When you're inundated with stories about all of the little — and sometimes very big — ways that the stigma around public breastfeeding is perpetuated, it's easy to feel like you're up against something that will never change. But the little gift one mother got from a kind stranger in a restaurant might just restore a little hope in you, not just for changing current attitudes, but for the generations who will feed their babies after you.
Over on the Peaceful Parenting Facebook page, community members are sharing and delighting in the unexpected surprise one mom shared with the group. "Kim" was breastfeeding in her local but very crowded Chipotle (yum!) when a young college student stopped by the table to drop off the welcome but unexpected gift of both gratitude and free burritos. Take a look:
When you've got a baby at your breast in a public place and a stranger starts making a beeline in your direction, it's pretty much expected that the encounter is about to be unpleasant or embarrassing. The same goes for components of the parenting routine — wrangling screaming, writhing toddlers, trying to quiet a fussy baby or existing anywhere with a cumbersome stroller. But breastfeeding necessarily includes breasts, so when a furious stranger approaches you for a chat, it's natural if you feel a little more vulnerable and your stomach does a few more flips than usual.
The sensation of relief that comes over a mother in that situation when she's met with kindness and not disdain is overwhelming. It's hard to understand if you've never experienced it for yourself. It's a little like finding $20 bucks in last year's winter coat or expecting to come home to a gnarly mess only to find that your husband took a day off to clean.
So Kim must have felt awesome to have gotten a smile instead of a snarl while she was enjoying her cilantro-lime rice, and that alone would have been a great story. But of course, it gets better.
Because this young lady approached not just with a smile, but with a nice little note that's surprisingly perceptive and — we really can't stress this enough — a piece of plastic that this mom can later exchange for free burritos. That's gotta be like expecting to come home to a gnarly mess only to find that your husband spent the day cleaning and coordinating some kind of surprise party attended entirely by cute animals and massage therapists.
In all seriousness, the thing that elevates this story and makes people want to share it is this: The stranger in this case was a college student. Most of us at that age aren't thinking about how we'll feed our babies or, at the very least, don't often think to offer a passing glance let alone bucketfuls of empathy to a breastfeeding mom. It's not malicious; it's just usually not on the radar.
Women who breastfeed in public are often accused of doing things they aren't — seeking attention, for instance, or looking for any excuse to expose their breasts to passing nuns and innocent children. Most, however, are doing it for one reason only: to feed a hungry baby.
With her note and gift, this young lady pointed out that sometimes you're doing it for reasons you might not have even considered, like making the vitriolic atmosphere around something as simple and straightforward as feeding a baby much friendlier for generations to come.
And that's awesome. Like carnitas-in-a-soft-flour-tortilla awesome.
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