Wednesday, May 02, 2012

My wife speaks about breastfeeding in public

Sorry, true believers, this isn't a guest post by Mrs. Bear. But I did get her to comment on the ongoing controversy between me and the Jewish mommy bloggers who think I'm deserving of death by torture for suggesting that breast feeding in public isn't appropriate in every situation. (NOTE: I also said that breast feeding mothers who disagree and choose to nurse, say, during a job interview or papal audience, should never be heckled, hounded or humiliated. My harassers are unwilling or unable to recognize this. More here.)

Anyway, one of my tormentors wanted to know:
If it is wrong to nurse in Shul, what should I do during the year my baby nurses? Stay home?!
So I brought the question to my wife who said: "Usually I just timed it so that I didn't have that issue. My children did not nurse every minute."  Also she nursed in the shul bathroom. She did this by choice. No one threw her out of the sanctuary.  As she puts it (and she put it very forcefully which is why I have used all caps:) "I DO NOT NURSE IN PUBLIC PERIOD"

Now, along with raising kids, my wife works for a living and at a job I'd wager is more stressful and demanding than mommy-blogging. She nursed all of our kids for at least one year, and one of them for almost two years. (Yet: "I would never think to nurse in public.") She also likes to go to shul and among the women in our community is one of the regular attendees. During her several years of nursing she certainly missed plenty of shul. Does she care? No.

Here's her comment: "According to Jewish law, taking care of my child is more important than praying or attending shul. If a kid needs me, all positive commandments are canceled. So a woman who complains that nursing causes her to miss shul has her religious priorities backwards. If she's interesting in serving God, the rule is clear: kids first." 

She continued, "And if she's nursing, she probably isn't davening anyway. So what difference does it make if she stays in her seat, or if she leaves the room?"

Ah, I replied, for some women this isn't about religion. They're just bringing God into this to make it seem like they are caught between nursing and serving Him when really the point is socializing. They want to chat with their friends and if they can't nurse in the ladies section they'll miss out. I reminded my wife that nursing also caused her to miss social moments. Frequently, she left the table in the presence of guests or hosts and missed, what I called, "some really good conversations." Does she care? No.

"What were those conversations about?" she asked.

"I have no idea. I remember they were fun, but I can't tell you what they were about."

"See? How unhappy am I supposed to be about missing a conversation you can't even remember?"

Next, I tried some of the lines my harassers used on her.

"Breasts are made for nursing," I said.

"Yes," she retorted, "breasts are made for nursing -- in private. Just like genitalia are made for elimination and sex - in private."

Ok, how about this one: If a child needs to eat, I have to feed him.

"If a child needs to have his diaper changed, you have to change it -- in private. You don't change diapers in a shul do you?"

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