Saturday, October 30, 2010

Breasts and Burqas

I have been lucky enough to breastfeed all 4 of my kids and for far longer than the cultural norm would deem acceptable. My final child is still on the breast at the age of 3. I struggled greatly to breastfeed my first child - he was put straight into the NICU at birth for two days so we didn't get to experience that wonderful pivotal just born feed. It took us two weeks to figure it out together. I was absolutely and grittily determined to make it happen but it could have gone either way.

I have always breastfed in public and not given it much thought. I have done it in both California and Sydney. I have done it outside the Vatican (a desperate move with a shrieking jet lagged freaked out 2-year-old). So today when I read on Mama Mia's website about Facebook taking down images of breastfeeding children I was truly stunned - both by Facebooks actions and some of the comments from her blog readers. It is pretty clear that our culture is still terribly conflicted about breastfeeding. A practice that should just be normal, commonplace, everyday becomes embroiled in a controversy about nudity, sexual images, pornography. How can this be?

A child who needs to breastfeed should be no more restricted in where they feed than a child who needs a bottle or dummy. All these actions fulfill a child's needs for both food and/or comfort. Only one of these actions is considered to be something that should happen behind a curtain inside a small cubicle in a shopping centre - a glorified bathroom.

Perhaps before we get in a feminist huff about burqas and headscarves we should take a look at bizzare attitudes that label breastfeeding in public obscene, offensive and on a par with pornographic images.

Almost Perfect Saturday

This Saturday began with a rare treat. Rather than sleeping in while the kids made a mess, or possibly pancakes and a mess, I woke up before the rest of the family and stole a full two-hours of uninterrupted time during daylight hours on the computer. Unprecedented and heavenly.

When the squawks emanating from the house became too loud to ignore, I braced myself for motherhood duties. Expecting chaos, instead I found Ms8 building a puppet theatre and show out of an empty egg carton, plastic spoons and paddle pop sticks. Mr11 was busy preparing a batch of pancake mixture. Mr6 was sound asleep. And Mr3 was sitting up at the table happily observing only daughter's puppet building.

Pancake consumption was a frantic affair with much hurly burly relating to who got first dibs on the much coveted maiden pancake, and just as much hurly burly for those that followed. But there were no physical blows, there were moments of cooperation (I believe there may have been a pancake cut in half) and everybody emerged fed and ready for the rest of the day.

The peaceful morning reached its zenith with my regular Saturday Morning Ritual (blog post coming), followed by the semi-regular Saturday Afternoon Lunch at our favourite Vietnamese Pho restaurant. And finally, the Late Afternoon Session at the dog park. The kids were able to roam relatively freely in a nirvana of dogs, children and unusually friendly people. It felt about as close as one can get in the inner-city to the ideals espoused by the new breed of gurus who advocate freerange and idle parenting.

I would love to report that our perfect Saturday ended with a delightful evening gathered around the piano singing show tunes, or family board game night or other wholesome pleasures. No, it didn't. This is real life after all.

Instead, the day ended with four kids huddled around a computer watching The Incredibles for the 3,786th time. The Mother hunched over her computer writing. The Father scaping together Australia's national dish of spag bol made from (blessed) Paul Newman's sauce. The Dog dirty and exhausted and stinking like a mouldy jumper.

A perfect Saturday.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pancakes, muffins and mama moods

Today I am all aflutter, bursting with excitement at the possibilities ahead of me. Yesterday I was flat as a pancake wondering how I was every going to drag myself out of the hole that I felt my life had become.

What has changed? Absolutely nothing.

This morning I literally leapt out of bed, tickling the small boys on the way, singing loud and irritating melodies to rouse the older munchkins from their slumber, baking muffins when really there was only time for packaged goods, leaving the house without a single cross word or yell.

My kids looked at me in awe. They wondered if they could keep this mum and send back that other one, the cranky snarly mean one. The one that never has time, is always running late, can't find the keys, doesn't have a minute to stop and appreciate the beauty of the people standing right in front of her.

Actually a crepe but it will have to do ;-) 
When my kids are all grown up and have a moment to think back on their childhoods I hope that more often than not they remember me as I was this morning. Happy, playful, loving. That is what they deserve everyday.
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