In Meg Wolitzer’s brilliant novel, The Ten Year Nap, there’s a scene where a bunch of NYC mothers are gathered in a cafe. One leaves her baby with the others for a moment, and the baby starts crying. To calm the baby down, the mother holding the baby impulsively opens her shirt and starts nursing to the horror of the other mothers. Which is sort of like what happened today.
After my daughter’s open class at the deaf school, there was a meeting. There are currently three nursing mothers in the elementary school. One came in with two babies – her own, in a sling, and another mother’s, on her hip. Apparently, the grandfather was supposed to be looking after the second baby while her mother was at work, but he ditched the baby with the sling mother. The baby started crying. She looked at me for awhile, but no matter who she looked at, she cried. I don’t think it was me this time.
No one seemed to know when the baby’s mother would be back. Some other mothers changed her diaper and tried to spoon feed her, but she wouldn’t stop crying. Finally, the mother with the sling handed her own baby over to another mother and nursed the crying baby.
Perhaps I am outing myself here as a goody-goody Midwestern conservative mom, but I have to say that I was shocked. The other mothers went on about the power of breast milk (the baby did finally calm down after that) and seemed totally nonplussed. Even the baby’s real mother, when she finally showed up, seemed completely unphased by the whole thing.
Me, I would have been livid.