August is National Immunization Awareness Month, as well as Psoriasis Awareness Month. September will bring National Chiari Malformation Awareness Month, National Guide Dog Month, National Hispanic Heritage Month, National Honey Month, National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and National Preparedness Month.
I would like to put out there that I support you regardless of your choices around immunization; the state of your skin, brain, ovaries, or disaster preparedness; whether or not you feel guide dogs or honey are important; and if you happen to not be Hispanic. I am here for you.
“Why,” you might be saying, “I understand that the existence of those commemorative weeks does not constitute a judgement on my person, actions, or beliefs.” That seems to be a very reasonable response. So why does World Breastfeeding Week generate a campaign to demonstrate to moms that they’re supported regardless of how they feed their babies?
I really hope that it’s evident by my words and actions that I support moms, regardless of how their babies are fed. What matters to me is: a) that a baby is being fed and b) that a mother/parent is happy with the way a baby is being fed. When I read, yet again, about how breastfeeding advocates are judging moms, why, I feel a bit judged.
All moms (and parents) need support. This should be self-evident. Moms should also feel free to celebrate their successes without feeling bad for having them, and without being looked down upon because they’re not, in the next breath, trying to make sure that no one feels offended that they’re celebrating. I can’t recall the last time I heard a speech from an athlete about how I shouldn’t feel bad that I’m not an athlete, too. When I’m riding my bike and people are passing me at high speeds while I’m huffing and puffing up a hill, I try to focus on how I’m doing my best, rather than assuming that everyone who passes me thinks I should get off the trail.
When I breastfeed my babies, it doesn’t mean I’m breastfeeding at you. When I talk about how to help make sure your breastfeeding relationship will be successful, I’m not criticizing you for not knowing that in the first place. When I go to McDonald’s, I’m not looking down at your organic quinoa burger. When I’m posting about World Breastfeeding Week in an attempt to empower breastfeeding families and raise awareness of how to make breastfeeding successful, it is not an underhanded attempt to make someone feel bad about not breastfeeding.
Oh, gosh, do I support moms. I support you all. But I also think, just maybe, it’s okay for breastfeeding advocates to take a week to strut their stuff and get out their message without having to apologize for it. After all, we’re not going to create a countercampaign to make sure that everyone knows that non-Hispanic people are human, too, even during the month of September.
The aim of this campaign is wonderful. The timing? Not so much.