I saw you sitting awkwardly in the corner. You were propped up by not much more than an oversized purse and the willpower of a saint. You appeared to be calm but I suspected that you were inwardly experiencing an anxiety no one can ever know but you.
There were throngs of people around you, talking, walking by, and hurriedly looking at their phones. Kids were chattering, laughing, and carrying on.
But there you were, nestled in a self-made sanctuary amidst dozens of people.
You were breastfeeding your baby who was snuggled up against your chest. You weren’t hiding. You were minding your own business. You were there supporting your older child at sports practice while nursing their small sibling.
Your seemingly non-plussed demeanor amazed me. There you sat, stoic and resigned to the occasional curious stare or the uncomfortable, averted gazes of those who were embarrassed to see you nourishing your child in public.
I marveled at the phenomenal amount of patience it must take to feed a small child from your breast all the while watching and cheering on your older child in their sport. I wondered how you had the energy to keep going. Maybe you were wondering the same thing.
Where I live, I don’t see moms breastfeeding in public very often let alone a mom breastfeeding her child with such poise and ease in public. It may sound absurd to some but it’s true. So many mothers like me have hidden while breastfeeding out of pure awkwardness or embarrassment. We have felt unsure, self-conscious, and afraid.
Many of us moms who breastfed our children didn’t come from mothers who did it themselves so it didn’t always feel “normal.” Many of us, like me, struggled intensely just to exclusively breastfeed at all. During my own experience, there was always a shadow of inadequacy or failure looming over me because I didn’t have the kind of support around me that I probably should have had.
But the times they are changing. Slowly, I think, we will begin to see more mothers feeding their children in plain sight with less regard for what others think. Mothers are taking back their dignity and reclaiming their right to be at peace with how they choose to care for their children whether it makes other people uncomfortable or not.
So, to the warrior mom who probably never saw herself as anyone’s hero or even noticed another mom admiring her confidence and tenacity — you are my hero.