I learned my life lessons from 80’s television. If you tapped a cane on the floor right now I would stand up straight. I would grab the back of a chair and lift my chin. In my mind I would hear Debbie Allen saying “You want fame? … Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying. With sweat.”
Some time in the early 1990s I decided that sweatshirts with the neck cut out were maybe not the very best look for me. And I abandoned my dreams for Fame. I hung up my legwarmers and decided Fame wasn’t for me.
A couple of days ago I contributed a picture to The Feminist Breeder’s Normalize Breastfeeding Campaign on Facebook. I chose to send a picture of myself sitting down after an excellent day. Lucy was nursing and I was having a glass of wine. It was the perfect image to reject the idea that nursing mothers have to spend their lives cooped up in a nursery, missing out. Gina’s “offensive” picture featured a piece of bacon and a nursing baby. I thought it was amusing to feature a glass of wine and a nursing baby because Facebook is clearly pro-pictures of people with a drink in their hand.
I have been blogging in my little corner of the Internet for almost three years. It has been a great way for me to hash out my feelings as my life progressed from single parent to a married mother of two. It served as a record of my pregnancy and Emily growing from a teeny little thing to the 7 year old going on 17 that she is today. I have been honest. I have talked openly about my insecurities and my struggles with being a woman and received a lot of “Good for you!” and “Thanks for sharing” and pats on the back.
And then yesterday the picture posted of me having a glass of wine while nursing my baby and within an hour I had that icky “what have I done?” feeling. Comments racked up and the great majority were negative it seemed. These weren’t people that read here and support me. These were strangers sharing misinformation (that breastfeeding and a glass of wine don’t mix) and saying that I was a lousy mother. (My favorite being the woman that pointed out that I was ignoring my baby when I looked at the camera!)
Every day I aim to choose happiness. I choose to see the good and the joy in the smallest moments. It is part of who I am. Yesterday was a test. I kept waiting to feel my stomach flip flop and a tear escape my eyes as I read another comment from a stranger about how I was classless. But it didn’t happen. Because I didn’t need to look very hard to see that there were really only a handful of people shaming me. And they were doing so from a place of lack of knowledge. They really believed that you can’t nurse a baby and have a glass of wine. Shame on them for judging me? Maybe. But don’t we all just do the best we can with the information we’ve got? And for every criticism there were more than a dozen women that said “this picture is great!” or that I looked so relaxed and happy. Or that I had great eyeglasses. (Special thanks to them because amidst a persecution of your character it is important to remind yourself that you are fashionable!)
This morning I am taking the opportunity not to speak to the judgement and the misinformation (largely because the inimitable Amy West has already done so.) Instead I choose to thank my friends and the many strangers that responded on the Facebook thread or on Twitter. So many of you spoke up to say “Hey, you are doing a great job, keep on keeping on.” And really? If I am honest – thank you to the folks that said you can’t have an alcoholic beverage and nurse a baby because it was an excellent platform for dispelling that widely believed myth.
My last thank you goes out to the women and men that spewed the kind of garbage that can only be done from behind the protection of your computer screen. You probably didn’t mean to. But you made this girl with her tiny little blog feel famous! Because you aren’t Internet Famous unless somebody hates you. I am going to have to wear a clean velour sweatsuit every time I leave the house if y’all keep this up. I might even need to bust out that sweatshirt with the neck cut out and some legwarmers. Rumor has it – Fame costs, but I can take it.