Saturday, April 9, 2011

Good Morning, Baltimore

I never thought I'd be a public nurser. Those moms who casually pull their shirts up in public and latch their squirming children to their chests nonchalantly, like it's as socially acceptable as holding their hand always left me turning away shocked, even after I had nursed my first child for a full year. No, I'm still not one of those moms. I draw the line at full exposure; but, life has forced me to tote my awkward and uncomfortable nursing wrap around with me wherever I go and feed poor baby Maddox wherever we happen to be when hunger strikes. My first little man, Elias had the luxury of a perfectly planned eating schedule that was carefully crafted to happen in the quiet of our home 90% of the time. As the second-born, Maddox does everything according to his family's schedule, and we are a family on the go.

I had a quasi-out-of-body experience when we were in Baltimore, MD last week, traveling with Logan. He was outside on the phone with our bank, dealing with a financial crisis (note: DO NOT use the photo deposit app for the iPhone through Chase Bank if you want to see your funds in the near future) which left me alone with our two children in an unfamiliar city--the youngest of which was screaming for food. I scooted up to the nearest friendly building, an enormous Barnes & Noble near the harbor. After finding no success in locating a ramp, I pulled Elias out of the stroller, threw it to the ground and lugged my children inside, out of the wind. I had half-hoped someone would steel it: Baltimore, while a fantastic city, is not stroller friendly...and umbrella strollers make me walk like a hunchback anyway (do they not make them for people over 5'5"?). Unfortunately, Logan witnessed my tantrum and rescued my abandoned stroller. Once inside I hauled the boys upstairs to the children's section, the one place I thought I might be safe from glaring onlookers, as Maddox was exercising his right to be heard. Hallelujah! A Thomas the Train set was set up in the cars and trains section: in my memory it was glowing in a heavenly light. Yes! Something to occupy Elias, and even a chair for me to sit in! I plopped down with some quick instructions about not running away to Elias and fed Maddox. Only five minutes into his meal, right as I began to think, "hey, I have this under control," Elias said "uh-oh." It's never good when Elias says "uh-oh." Uh-oh is "I dropped the whole roll of toilet paper in the toilet," or "I just poured your cup of milk into this drawer," or "I poked the baby's eye and now he's screaming in pain." That day, in that moment, it was "I just peed my pants and now there's a yellow river flowing beneath Thomas the Train's tracks right here in Barnes & Noble." This is where I seemed to step outside of myself and see myself sitting there, incapacitated by nursing while my oldest son tracked urine all over the children's section of a public bookstore that was all the way across the country from my home. And I laughed. I literally laughed out loud at the fact that there was a time before I had children, that I thought that parenting would be a breeze. How ironic that I remembered that in a lowest-of-low moment. My funds were frozen in some kind of internet black hole, my oldest son was scurrying around in sopping wet pants, my youngest had just screamed his lungs out to the entirety of downtown Baltimore and was now attached to my chest, rendering me helpless to fix any of the aforementioned issues.

The end of that story simply goes that Logan eventually came to rescue me and we worked out our financial issues before having to head back home, but that was not the end of my public nursing exploits. I would later find myself nursing at the table over lunch in a restaurant, in an exhibit at the National Aquarium, on airplanes, and next to a strange man who smelled like garlic in an over-crowded Chicago airport during a 3-hour flight delay. I imagine that won't be my last war story either.

Life is messy, isn't it? Life with kids is messy. Life on the road is messy...and beautiful. I'm so thankful that we get to travel with our kids. I'm so thankful that at the end of the day I laid next to my husband and partner in life and listened to our two beautiful children sleeping. I'm so thankful to have experiences and stories that make up who I am and who I am becoming. And I'm so thankful that I will never see any of those Baltimore Barnes & Noble patrons ever again!