The breastfeeding whisper

I was having a conversation with a few coworkers last week (we all have kids around the same age – a year old, give or take) about life with a toddler & all of our proud parent moments.  It was also nice to talk to another bed-sharing family!  Then the conversation went on to talking about if were were going to work on transitioning to a crib or toddler bed anytime soon.  Our family is still pretty set on being undecided & just waiting to see which arrangement gets us all the most sleep HAHA!  It was then that my coworker said something that really struck me as odd.  It wasn’t WHAT he said but rather HOW he said it.  He looked around the room, leaned forward & said “Well, with my wife still breastfeeding it’s easier on her for our son to be in the bed with us.”  OK – while that is not a strange sentence in itself – he whispered the word “breastfeeding” & he even looked around before he said it to make sure nobody was around that might hear him.

WHY?!

He didn’t care one bit about speaking in a normal tone about bed-sharing so that clearly wasn’t the reason for the lean in & whisper.  I’m also sure it wasn’t because he was concerned that anyone would be offended by the fact that his wife is nursing a 15 month old (tho that can carry a bit of a stigma in our culture) because he didn’t even say anything about his son’s age.  He specifically whispered the word “breastfeeding”.

If this was the first time I’d ever heard someone say “breastfeeding” in a hushed tone I might not have given it a second thought but the more I thought about it the more I realized I have heard that word whispered more times than I can count!  Why are so many people whispering??
Is it a secret that your wife is giving your baby the best possible nutrition that could ever be provided?
Is it shameful that a woman is using her breasts for their intended purpose?
Are you worried that someone might even overhear you talking about the fact that your wife HAS breasts??

If his 15 month old son was bed-sharing but still waking up in the night for other reasons I seriously doubt the conversation would have gone this way:
(looks around the room… leans in… hushed tone) “well, with our son still waking up for a bottle at night it’s just easier to have him in the bed with us”

or even another option:
(looks around the room… leans in… hushed tone) “well, with our son still waking up for a pacifier at night it’s just easier to have him in the bed with us”

NEVER!

I don’t even feel this is a situation where it had anything to do with the gender of the speaker because I have even heard other women say “breastfeeding” in a hushed tone!  THIS IS CRAZY!  How did this come to be?!

I’m going to go ahead and say this is totally unacceptable!

We should NOT be whispering about FEEDING our children!  We don’t even whisper about our children’s BOWEL MOVEMENTS!  “oh my goodness!  He had a total BLOWOUT this morning!”.  Why would we find it OK to talk so freely about POOP but not EATING?!

Ugh!  This needs to change!

Lessons

A letter to my son:

I cannot believe you are almost a year old!  This has been the most magical year of my entire life!  Even tho you have only been here for a short while it already impossible for me to imagine my life without you in it.  You have taught me so much & while I will never be able to explain just how much you have changed my life, I wanted to take the time to thank you for some of the lessons you have taught me.

  1. Smile at strangers, it will brighten anyone’s day
  2. Some of the best communication involves no words at all
  3. You should let people know when they’ve made you mad – but don’t stay mad because it will ruin all the fun
  4. When you’re learning something new always give 100% effort otherwise you will never really know if you’re good at it
  5. When trying a new food just go ahead & take a big bite!  If you don’t like it – just spit it right back out HAHAHA!
  6. There is no wrong time to break out in a silly song & dance together – who cares if anyone is watching
  7. People will make assumptions about you no matter what you look like but that doesn’t define you in any way
  8. Always be open to learning something new & get excited about it
  9. Greet the day with an open heart & mind
  10. Snuggle – always make time to snuggle
  11. Books truly come to life when you read them together
  12. If something makes you happy – let the world know you’re happy!
  13. If you’re struggling with something let someone know so they can help you overcome your obstacle – there is no shame in asking for help
  14. Don’t compare yourself to others – you will grow & learn exactly the way you’re supposed to in your own perfect time
  15. Just because something may be difficult at first doesn’t mean you should give up
  16. If you are sad or if something hurts you – cry – don’t worry if anyone else sees you – experiencing that emotion is nothing to be ashamed of
  17. It’s not a terrible idea to give someone a good, hard look before deciding if you want to befriend them
  18. Be confident with your body!  It’s an amazing gift!
  19. If you’re sorry for your actions – the best apology is a heartfelt hug
  20. If you’re having a bad day – take a nap – it can fix a lot of things

Such a short list to sum up such an amazing adventure!  You make the world more beautiful just by be being in it.  I love you with all my heart & I am blessed beyond measure that I get to be your Mommy!

 

The Thief

My wife’s mother passed away only 5 months before we met.  I was so close to getting to meet her.  Almost.  We just missed each other.

I think this is part of the reason my wife fell for me.  I was new.  I didn’t know her mom.  I didn’t remind her of pain.  I could start a new chapter for her without even trying.  She needed that.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think she would’ve just settled on the first person that showed up after her mom’s passing.  We have tons in common & the things we differ on is what keeps us both in balance.  I think we are a great match!  She is a beautiful person inside & out!  I am blessed to have her in my life & forever grateful that she chose me to share this life with!
But I have a feeling of guilt that I can’t bring myself to tell her.

