Monday, September 1, 2014

Modesty vs Breastfeeding in Church, Pt One

My Answer

I'm having pretty gnarly post-partum issues the past couple of weeks (topic of a later post, PPD in real life). What happened Sunday afternoon was humiliating and brutal and instead of defending my child, I froze. Couldn't say a word. Did NOT cover her, but otherwise? Totally choked. Somehow though, I can't seem to muster the energy to get angry about it. I'm actually pretty f*****g miserable, if you care to know the truth, and I just don't have it in me to get mad about anything that does not fall under the heading of Survival Mode. It occurred to me that I can't be the only person this has happened to, and reading my response to the situation might help someone down the line. So here it is, my calm and prayerfully considered answer to, "Oh my gosh, what are you doing? Can't you cover up?? You're in church!!!"

When you eat lunch with your head under a blanket in the hottest part of the summer, then we can talk about me covering up my nursing child. Until then? Not gonna happen.

Please do not pretend that your concern is for the hypothetical men or children who might see "something inappropriate". It's insulting to all concerned. You are the person confronting me, be honest enough to own your issue.

Be prepared to deal with me ignoring you if I'm not up to debating the finer points of modesty vs. worldly thinking vs. personal responsibility. Because I'm running on fumes, and if I don't trust my mouth I may simply decide not to say anything at all and return my attention to the baby. It happened by accident this time, but on later reflection, it really doesn't seem like all that shabby of a fallback plan.

I am not flaunting myself, vying for attention, or trying to seduce or offend anyone. I am feeding my child, in the way God intended children to be fed.  You are the person looking at a nursing baby and interpreting it as something sexual. Might wanna talk to a pastor (or God or your therapist) about that, but in the meanwhile, stop blaming an infant for your inappropriate thoughts.

Incidentally, the dress I was wearing covers less when it is fully in place. As I have previously received your compliments on said garment, I can only conclude that you approve of the use of breasts as a fashion accessory or a means of drawing physical attraction, but not as the baby-feeding device they were designed to be. Give that some thought, cuz it seems a bit backwards. Also? Pretty sure God knows what my breasts look like, and approves of their use as baby-feeders in His house.

Ana is 10 weeks old, and breast-milk is her only food. You, however, are an adult, and thus you have several options for dealing appropriately with your discomfort.

          A) You can look at my face and continue our conversation. It's really not hard, several of those men & kids you profess such concern for do it every week. Other women too.
          B) You can direct your gaze anywhere else in this rather large room and find someone else to talk to. I promise, I won't get up from my comfortable chair by the wall and follow you about.
          C) You can just keep walking. Again, won't follow, promise.

You will note that deliberately and loudly shaming me, then snarkily commenting "Well FINE, if you're gonna be that way about it" and stalking off in a huff because I do not accede to your demand is nowhere on the list. Again, you are an adult, have enough personal responsibility to address your own moral dilemmas and not expect me to do it for you. Because I won't, not about this. I will not impede my daughter's ability to eat comfortably and breathe freely in order to save you the trouble of exercising two seconds of self-discipline. Same goes for hiding in a bathroom. Ew.

My baby comes first. Before your right to not be offended (which isn't actually a thing, by the way). Before my right to avoid harassment. Before anyone else's needs or wants or whims or sensibilities, my baby comes first.

Part Two explores the larger conversation that needs to be had.

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