If you look at it right…

I pulled away from the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru and I cried.

I did.

It had been one of those weeks – the ones that seem to feel like they come more frequently now.  The weeks where bad things happen, when people show you their worst, and others show you their best.  Weeks when you shield small eyes from news and try to figure out how to explain to small people why bad things happen, when you don’t really know yourself.  Weeks when so many of the tweets, blog posts, Facebook posts I see are some variation of “hold the ones you love extra tightly tonight”.  It was one of those weeks.

And it was a Monday.  Back into the swing of things.  I had spent nearly an hour, before 8 am, trying to persuade Pickle to get dressed.  He spent much of the morning half-naked, wailing from the stairs that he wanted other pants and he wanted to help Dad with the trash. He was, in typical nearly-3-year-old fashion, unmoved by my calm, rational, suggestion that he needed clothes to help Dad because it was 34 degrees outside, and that he could be helping him right now if he just stopped screaming at me and got dressed in pants of his choosing.  His response? “DON’T EVEN LOOK AT ME! NEVER NEVER!”  Sigh.

So the lady who cut the line at the Dunkin drive-thru really bugged me today.  I can usually let that kind of stuff roll off my back.  I can accept that some people are greedy, some people are selfish and some people make bad choices.  And really, a 30 second delay in me getting an iced coffee isn’t a very big deal.  But today, it annoyed me.  There was a minivan in front of me, and 2 cars behind me when the woman in the silver car jumped the queue.  She just tucked herself in, in front of the minivan lady.  I was annoyed.  I had visions of kindly informing her – from my open window, and loudly – that there was indeed a line, and she had just cut 4 people, and who did she think she was anyway.  It made me grumpy – the idea that she could be oblivious to those around her, to the rules, to the order of things.  It made me grumpy that people act without full consideration of their actions, that people could care so little for the people around them.  And perhaps I projected a bit of my sadness and anger that stemmed from events of the last week onto this woman.  It is hard to understand why people are selfish, why people are stupid.

The line moved up, I placed my order and pulled up behind Ms. Minivan.  I saw the man at the window hand her a Diet Coke, and a bag and off she drove.  I pulled up, and handed over my debit card, but the man at the window refused it.

“The woman in front of you paid for your order,” he said.  “She just said to pay it forward at some point when you’re feeling generous.” He smiled. I was lost in my grumpy train of thought, so his words took a second to register; I’m sure I looked confused.

I mumbled something about how nice that was, and offered to pay for the person behind me, too.  Maybe she paid for the person behind her too; I won’t ever know.

And maybe I’m overtired, or hormonal, or silly, or perhaps just human, but I cried as I drove away.  A few of the tears were stored up from the week before, a few were tears of embarrassment or anger at myself for losing faith in my fellow human beings, even if just for a bit, and a few were tears of thanks, to the woman, and the universe, for teaching me a little bit of redemption and kindness through a cup of iced coffee.

“Once in a while you get shown the light
In the strangest of places if you look at it right”

Don’t Be a Boob.

Here we go again… the breastfeeding in public debate has hit the news again, this time in my little state.

Let’s agree on some things, shall we?

  1. Breastfeeding is a really good thing for those who can and want to. (Though I found this article “The Case Against Breast-Feeding” from The Atlantic really interesting and well-researched.)
  2. Some people are prudes.  Or to put it another way, there is a huge range in the types of things that make people uncomfortable.
  3. Breastfeeding in public is legal in my state (as well it should be!)

Now that we’ve agreed on those three points…

Here’s the story: a woman breastfed her 10-month old at a restaurant.  The hostess did not ask her to stop, but asked her (on behalf of some restaurant patrons) to cover up a bit.

COMMENCE PROTESTS!

While dining out, I would probably find the presence of a loud talker, or a terrible toupee far more distracting and offensive than some boobage.  But I’m not everyone.

Should the sight of some boobage, or even a little bit of a *gasp!* nipple, while you’re trying to eat your crabcakes offend?  Nope.  Boobs are good.  Lots of men like them.  Lots of women don’t give ’em a second thought.  Some men don’t give them a second thought. Some women like them.  I don’t think I know anyone who actively hates breasts. They are breasts.  Everyone has them and half the population have ones with the capability of providing baby sustenance.  Which is pretty cool.

Should a breast-feeding mama be publicly shunned and shamed for doing something as basic as feeding her child?  Especially when she has every right to do so under the law?  Absolutely not.

Now that we’ve agreed on those points…

We’re having the wrong conversation.

I believe the key to good relationships, good communication, and good people-ness is consideration.    I do not need to bend to the whims of others, do as they say, or do as they do, but it is good for the universe if I, at least, consider their points of view, feelings and perspectives.

Yes, in this instance, according to the mom, her baby’s needs trump those of fellow diners.  And it is her right to breastfeed.  But given the fact that other diners had the time to beckon waitstaff, make their complaint, have their complaint passed on to the hostess, and have the hostess request some discretion, I kind of get the feeling there was a lot of boob out, for a lot of time.  Some people – even people who like boobs quite a lot – are made uncomfortable by the sight of breasts (for many reasons including age, temperament, religion, prudidity – I made that up). Perhaps the mama should have considered these other folks, too.    No need to wrap yourself in a shawl, and smother your nursing baby.  All it would have taken is a tug of the shirt, a small shift in her seat, some consideration for how other people feel to make this whole situation a non-issue.

Call me naive, but a little consideration for others isn’t hard.  And it infringes on your rights and desires very little.  I am pretty far from prudish, but there are a lot of natural bodily processes that are amazing, and interesting, but that I’d rather not see.  Or not see much of.

I know it can be a slippery slope.  What’s acceptable? Nudity? Piercings? Vulgar t-shirts? Racist bumper stickers?  For everyone, the threshhold of vulgarity is different.  I think for the vast majority, breastfeeding isn’t seen as vulgar at all.  Because it isn’t.  But I say, when you can be cognizant and respectful of the feelings of others you increase the likelihood that they will be cognizant and respectful of yours.  You may not agree with the boob-prudes at the next table, but you can at least consider them when making your choices.

I’d argue that “the pursuit of happiness” that we’re guaranteed was not meant to be “the pursuit of happiness at all costs with no regard for others!” We’re all on the same little planet here, people. You can make your baby’s life better by breast-feeding, and you can make your neighbor’s life better by shifting a little to the left.  Everybody wins.