Saturday, July 19, 2014


There are few things more fascinating or mesmerizing to this world than boobs. They are everywhere. Billboards advertising anything from sneakers to car parts. Magazines. Movies. Music. Our world loves boobs. Flash 'em for beads! Show them off at the beach! At the pool! At the mall! Show us your boobs! That is, unless you are feeding your baby, then FOR GOD'S SAKE WHERE A COVER!

I've been using my boobs for the sick habit of feeding my babies since 2008. When I first started I thought nothing of it. My baby had to eat. His food came from my boobs, so I used them for what I figured God intended them for. I fed him at coffee shops, in restaurants, on public benches. I didn't even wear a cover (gasp). I was so young and naive I didn't even realize I was doing anything wrong. Some people hinted at the use of a nursing cover, telling me where I could buy them, how useful they were. I would innocently reply that my son wouldn't nurse with anything over his head, not picking up on the hints those people were kindly tossing my way. I wore layers, and my shirt usually covered what my baby's head didn't, so I didn't see the need for a cover anyway.

When I first started noticing that I was making other people uncomfortable was when I was feeding my son at a restaurant when a well intentioned friend mentioned she would never feed her hypothetical child in public. How would you go anywhere or do anything? I asked stupidly. She confidently told me if she had to feed said child in public, she would obviously retreat to the nearest restroom. Ew. I said. Would you sit on those toilets? Most don't even have lids or seat covers! What about the flushing? You'd basically be feeding your baby in toilet water. And how could you bear to sit in a bathroom for 20-45 minutes while your friends finish their meals and have to wait for you? How inconvenient. I ignorantly went on and on about how silly it would be to nurse in a restroom when you can easily sit and nurse comfortably in a chair while you eat and/or talk to your friends. She just shook her head.

I had my first child in Asheville, NC. It's a city known for being weird where public breast-feeding and other barbaric practices are fairly normal, so I lived happily in my ignorance for a year or so. Thinking those who thought I was weird, or disturbing, were the strange ones. But when I left my town I noticed I never saw other mothers feeding their babies the strange way I had somehow come to see as normal. There were moms toting bottles, ignoring their tender swollen breasts until they could get to a private place to pump. And a very few brave ones with small, frequent eaters wearing nursing covers, huddled in private-ish corners. Like Eve after tasting the forbidden fruit, I started to become aware of my nakedness. How had I been so unaware of my inconsiderate flashing of flesh? Suddenly the stares became more and more evident to me. But by this point, my son began only nursing before bed and I didn't have to face nursing in public any longer.

When my second son was born, I was much wiser and more aware of other peoples' needs and concerns. I bought a nursing cover, determined that this child would learn to nurse with his head covered. It wasn't until about the third apology I received for someone talking to me while I was breastfeeding (with a nursing cover) that I realized they were not apologizing to me, but for me. And that when women said comments like, "You are so brave, doing that in public!" they were not really complimenting me. While I was comfortable, they were not, and they needed me to be aware of that. And thus began my journey into a much less familiar territory of uncomfortable feeding in public. Rules I was learning: 1)Yes, please happily enjoy your new large breasts by wearing shirts that display them pleasingly. 2) By no means ever expose them while feeding a child. This portrays unnatural behavior, only acceptable in countries where pumps and nursing covers don't yet exist. 3) Please spend hours pumping to make life more convenient to those around you. No one wants to stop and wait for you to nurse, and heaven forbid we catch a glimpse of your areola! Save that for the nudey magazines! 4) Nursing covers are great alternatives to never feeding in public. But please, even if you are using a cover, please refrain from talking to others while doing the deed. Do not draw attention to yourself, and if at all possible, find a private place away from others to retreat to. Great options include: your car, public restrooms, quiet corners (make sure to keep your head down, do not make eye contact or encourage speaking with others, lest some unsuspecting person feel free to walk by and say hello only to realize what you are doing).

