Sunday, September 30, 2012

An Order of Milk to Go?

Our family is preparing to take one of our trips to the Chicagoland area to visit family.  My life has changed immensely since my last visit.  I am no longer the homeschooling mother of one 8 year old boy.  I am now the mother of two beautiful children.

Both of those children are fans of eating.  They like to eat rather often.  One of them I’ve been feeding in Illinois and Wisconsin since he was about 5 months old as we brought him on the “World Tour” from Germany to visit the family for the first time.  By the time we came home, due to an emergency surgery, I was no longer breastfeeding and therefore was not concerned about feeding him in public.  I don’t know of a single person kicked out of a restaurant for giving a child a bottle.

Breastfeeding in Germany when he was an infant was a very different experience than here in the United States.  There women breastfed everywhere and it was culturally accepted with no hang ups.  It was just part of your daily life: walk to the store, buy groceries for dinner, stop at the park and feed the baby, walk home.  

While I have yet to directly encounter interference, I have to admit my trip to Yellowstone National Park this past month was a bit of an eye opener about how America views breastfeeding.  Caught between the opportunity to see Old Faithful erupt and a very insistent 2 month old child I laughed and said to my mother “Well, no one will be looking at me anyway”, tossed a light receiving blanket over him, and fed him giggling to myself the entire time about the story I would later have to share with the world.  

But unbeknownst to me people, men especially, were pointedly trying NOT to look.  My mother also had the giggles from two men on either side of me staring dead forward trying to look in any direction but ours.  I appreciate their respect, but it was rather funny to me.  There was nothing for them to see out in public, no point of looking away.  Perhaps it was my 6’2” tall husband standing over me staring down anyone who would dare question my right to feed my child that kept their eyes from meandering down that path.

Unfortunately the “bodyguard” I wisely married 10 years ago will not be traveling with me to visit my family.  Someone needs to stay home to care for the dogs and chickens so he will remain here which leaves me without the big scary man to protect me.  I immediately began having nightmares of people trying to kick me into my car, bathrooms, etc while on my road trip.  I’m very good at standing up for other people’s rights but I hate making a stink about my own. 

I wanted a way to kindly and politely tell them to go pound sand.  I didn't want to engage or enrage them, I merely wanted to be left alone to feed my child in peace which is my legal right in both states.

I created the attached document here to print off and take with me.  It’s a trifold brochure on breastfeeding, my rights, and where people can get more information about breastfeeding.  I figure I’d rather educate the public than cower or confront.  I also don’t want to embarrass my family or my older son with a public standoff.  This way I can just hand whomever is trying to interfere a brochure, smile, and go back to whatever I was doing. 

If you would like to print this off for your own purposes, please feel free to do so.  I would be honored if someone needs one for their state.  I have a list of the laws ready for all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.  Just leave me a comment and I can share it with you for your particular state.

About the Contributor: Anna is our newest contributor on Raising {&Teaching} Little Saints. She is a homeschooling mother of two who lives in Montana. She enjoys reading and spending time with her children, her "body guard" husband of ten years, and her pets.

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