I knew the second that you walked in that you were going to say something. I’m not sure if it was the stagger in your step, the way your eyes widened oh-so-slightly as you saw my daughter and I sitting in the nursing chair. Maybe it was all of those things, maybe it was just the vibe you gave off, but either way I knew.
I felt myself instinctually curling around my daughter as you heated up your bottle in the microwave. As if my body could physically shield her from the judgement of your stare. Trying to block her innocent form from the daggers you were shooting our way.
If looks could kill, so to speak.
Sure enough, you took the chair next to me and with your nose in the air you asked me with as much ice as you could summon in your voice,
“She’s a bit old for that, don’t you think?”
I took a look down at my 11 month old daughter, who thankfully had no idea of the negative attention that you were surrounding us with and continued nursing with her usual vigor and took a deep breath.
“No, I don’t.” I replied calmly, hoping with everything that I had that you would drop it.
“Oh, so you’re one of those parents.”
I fought the urge to roll my eyes and straightened my shoulders. To be completely honest I was totally ready to give you a piece of my mind. How I had spent months researching the benefits of “attachment parenting”, how I had also don’t lots of research on the “ferber” method.
I was going to tell you that the average age of weaning is actually 4 years old, not 6 months like you’re led to believe.
That bed sharing, while stressful, is also some of the most fun I have ever had. You really shouldn’t knock it until you’ve tried a 3 am dance party.
And yes, maybe I am “one of those parents” but I am not willing to leave my child to cry because I am tired at the end of the day. I’m not going to teach my toddler daughter that her feelings aren’t valid at the tender age of 11 months. We are mammals, and I challenge you to find me another mammal that ignores their childrens cries when they need their parents.
And no, before you ask I don’t think that she will be hyper-dependent. She is a very independent child.
And no again, she wont think that the world revolves around her. She will however know that MY world does.
I took a deep breath and took one look at you, and stopped.
Because you looked exhausted.
Because you looked defeated.
Because maybe, you didn’t have a mom like me. Maybe your mom didn’t teach you to not judge others, that everyone is different, and that if you don’t have anything nice to say that you shouldn’t say anything at all.
So instead of giving you a piece of my mind I said, “I’m sorry, it looks like you’re having a bad day. Are you alright?”
You looked stunned, then slightly ashamed before telling me that you had a long night. I nodded, because while we clearly parent differently we both fight the same battles.
So yes, dear Mom at the mall. I am one of those parents. I am an unapologetic baby wearin’, breast feeding, bed sharing mama. I love my daughter and I know that you love yours.
So maybe, just be a bit more understanding, okay? Remember, if you don’t have something nice to say, it’s best to not say anything at all.
I hope tonight is better for you.