I quickly realized that if I was going to go anywhere or do anything, I could not make everyone happy or even comfortable with my boob-feeding habits. I realized I was going to just have to do it anyway. Now as I nurse my third child, I have long since discarded the nursing cover (I know, I know, but for some reason I just can't train my babies to eat in a hot box with ease!), and I nurse when and where I have to. Does it bother me that I get stares or comments? Yeah. My fear is not that I will lose my freedom to feed my baby in public, my discomfort is what this says about what we believe about women's bodies. My worry is what we might be continuing to teach this next generation to believe about women's bodies. My disgust is that we have so sexualized our bodies that we allow no room to use them in the way they were intended. I am not making a statement when I nurse my daughter in public. I am not "taking a stand" or sticking it to the man. I am not looking for attention, nor am I ashamed. I'm just feeding my baby. It's not always comfortable and I often feel like people think I am doing something strange or wrong. But my daughter is healthy and happy, and I am not confined to my home. Although I must admit, I do take courage in the fact that when other kids see me nursing my daughter and they say something like, "Ew! Why is she doing that?" I hear my son say, "What? She's just feeding my sister."

Friday, July 18, 2014


Marriage is difficult. We all know it. We all see it. And yet for some reason we choose to ignore it. I mean, people will say things like, "Marriage is tough!" But that is always quickly followed by, "But sooo worth it." Or something to that extent. When it comes down to it though, we don't really want to believe that marriage is difficult. When it gets too hard, we decide there is something wrong. Most people choose one of two things: to end it, or to "put up" with it. From what I've seen in my life, few people actually push through and truly change it.

Let me pause here for a second and clarify. This is not a judgment piece. I have only been married a little over 6 years, and while we have been through a lot, I'm not about to pretend my husband and I have conquered all hardships, and I'm not about to pass judgment or pretend I know some generalized answer to all marital issues.

Marriage is difficult. Living with another person day in and day out. As much as you love them, you are different and you're not going to see eye to eye on everything (sometimes it may feel like you don't see eye to eye on anything). You're going to feel like you are right about 98.9% of the time. And your spouse will feel the same. This is difficult.

I think the majority of people have this image of marriage that portrays a perfect relationship. One that completes, enriches, and empowers. One that fills your needs (and so of course you automatically fill your spouses needs as well, of course). That's how human relationships work, right? You may snicker to yourself when you read that, because you know better. But when it comes down to it, and it doesn't look like that, isn't your first instinct that it's not right? That maybe it won't last? That maybe it should end?

Marriage is the perfect example of all that is hard about human relationships. Because you can't just walk away. Even ended marriages are a part of you forever (all relationships are, but an ended marriage, whether "good" or "bad," seems to be particularly scarring). Relationships are binding, and while many have positive aspects that make the negative worthwhile, none are perfect arrangements. No real relationship is easy.

So basically, because we are human (aka freakin' messed up), we're not ever going to find a perfect relationship. I think that's ok. I think we need to change our outlook on marriage (and relationships in general). Instead of viewing it as a tool to achieve self worth, happiness, or purpose, perhaps we should try to view it as what it really is? A partnership. Anyone who has had to work with a partner for any extended period of time knows that at some point or another, one of you is going to be pulling a little extra weight. Encouragement, accountability, and commitment is required to make a partnership work and to accomplish whatever it is you are working for. The best partnerships work because both partners have the same end goal. Whether or not their methods are the same, they are both working toward the same thing. The best partnerships work when each partner uses their particular strengths, admit their weaknesses, and use their differences to work together. We are all headed somewhere with our lives, if we choose to walk with a partner, we have to realize it's not going to be all about ourselves (whether you want to see that as a positive or negative thing is up the individual). A good partnership can make even the hardest task doable. A bad partnership can make even the easiest task impossible.

I'm starting to see that what makes a relationship beautiful is not so much the partners as much as the partnership. And a good partnership takes a lot of hard work. Whether or not it's worth it is entirely up to you.