Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dignity, thy name is not "Mother"

Last week, I took Jack to “Wiggle Words” at a local library, which is basically a sing-a-long session for kids from 0-23 months. My cousin has a son two months younger than Jack, and we took our babies in order to meet other moms in the area. We didn’t really expect the boys to get much out of the session, but Jack surprised me and spent the whole time with big wide eyes, thoroughly enraptured. And we also met some play group organizers, so success on both fronts!

After the class, my cousin and I went to get bagels from the Bruegger’s across the street. Because I had to nurse Jack, we chose a table in the back section of the restaurant where there were no people. I am still far from expert at nursing in public. I can’t figure out how to get him started while under the blanket because I need to see what’s going on. Add to this the fact that he pops off frequently for a little look-see and a chat, and I end up spending most of the time with the blanket hanging uselessly from my shoulder or, more likely, pooled on the floor.

So when Jack popped off for the tenth time that session, I gave up and stopped pretending that the blanket was in any way assisting me in keeping my modesty. “It’s a good thing this room is empty,” I said to my cousin, as I helped Jack re-latch. At that exact moment, two construction workers walked by our table on their way to the back door. Two male construction workers.

“Don’t worry about it,” one of them said to me. “Seen one, seen ‘em all.” And they went merrily on their way. (And no, they did not seem extra merry.)

Those of you without children probably think that I was terribly embarrassed by this incident, but the moms out there know that, oddly enough, I wasn’t. Something about giving birth strips a person of any normal sense of personal modesty and dignity. I am reminded of an anecdote Erma Bombeck once wrote about after she gave birth to her first child. She was worried about the way something looked, so she went out into the hall and opened up her shirt to the first official looking person she found. “Does this look normal to you?” she said.

Unfortunately, he was a janitor.

1 comment:

maggie said...

I am actually pretty nervous about the absolute loss of dignity that comes with giving birth. People say you don't care, but I sit here thinking, "Actually, I TOTALLY THINK I AM GOING TO CARE." But nursing, that doesn't bother me. (Yet, anyway!) I get really annoyed when people act like nursing mothers are causing some kind of Scene. Get over yourselves! I kind of think the construction worker's comment was tres awesome.