By Megan Leary
My dear toddler,
You were tired. It had been a long morning in the car and then visiting with strangers. You rubbed your eye with one hand and said, “Nurse?”
At home I would have scooped you in my arms and cuddled you close while you nursed yourself to sleep. Then, I would lay you in bed and give you a kiss. But this time I reacted differently. You saw me look sideways at the room of strangers who have never been a part of your life and meant nothing to you. You saw me shift awkwardly in my seat. You saw me blush. You were confused. I hurt your feelings and you didn’t understand why. I made you feel like I was embarrassed by you. I was. You took a step back. You looked around the way I had, wondering what made me nervous.
I looked at your confused face and made a decision. I picked you up, pulled up my shirt, and nursed you. I kept my eyes on you because I didn’t dare look at the room. I put a soft smile on my face so that you would know everything was okay. In that moment I made an unspoken promise to you to never make you feel ashamed for asking to nurse again.
You don’t understand that its taboo for a mother to nurse her toddler in our culture. You don’t understand yet that the natural act of nursing makes people uncomfortable. Why would you? It’s not something you were born to understand. It’s not something in your nature for you to feel shame for. It’s not embarrassing for you to find comfort in something you’ve been doing everyday of your entire life that brings you close to me. Something that makes my busy legs stop. Something that makes my busy hands caress your hair and cheek.
My love, I promise to never do that to you again.
Originally published on Mothering in Feb 2014
About Megan Leary
I am a work-at-home mama of one darling girl and handsome baby boy! I am an advocate of natural and home birthing. I am passionate about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, eating well, and most things natural in a mama’s life. Visit me and my friends at our blog www.hippieswithbabies.com.