash.
That is the lesson I learned of what marriage looked like. And that is the filter through which I interpreted my own husband's actions, even when his motives were entirely different. I took in my dad's control tactics as the way to "win", but at the same time learned to feel helpless like my mother, because that is what I saw and felt then. Those lessons are hard to unlearn.
It could have been worse. I know that, for both her and for me. I didn't repeat the cycle of marrying an abuser. But my mind was still locked into playing out some of the same scenarios. To ascribing the same motives to my husband, and of myself alternating between the roles of aggressor and victim. I've spoken with the same contemptuous tone of voice that my father used. I've reenacted her passivity. Most of all, I've come to the realization that I have no idea what a healthy marriage looks like. I haven't spent enough time around one.
So now I'm trying to figure out how to teach my daughter differently. How do I model a healthy marriage? How do I help her to know what an abuser looks like? How do I navigate relationships with my parents now when the abuse continues unacknowledged?
No, he never hit her. But the scars are still there, for all of us.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
|Who is in the driver's seat in your marriage?|
Perhaps it is a question of temperament. Speaking for myself, I am very unselfish about things that don't matter to me. I will happily defer to my husband when it comes to decisions about cars, electronics and other things that I have no interest in as long as they work. I certainly don't consider myself a shrew. But on things that *do* matter to me? Well, there is a reason that my mom owned copies of The Strong Willed Child in both Spanish and English! Giving in simply isn't in my nature. I was sincerely worried when I was younger that I would never find a man that I would genuinely be able to submit to.
The idea of a husband being able to pull a trump card and overrule me simply because he is a man felt wrong, unfair and silly, because it is wrong, unfair and silly.
On the other hand, I would have despised a weak man who gave in resentfully or was intimidated by me. I wanted us a partner whom I could respect, and who would respect me. It sounds pretty basic, but I have seen a lot of marriages where it isn't the case, and many churches that are both terrified and enraged by the very idea.
In a mutually submissive relationship, most day to day decisions are made by whoever has the interest, aptitude and responsibility. So I don't need permission or direction from my husband, just as he doesn't need permission or direction from me, in our own areas of responsibility. Things like my appearance, activities during the day, care of the children when I am with them, spending money and so on are up to me. Because we love each other, we are courteous and discuss big things like major purchases and even little things, just because we are both interested. But neither dictates to the other.
But what about the big issues? What if there is a major life decision that needs to be made and you disagree? Inaction until unity. We both belong to God. We both love Him and each other. He led the people of Israel with a fire and a cloud. He will lead us, too. So we wait, we pray, we listen and consider. If necessary, we talk more. Until there is clear direction from God, we stay where we are and hold off on a decision.
What if inaction *is* a decision? Simplistic advice that evades the tough questions provokes uncontrollable eye rolling for me, even if I am the one giving it. I get that some things are time-sensitive, and that a choice to maintain the status quo *feels* like a decision.
Quite frankly, inaction until unity will only work if both partners are committed to finding a solution. If they are trying to use this as a tactic to control each other, it is not mutual submission. If they are determined to work together and seek God, I believe that they will eventually find a solution that satisfies both of them. Often that will look like a new idea that neither had considered before. Other times it may look like a change of perspective, as one finds new information that leads to agreement with their partner.
It is *not* a case of one winning and the other losing. Nor is it a case of both losing (compromise). If one or both is unsatisfied, it isn't unity. Mutual submission means that both the husband and wife are submitting to each other. They are acting unselfishly and seeking to find the best for each other. Rather than trying to impose their own way, they are both exercising their energy and purpose to find God's way for their family. That may mean at times that they stand in each other's way to prevent going down a wrong path, but ultimately they find unity and act out of love.
Coming soon: Submission and Abuse
Image credit: jbguess
Monday, May 14, 2012
Ironically, I see a lot of simmering resentment, disappointment, shame and anxiety in my sisters who are convinced that the husband is meant to be the spiritual leader in the home. It is a perilous thing to allow others to define what "being spiritual" really means. Is it something he proves by taking the family to church every Sunday? Directing the family in devotions every morning? What if he only does it once a week? Is that enough? Does he need to lead the family by praying aloud before every meal? Discuss deep theological topics with his wife on a regular basis? What if his standards are more worldly than yours?
|Who is *really* pulling the strings in this family?|
It becomes an elaborate, role-playing strategy game. To complicate it even further, the rules that the wife creates are typically unspoken, and the rules that the husband sets are frequently subject to change, not to mention the fact that he is also the referee. Ultimately, if he doesn't fit into the man-made spiritual leader box, then she is disappointed and resentful that he isn't fulfilling his obligations, and he is frustrated and resentful of her manipulation and disapproval.
The pressure on the wife is public as well as private. If his spirituality is her obligation, then his choices reflect on her, too. She may feel as though she has to cover for him and invent excuses or at least speak rather evangelastically about his spiritual state in order to honor him sufficiently and to protect herself.
Churches talk a lot about being "unequally yoked" in marriage relationships. But what they fail to realize is that expecting the husband to always be the one to initiate everything spiritual is actually putting an unequal yoke on the couple.
Some people are more private about their faith than others. Some fit much more easily into the stereotype of "leader". Sometimes during different seasons in our lives our roles may change. Mutual submission means that you don't have to squeeze into someone else's perception of gender roles and what a relationship with God and each other looks like.
