Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dear Gold's Gym...

So here's the deal.  At one time in my life I believed every mom should stay at home with their children.  I thought my babies would never wind up in my bed.  I visioned birthday parties that were Pinterest worthy.  I thought every mother should breastfeed, and the list goes on and on. 

And then, I became a mom.

And things changed.

Although I choose to stay at home with my kids, I sometimes take a look around at other stay at home moms at library time looking rattled and like they would rather be anywhere but where they are (and some days that's me) and I think, Dude, these people need to get a job.  I've met working moms that are so much more present in their children's lives than half the stay at home mom's I know.  And last night, when I was at my wit's end with my nineteen month old who suddenly has decided not to sleep at night, well, she was hogging my pillow.  And for sure I had the most fabulous first birthday for my first two kids, but by the time the third rolled around, well, we ordered some Papa John's pizza, sang Happy Birthday and called it a day.  Not gonna lie, I might have decorated her high chair and had a cute outfit on her just to front like it was way more put together than it really was. :)  And when it comes to breastfeeding, I've done it all...  tried and failed, had two babies that never once had a bottle in their life, and one that weaned herself two weeks before I reached the one year mark when my only goal was to nurse for a year.

I'm a huge breastfeeding advocate- but it's like everything with parenting- I've learned that every woman has a choice and it's their decision.  And I'm not gonna hold it against them if they choose the formula route- just like I hope some women don't hold it against me if I stick a processed chicken nugget in my kids' mouth.  Ya know, it's really whatever floats your boat.  There are days when I am an overachieving A+, on point parent.  There are also days where I'm failing and just trying to get through the day. But at the end of the day if we all put our best foot forward and get a A for effort, we're doing alright.

With my firstborn, I was a nursing mom.  That is until things got complicated and I can see why there are mom's so gung-ho about breastfeeding rights and laws.  I honestly feel like society failed me and I had to throw in the towel because of it.  It started with a 36 hour trip to Hawaii to be a bridesmaid in one of my Bestie's weddings.  After a short flight to Atlanta where I had to pump in a staff office because I couldn't find a bathroom with plugs, flying to Cali, rushing to board a plane for the second flight, and being en route and having a vodka tonic for the first time in eleven months,  I realized my boobs were hard as rocks, hot, and in pain.  I made my way with my handy dandy pump to the airplane bathroom to find out that the electrical socket wasn't powered enough to operate my breast pump.  What happened next wasn't one of my finest moments... ya know, where I hand expressed my knockers to take a little relief off of them all over the lavatory mirror saying, "Take that United Airlines."  Don't worry, I cleaned it up. After my trip to Hawaii, my milk supply forever remained a problem. Fast forward a month or so later, and I returned to work for a couple weeks so we could qualify for a house we were purchasing, and after working twelve hour shifts at a group home where I couldn't exactly pump in front of my bebe kids, nor leave them alone to go AWOL, I lost my milk.  After a few weeks of reeking like maple syrup from Fenugreek and overdosing on Mother's Milk tea, I threw in the towel and started mixing formula to feed my baby (and he's just fine).

So I get it.  I get why women are empowered to lobby and fight for women's rights when it comes to being able to feed our children.  We have a long way to go.  But this week, all hell broke loose at a local Gold's Gym in my hometown where a woman was nursing her two children in the lobby and was asked to move to a sofa in another area because her doing so was making some people uncomfortable.  She then went on a social media kick bashing Gold's and it resulted in a huge nurse-in and protest earlier today. 

Here's the deal.  I was once that woman.  With my second baby, I nursed her for over eighteen months.  I was so proud.  I would whip out a boob anywhere and feed her without a cover (discreetly). My brothers would tell me to "put that thing away" or to "cover up" and I'd reply, "Would you eat with a blanket over your head?" And then I had my third baby- Yes, babies kept coming. :)

I remember nursing her here, there, and everywhere.  I would watch my son's baseball games feeling so content in my chair as my newborn was nursing under a blanket.  And then something happened.  During the next baseball season, my daughter had grown, and would look around when nursing, be distracted, and my boob would sometimes be exposed.  And during one game it hit me.  I looked at my precious son warming up with his team without a care in the world, and as much as I loved the bonding nursing brings, I loved him more.  I got up out of my chair and went to my car to feed my baby.  The very thought of him looking over, becoming mortified at his mom's boob in clear view was enough for me to stop feeding in public since I could no longer do it by keeping my privates private.

Ya see, I get it.  God made boobs to feed your child.  Its natural.  God also made penises for sex and to impregnate women, but my husband doesn't go popping out his boner for the world to see when he gets one.  God made butts for sitting on and for pooping, but you don't go around dropping a deuce in public- and if you do, you might get the nickname of Shit Bush like I did... Calm down people, it only happened once and I was extremely inebriated. My point is, privates are called privates for a reason.  There are times when they need to stay that way.

Look, I love boobs.  I spend hours looking at Dr. Chang's and other plastic surgeons websites because one day, mine will be perky again.  Boobs are a beautiful thing, I'm not a prude and I'm all for women having rights.  I'm all for nursing in public- have at it.  But I'm also a mom that stands for respect.  Respect for myself and respect for others.  So if someone were to come up to me and ask me to please cover up or move to a different area while nursing, I'd gladly do it.  What if your boobs hanging out are upsetting a breast cancer survivor mourning the loss of hers, or what if someone had young kids that personally didn't want them to see your jewels? And what if, by chance, it was just a company trying to take up for their customers and offering you another place to nurse?  There are bigger fish to fry people and other problems in the world.

Gold's Gym of Ashburn, as a pro breastfeeding mama, I'm sorry.  I'm sorry that this whole debacle happened... I feel for ya.  As one of the few establishments that has chosen to offer on-site daycare for women like me that use it simply so I can get a shower without a baby hanging onto my leg, and as a company that promotes women, children, and families all getting healthy inside and out, I am sure you are not against breastfeeding.  And I don't know what trashing your company and a bunch of women showing up to nurse babies- some of which don't even want to feed at that point- does to further women's rights except proving that we all lack things in life, respect being one of them. 

Before I became a mom, I never thought I'd be against women taking a stance for breastfeeding.

But then I became a mom.

And I took a step back and now realize that being a mom has taught me so many things I never saw coming.  Sometimes, our visions of what a perfect world is,  just isn't so, and that being compassionate and rolling with the punches is how ya make the most of your experiences.

Sometimes it's just best to say in your head it, "Suck it" about management and bystanders in general, take one for the team, and let your baby go suck it elsewhere so you can enjoy that special time- We're mom's, we know how to adapt and really, at the end of that day, that's what matters.