Friday, March 7, 2014

This childcare worker's comment made me pull my boy out of daycare.

We aren't perfect. We nurse, but
sometimes he has chocolate.
(How about that blog title? It's like I'm Buzzfeed or something!)

I've always done a lot of things that are apparently considered strange or crunchy, but I haven't given much thought to them. My front yard vegetable garden has been there for almost ten years, and no one's said anything negative about it. My clothes are pretty much always hand-me-downs, and no one's commented that I look homeless. I cut my own hair, and no one says it looks bad. (Maybe my friends are just really polite.)

I also am still nursing my 18-month-old, and no one has said anything to me about it. Well, a couple of family members have reacted with surprise, but not with negativity. Truthfully, I haven't given it much thought. I have no problem nursing my toddler in public sans cover, but it's not meant as activism -- it's just normal.

If you're wondering, I'm still nursing because
  1. I can 
  2. It's not an inconvenience (anymore), as I work out of my home ...
  3. the World Health Organization recommends it until at least age two.
  4. He loves it and 
  5. It's kept him from catching the severe colds that have been rampant this season.
We all know I'm not even close to a perfect mother, but please refer to #1 on the list -- this is something I can do. I'm not a natural at motherhood, like so many of my friends seem to be, but I got the breastfeeding thing down, I tell you.

It's been almost 18 months now, and I've received nothing but positive comments. Until last week. 

It wasn't a really horrible comment, but I found it snarky and way out of line. One of the workers at the wee boy's Mother's Day Out program (where he goes once a week for 4 hours) said that the reason he was having such a hard time with the drop-off was "because you're still breastfeeding." I suspect that she was well-meaning -- or the Pollyanna in me is trying to view it as such -- and I shrugged the comment aside at first. I've been sitting on it for a week, though, and it's only getting more and more upsetting to me.

He's deep in separation anxiety at the moment -- he hates it when I leave the room, much less drop him off somewhere unfamiliar for four hours. I think he'd be that way whether or not I was nursing. It's not like he's never away from me, either, as I have childcare when I'm working.

The comment annoyed me so much that I'm pulling him out of this particular program. I'll talk to the director about it when I calm down, but for now, I just can't take him back there.

What really upsets me, though, is how it could have affected me (and may have affected others). If I weren't so confident in my decision to continue to nurse, a comment like that from an early childhood educator could really turn me off of breastfeeding, which is, I think, a huge shame.

Enough soapboxing from me. Have a cute baby picture. Yesterday he found his shadow! Chased it up a driveway. It was adorable. 
 

22 comments:

  1. Thats really awful that happened. Good for you for waiting to discuss it when you are calmed down (I can't say I would have been able to do the same!)

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    1. Thanks, McCall ... I really can't stand confrontation, especially over sensitive subjects. I'm afraid I would have just yelled or burst into tears if I tried to discuss it last week.

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  2. I nursed my daughter until she was 24 months. She will be 31 03/28/14. She is happy, well adjusted, and very independent. Good for you.

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    1. Wow -- what an achievement. Thanks for the support:)

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  3. I understand the insensitivity of the comment but your reaction seems a bit extreme to me. Perhaps you are around positive people all the time because some random person's opinion doesn't mean squat to me if I don't have a connected relationship with them.

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    1. It's not her opinion that is the problem -- it's her lack of education. As an early childhood worker, she of all people should 1) know that nursing does not cause separation anxiety and that 2) a comment like that could negatively affect a less-informed mother's decision to nurse.
      I totally agree with you, however, that a random person's opinion "doesn't mean squat to me" either. It's just that this wasn't anything to do with "opinion."
      Something I didn't mention in the blog is that this is more like the 4th or 5th catty comment this particular worker has said to either me or my husband. It was my husband, in fact, who first brought her comments to my attention -- he was on the receiving end of more of them than I was. This was the last straw, however. There are plenty of great childcare places out there ... I need to find one of them.