There is a breath of freedom in not trying to jam your family into someone else's mold. You don't have to seduce your husband into a particular response by carefully x-ing off all the little boxes in your checklist. You can share feelings and needs openly and honestly. If you are both spiritual partners, then it you can each lead according to your giftings, callings and convictions.
Instead of trying to force your husband to lead the way you want him to, you can lead together.
Coming soon: But Someone Has to Make the Final Decision! or, Inaction Until Unity
Image credit: x-ray delta one on Flickr
Saturday, May 12, 2012
|How's *that* for a provocative image?! Jesus and a saint tandem nursing!|
But a friend whom I like and respect said something to the effect that although nursing a three year old is normal, doing it on the cover of a magazine is not. She commented that nothing was private and sacred anymore. And she is not alone. I have heard variations of that from many breastfeeding moms, as well as the general public. This is my response:
Is bottle-feeding a private and sacred act? Would you have the same reaction to a three year old drinking from a bottle or sippy cup on a magazine cover? I agree that there is something sacred about breastfeeding, but I see the same love, beauty and holiness in other acts of a parent caring for their child (including a mother or father bottle feeding with love).
Sacred? Yes (although there are plenty of moments when it certainly doesn't feel sacred). Private? No. Why should it be? Because there are breasts involved? If that is your reasoning, then you are getting back to the whole breastfeeding is sexual thing, which is quite frankly both ludicrous and offensive.
As a Christian, I believe that breastfeeding in public contributes to a greater understanding of Scripture passages. The Bible is full of breastfeeding imagery (in fact, God refers to Himself as El Shaddai, which can mean the many breasted one!). Psalms describes the perfect peace and contentment of an older child who has weaned. We are told to desire God's Word the way a baby desires milk. Yet so many people are unable to grasp the full meaning of this because they haven't seen breastfeeding and are unaware of all the beautiful things that are implied. As my friend Claire said, that passage isn't just about nutrition.
"Peter's imagining that great big grin as your hungry baby sees that he's about to get what he wants, and the responsiveness of the relationship, and the bonding and the contented, milk-drunk smile at the end... If we don't provide that subconscious imagery, who will?"What about modesty? Discretion? Causing our brothers to stumble? I get it that breasts have a sexual function. There are Scriptural passages about the erotic functions of breasts, too, (at least King Solomon was very open about his enjoyment of them...and possibly one of the first poets to compare them to coconuts). Ahem. Anyway, despite that, breastfeeding is not a sexual function. My lips multitask, too. They can be used in kissing and...so on... in private, but also for eating in public. I do realize that in this country, breasts are typically covered up unless they are being used sexually, but in other places even women who wear a burqa for modesty are allowed to expose their breasts to nurse their babies.
I reject the idea that men are slavering beasts, under such a compulsion that the act of a mother feeding her child will stir uncontrollable lust. That is insulting and ridiculous for the men I have known (some of whom, at least--though I haven't discussed it with all of them, to be sure--are fully sensitive to the erotic qualities of breasts in context). And if it is true in an individual case, I believe that the Godly response is to help that man become free, not to pander to his lustful obsession by insisting that all women everywhere avoid feeding their children in public, just in case. There are men who are turned on by a woman's feet. We don't insist that women were furry boots to make sure that they don't cause someone to stumble. A Christian father sums it up well:
"Our energies should not be put toward 'correcting the behavior' of nursing women because, as I stated before, breastfeeding in public is not a sinful act but a natural one. The breast may occasionally serve a dual function - both for pleasure and for a baby's nourishment and comfort. But you cannot put limitations on nursing, and use God's design of men and women's sexual companionship to support your limitations. They are separate functions - one does not take precedence or dominance over the other."
All acts of love are sacred. But the sacred and the mundane twine themselves so closely that most of the time they are blurred together. I have heard too many people romanticize the idea of breastfeeding into the tender, mother Mary halo moment, far removed from everyday parenting. Motherhood does not mean a life in cloister, locked away from public interaction until the child has weaned. And if you suggest pumping before every outing, I will gently suggest that your knowledge of how breastfeeding works is pretty much non-existent.
I do not believe that breastfeeding is meant to be a private act. It is simply a way to mother our children and meet their needs (for comfort as well as nutrition) wherever we happen to be.
P.S. The friend whose comments sparked this post is a mom who supports extended breastfeeding, and this post is not an attack on her in any way. I took a comment and ran with it. :) We continued the conversation and I think that we agree on far more than we disagree.
P.P.S. If you really want to put the Time magazine photos in perspective, check out the Historic Photos and Prints of Breastfeeding page on Facebook!
Image credit: quinet on Flickr
Friday, May 11, 2012
First, the whole point is (as Alfie Kohn points out) a united front against the child. It is part of the whole adversarial mindset that pits the parents against the children in war. The theory goes that if the child senses any weakness, he will attack you at your most vulnerable level of disagreement, so you are bound to an alliance with your partner in order to create a show of strength. My children aren’t adversaries, though. We are allies. Our family is on the same team. We aren’t at war with our kids and we are not afraid of evil motives on their part.
Secondly, it is inauthentic. The united front supposes that you and your partner actually disagree to some extent, but are backing each other up from a sense of obligation and/or fear. Do I really want to teach my children to ignore their own conscience and go along with others to prove their relationship? Is that the model of conflict resolution that I want them to follow? Five or ten years from now, I want to know that my kids feel comfortable standing firm in their own convictions, whether their friends agree or not.
Read the rest over at Natural Parents Network :)