I don’t really care much for her mom – to put it mildly.  This woman I never met.  That’s pretty awful – I know.  I feel sick to my stomach even saying.  Actually I can’t say it out-loud.  I feel disgusting enough just typing it.
We’ve all heard the mother-in-law jokes about how they are over-bearing, butt-in-ski, controlling & all the other things are somehow acceptable to say about mother-in-laws but you never hear anything about father-in-laws because – sexism.  But I digress…

Please don’t misunderstand me – I have an indescribable amount of respect for her!  Working mother of 4 – basically doing it all on her own!  I would wither under those circumstances, but she somehow managed to balance it all!  I could study at her feet!  She made her kids, co-workers, family & friends ALL feel personally loved BY HER!  I can hardly find the time to give anyone besides my 11 month old a second of my time!  Let alone have it come across as even remotely genuine.  I’m failing hard in that department – like – hard!  But somehow she really did it all!  Above & beyond!  Every kid had their perfect birthday every single year with a homemade cake to match the theme!  Piles of presents under the tree with every kid’s hands, hearts & bellies full by 9am on Christmas morning.  She was a phenomenal woman – from what I have been told.

So why am I hatin’?

Jealousy?  You know, the way women do – they hate on the mom that looks like she has it all together because she makes it look so effortless while the rest of us are wearing the same pair of underwear 4 days in a row because that was the last time we showered & our hair tie is lost somewhere in the knot of hair on top of our heads but we don’t reach up to find it because then everyone will see our caveman armpit hair.  No I’m not jealous of her for any of those reasons – tho they may or may not all be true for me at this moment in time.

I am actually quite angry with her.  That word is a very simple way to put it.
Let’s see…. Anger folded in with a healthy dose of bitterness & resentment.  Put a middle finger on top where the candle should be.  That should sum it up pretty well.

WHY?!  What the heck did this amazing woman you NEVER met, who bore your wonderful wife & raised her into an amazing human being do TO YOU?!

Well, you see all those fun & wonderful things I mentioned before – the parties, gifts, happiness… she built a world where none of these things existed without her.  She was THE bringer of joy, the maker of happiness, the builder of wonders.  Only her.  The impression was that without her MAKING the days good they could not be good days.  Any other rubbish that may come along would be deflected by her – she protected her children from all the hurt & hard times she could & she was very good at that, too!  Too good.  Once she was gone – no joy could be made.  No happiness could be shared.  Life lost all of its wonder.
I understand her.  When I see my son’s eyes light up because I have done something he likes – WOW!  There REALLY is no better feeling on Earth.  Honesly.  It’s like a drug!  I want to make him smile & laugh & never face hard times!  I think that is your instinct as a parent.

I read a quote once that said something like “The job of a parent is to make your children so strong that they don’t need you.  The most painful part is being successful.” WOW!  Talk about a truth-bomb!

She loved that her children needed her & I get it!  She wore motherhood like the dress that was custom-made just for her – it fit perfectly & she never wanted to take that dress off because it made her feel like Cinderella.  Meanwhile I’m looking like a homeless person flailing & stumbling thru motherhood like someone has cut off my feet & placed me directly on hot coals.

Let me put this simply.
She stole from me.
She kept all the best parts for herself with nothing left to share (or at least no ability to know how to share it or make some happiness for yourself).  She has stolen romantic dinners, care-free weekends, laughs, smiles, strength, open-conversations, joy, light, love, days, weeks, months, years of happiness & the biggest hit: hope.
She kept all of the hope that life could be beautiful again.  Granted (& respectfully), never exactly the same, but still something to fully delight in without inhibitions or feelings of hesitation & guilt.

It pains me so deeply to see my wife – frozen & physically AFRAID to take a step forward.  To be the strong woman that she can be.  To be the mother that I know she wants to be.  I watch her.  She punishes herself for wanting to be brave.

It’s easy to get mad at her when she chooses her mom over our son & me.  Not in such clear ways – but I see it.
Sometimes I think she misses her mom so much & wants to be with her so badly that she would even trade us for a moment of time with her mom.
Sometimes I think she hopes it happens.
Sometimes I want to tell her that I don’t know if I will ever be able to forgive her if she dies before me by choice.

She wants to be mad at her mom, too.  She’s almost there.  But she’s frozen in fear.  Afraid that showing some strength & independence would mean punishment.  So, until she’s ready – I will be mad enough for the both of us.  For our family, for all of the things that we have had stolen from us.  Joy, laughter, happiness, love, strength & hope.

I take that back – I will not allow my hope to be stolen.  That belongs to me & not a single person living or dead will take that from me.  Even if that’s all I’m left with.

We are stronger together

Who am I at the core of it all?

Without all of the bitterness that life can bring
Without the low & slow boiling of anger that most of my days bring on after being surrounded by people that are in a hurry to only to help themselves
Without the glow of phones on all of our faces instead of meaningful conversations about the deeper issues
Without everyone sending phone calls to voicemail & preferring a short text as a way of ‘keeping up’ with friends

What do I REALLY care about underneath it all?
What brings me happiness – lasting happiness?

Kindness.

I get the most joy in my life when I do something genuinely kind for someone else – something they never even asked for – something unexpected – something for which my only form of repayment is knowing I might have made their day a little bit brighter in some small way.

That is WHO I am.

I enjoy letting people know that I truly appreciate things they do for me or that I am thankful to have them in my life.

Even in the midst of my own personal storms I still try to find ways to bring joy to others because I feel it gives me peace & keeps me grounded.

If we do not encourage each other then we all fall.  We cannot allow ourselves to ‘drink the koolaid’ of this current political climate in our country that tells us that we have nothing in common with each other & that we should be fighting with our neighbor if we want to show our patriotism.

I will not.

I will continue to pay it forward.
I will show my son that no matter what else is happening in our lives that we will always share ‘thank you’ cards, pay for the next person in line at the drive thru, tell others that they are strong, intelligent & beautiful.  That there is no one ‘right way’ to be successful – it is not & should not be measured in money but in smiles, hugs, tears & laughs!

When it becomes harder to love – love harder.

yes.

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