Blame It on Breastfeeding

Blame It on Breastfeeding

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Tribute to Moms

Blame It on Breastfeeding

Perception is merely reality filtered through the prism of your soul.

Christopher A. Ray

Breastfeeding had been making headlines again. Women around the nation had staged “nurse-in” events at local airports. They held the event to support a mother who was ordered off an airplane for nursing her daughter. I, too, am an ardent supporter of breastfeeding, having nursed all four of my sons. However, giving my children this healthy start has led to an unforeseen consequence—many years after weaning, they still consider me as the fount of all food.

My sixteen-year-old son wandered into the living room a few days ago. He plopped on the sofa and announced, “I’m hungry.” I ignored him.

“Mom, I’m hungry. What can I have to eat?”

“The kitchen is less than six feet away, Ethan,” I pointed out. “Go find something.”

“But, I want you to tell me what to eat,” he said plaintively. Plaintive, in a six-foot-tall teen who shaves, isn’t appealing.

If it was just this son, I wouldn’t feel so concerned. But his fourteen-year-old brother regularly comes home from basketball practice with this greeting, “What’s for dinner?” That’s it. No, “Hi, Mom.” No, “How was your day, Mom?” Just, “What’s for dinner?”

I can’t blame this on my spouse. In twenty years of marriage, my husband has never greeted me with, “What’s for dinner?” He knows his way around the kitchen and can feed himself.

On the drive home from school recently, I mentioned to the boys that their dad had a hard week at work. “Maybe I should work full-time, and let your dad be a stay-at-home dad for a while,” I mused.

It was like all the air was sucked out of the car. “No!” gasped twelve-year-old Zack. “Bad idea, Mom,” his fourteen-year-old brother concurred.

“Why?” I asked.

“We’d starve,” said Alex Zack agreed, “ When I tell Dad I’m hungry, he says, ‘Go fix yourself something to eat!’”

We spent the rest of the drive home in silence. The children, fearful their gravy train might leave the tracks, were subdued, while I absorbed the knowledge that I’m to blame for their lack of survival skills.

After talking with friends whose children feed themselves, I’ve started my New Year off with one goal—to have all four sons be self-feeders by spring. To that end, I’ve posted a list of available snacks on the refrigerator to circumvent the “what’s to eat” question.

A few days into this new way of living, I was feeling much better. I’d kept guilt at bay, reassured by the fact that no one appeared malnourished.

I was working hard at my desk late one night when I felt a small presence beside me. I had a lot to do and very little time, so I just kept working. A sigh breezed past my ear. I looked up into the blue eyes of seven-year-old Sam. “Mom,” he said, “I’m really hungry.”

Knowing he’d walked past his father and past his three brothers to reach me, I took a deep breath. “Sam, there’s a list on the refrigerator and other people who can help you.”

“But, everything tastes better when you make it, Mom,” he said.

I blame it all on breastfeeding.

Cindy Hval

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