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  4. Dumb Mother's Day out worker. Most 18- 24 month olds have separation problems no matter how they get their meals. If she hasn't encountered this before, she must be very new at it or very unobservant or has some other issue. If she was trying to be helpful, she wasn't really; don't worry about it. What is the culture of that MDO? It may be that most people who use it don'
    t do what you are doing so that's a go-to solution for them. No doubt another mother somewhere is being told that her child wouldn't be having problems had it been nursed longer. Everybody has an opinion, as you well know. It doesn't make them right. Go with your gut. You've been right so far . Your little guy is doing great!
    My oldest stopped nursing at 9 mos and we had a terrible time when I sent him to a similar program when he was around 2, Luckily, the wonderful lady in charge of his room was determined to help him adjust, and he did. Had nothing to do with breastfeeding.
    If you feel you were being admonished or criticized, I would say something. I'm guessing that it was supposed to be helpful. If it was the MDO I am thinking it might be, they might be a little more old school (not old school enough, though ;) )

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    1. I think you're right that it was SUPPOSED to be helpful, but this particular woman has a way of cattily criticizing both me and my husband ... we are over it. And yes, it's probably the one you're thinking of.

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  5. I was going to try to make it breastfeeding my first son for 6 months--I made it 17, my daughter 21 months and my last son, 24. It was my, now ex, husband that made the worst comments and was the least supportive. Brava to you!

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    1. Well-done! How frustrating that must have been for you though:(

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  6. This is terrible!!! I won't tell you how long I nursed my youngest, but many people were appalled. But as you noted, the WHO recommends 2 years. This person was probably well-meaning but I would guess she did not nurse any children herself. And you are right - as a worker in a daycare, she should know better. She should also know that all kids go through separation anxiety at some point.

    BUT - you will get these kind of comments from those who do not understand healthy child development alot - I know from experience. You need to come up with some catchy response and practice it so you are not caught off guard, like "I promise you he will wean before 1st grade" or "I guess I will have to go along on the Cub Scout camp outs to nurse" or "the spirit of Joan Crawford keeps telling me the same thing" You can diffuse the situation with humor or at least make the other person speechless.

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    1. Thanks for this, Kathie. It made me laugh -- a LOT.
      Thinking of you and your family. I know it's been a bad week for you:(

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  7. Gosh I wonder what my little's issue is then per the educator since he's FREAKS at church nursery drop off weekly and our monthly MOPS drop off since I couldn't BF due to PCOS. That's insane and she should have known better. Shame on her and good for you!

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    1. :) I think she should have known better too!

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  8. As a childcare provider myself, it is completely age appropriate for you son to have separation anxiety. Breastfeeding has absolutely nothing to do with it. It is the childcare providers job to help transition and soothe the child not comment on a private family matter. Thank you for your selflessness in providing for you sweet babe.

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  9. Hey Brigid! I nursed my oldest until she was nearly 3. She is about to be 5 now and has never at any time shown ANY separation anxiety. She is very independent and other than a continued fascination with my breasts, is well adjusted. I think every kid is just different. I also think it shows what a wonderful and nurturing mother you must be that your son doesn't want to leave your side:) Much love to you and your family! Corey

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    1. I love this. Thanks, Corey -- hope you are well:) xoxo

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  10. I can't speak for YOUR area, but most of the workers at those type of programs around here are volunteers and not necessarily educated educators. These volunteers are often mothers and grandmothers from the church who just love children. They may be trained how to handle emergencies, but not necessarily trained in child development or child psychology. Shop around for a PRESCHOOL program for him that does have its teachers trained in those areas. ASK what kind of training workers have and if it is ongoing.

    Hopefully that was just a suggestion on her part (that he was afraid you wouldn't be there when he's hungry) about his separation and that she meant well and not trying to be snarky/judgemental, though only you know all that has happened. And DO speak with whoever is in charge - that person needs to know what kind of impression that worker is giving. Do it as constructive criticism and not as a raging mama bear (I know you are capable of BOTH! LOL)

    Good luck!

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    1. Thanks and totally agree about preschool -- completely out of our budget right now though. I wish we could so the MDO twice a week because I think it would help his anxiety. But it's gotta wait unfortunately -- digging out from a few bad years. I really just need a few hours a week to get mental health break.

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  11. anywhere from 6 months to 4 years is an expected time period for separation anxiety. totally normal. and has nothing to do with whether or not a child is still breastfed. i'm with you - clearly this person doesn't know enough about childhood development (or can't keep her own issues/judgment to herself) to be caring for your child.

    i nursed my eldest until he was 15 months. my youngest nursed until 3.5 years old. keep doing what you're doing as long as you want!

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