Maybe someday Pope Francis' words about feeding little ones will be taken to heart.
As a nursing mom three times over, I’ve had my reservations about breastfeeding my babes in public, especially when they start clawing at me hungrily in church. That’s why I love what Pope Francis always says about nursing: that there’s truly no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed, as breastfeeding is a natural and good thing, not a taboo that should sentence women and children to a back room.
Instead, we should celebrate the gift of motherhood, the gift of children, and meet the needs of our babies as we see fit, just as Mary did for Jesus. Below are some thoughts that cross my mind when I sit in my pew each week, struggling with those clunky nursing covers …
1. I settle into my seat, and the baby starts crying. Why is it that this child goes from perfectly happy to absolutely starving as soon as I sit down?
2. Why do they make these nursing covers with an obvious gap on each side? And why is my baby’s personal mission to remove the cover in any possible way? New idea for a onesie slogan: “No one puts baby under the blanket.”
3. I really hope it’s not time for the Eucharist right now.
4. How did women do this before the glorious inventions of nursing covers, car seats, and pacifiers?
5. I really hope this homily is long enough for my sweet baby to get a full feed. Keep talking, please, Father!
6. Why do I feel so self-conscious when this is how babies have been sustained for thousands of years? I mean, Jesus, Moses, Samuel and countless other biblical figures weren’t weaned until at least 12 months.
7. I really hope it’s not time for the Eucharist right now.
8. Will the Pope’s words ever catch on so that I don’t have to make that trek to the nursing mother’s room ever again? I always feel banished to the back as soon as my little newborn starts rooting.
9. As my baby smacks his lips, enjoying his feeding in a very loud way: Shh, little one, people around me are going to think I’m the one who brought a snack to church!
10. This small act of nourishment reminds me of how dependent we are on Jesus for our spiritual food. No matter the time or the place, we need the word of God to sustain us — and it’s not always convenient, pretty, organized or even “dignified.” But just as I’d never refuse my child if he was hungry, God never refuses us, always filling us with His own Spirit if we simply ask.