Friday, January 18, 2008


My friend Kim and I took our kids to the See Saw Center this morning, in an attempt to escape from the doldrums of a typical January day in Pittsburgh (grey, unbearably cold, sometimes rain or snow- completely unfit for outdoor human existence). While Benjamin, Anna, and Kate scaled the jungle gyms, I glanced ahead of me to see a young woman wearing a newish baby on the front of her body. As I admired her sling, I noticed that, as she circled the room, chasing after her toddler, she was nursing, very openly and with complete confidence in her right to do so. Kim and I conferred about how wonderful it was to see a mother meeting the needs of her baby so honestly and without shame. So, as she brushed by us, we could not help but to praise her, out loud, two nursing moms to another. We so wanted her to know that, what she may have thought was a simple solution to parenting multiple children at the same time, was actually a revolutionary act of courage in a society where women are often made to feel shame and humiliation for bearing their breasts as a means of nourishing an infant rather than for sexual pleasure. As strangers to her, we will never know how our words of encouragement may have resonated within her- maybe she took them for what they were and went about her life in the usual manner; or maybe those words were just what she needed to hear, on a miserable morning, where the simple act of feeding her baby may have seemed insurmountable when coupled with the task of parenting a toddler as well. Maybe in the past she had faced criticism from others who would have wanted her to hide or sit in a dirty bathroom stall (for those of us who have chosen to breastfeed our children, this is certainly more common than it should be), and our kindness felt like an unexpected but treasured gift and would allow her to shine in other ways in her life.

Mother Theresa has a quote whose semantics are so simple but whose intentions, if put to use, are life-changing: "Do no great things, only small things with great love." Genuine words of praise, complements, though seemingly small, allow each and every one of us, no matter our social status or background, to have a positive impact on the whole world, every day.


jen said...

I would suspect you made her day. And who knows that she may have been having a very bad one and you helped her stay commited. It is easy to say a kind word to someone and yet we often fail to do it. I wonder what holds us back. Maybe because of the few people that reacted unkindly. What a shame that is. I am glad you took the risk.


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Forty-three year-old, mother and staunch advocate of four young children, passionate warrior of truth and self, finding the soul in each day, sharing my struggles and triumphs as I live them. Mostly I do this for me, so my thoughts don't race as much at night as they used to. But I also give this to those of you who need to know, in any or every way, that you are not alone.

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