Well, today me and a friend took the kids into town for lunch and a little look around. At the moment I am favouring CJs in Canterbury for lunch out. It’s a little sandwich shop opposite Waterstones off the high street. There’s toys and sofas, it’s pretty cheap, a bit studenty and it’s normally a lot quieter than the bigger chains. Well, it’s quiet until we arrive anyway.
I once went into an M&S cafe on my own with Arthur as we were out shopping and he was desperate for a feed. I found a couple of sofas at the back of the cafe away from all the grumpy looking elderly customers and sat down.
An older couple at the table adjacent to me were just sitting down with their drinks. They were watching me with the baby and smiling, they continued to watch but as they realised that I was positioning the baby for a feed and that they might be about to see a woman breastfeed their expressions soured. They put down their drinks, stood up and just walked out leaving their steaming caramel lattes untouched.
It was pretty weird. I don’t know whether they were disgusted, or trying to give me some space or what but they were watching me with the baby and it’s like as soon as they realised that I was going to breastfeed him they just got up and walked out.
Now, I don’t have a problem with feeding in public. If I don’t feed in public then I’d have to stay in all the time and there’s no way I can do that. I don’t feel embarrassed about it but I think that then, in that moment for whatever reason, I did feel pretty crap.
I try to cover up as much as possible. There’s only really a split second when you are latching a baby on that anyone has to see anything at all.
During the same feed another couple nabbed the table and started talking to me about Arthur. The lady spoke about breastfeeding her babies and how she thinks it’s great and how difficult it can be. Her husband jumped in too,
‘So er when you arrrr when you have to do arrrr,’ vaguely indicates to his chest tracing a figure of eight where his boobs would be, ‘well is it errr quite hard to ahhhh find somewhere private ahhhh you know it’s not really the kind of thing you can do ahhhh in the middle of a cafe?’
‘Ummm? Well, there’s not really anything wrong with feeding your baby in a cafe.’
‘Oh no no, of course ahhh of course yes but you know ahhh if you want some privacy you know?’
‘Well sometimes they put a chair in the toilets next to the baby changing facility. Not everywhere, but in some supermarkets they have chairs.’
‘Yes yes but do you think that there should be more of them? Do you think that’s why more women don’t breastfeed?’
It is at this point in the conversation where I just suddenly feel so tired and I just wish that I hadn’t bothered coming to M&S in the first place (only realised when I arrived that the 20% off sale was bloody online anyway) I look around me and realise that every customer is wearing a beige or grey mack, every customer has a latte of some description (what is it with older people and lattes?) and that underneath their tables, every customer is wearing a pair of expensive and comfortable shoes. Just like the birds in the Alfred Hitchcock film; there is suddenly something rather menacing about the elderly.
‘Well,’ I began, ‘I think there’s a fine line between giving people privacy and making people feel that they’re doing something that should be hidden away.’
‘Yah, well, umm but don’t you think there should be somewhere you could go if you wanted the privacy? If you chose to ahhhhh, you know, be a bit more private about it.’
‘Well, I think that it should be normal. I think that the more people feed in public the more normal it will become. It’s not really a big deal. It shouldn’t really be a big deal.’
The conversation went back and forth like this for a while and when Arthur was done he burped and smiled and wobbled his little head at them which they liked and then we left.
They were a lovely couple. They weren’t trying to make me feel uncomfortable but mainly because of times like that I now choose to feed in places off the high street where the clientele are a little younger and less easily put off their drinks.
Oh, and they do a roast dinner baguette at CJs.
Still trying to lose the baby weight.