When Grace was just six months old we ventured, as we did most days, to the mall. I would dress her up in the sweetest outfit, all co-ordinated and seasonal and we would be out the door before I had time to realize that I hadn't really remembered to get dressed that day but had, instead, slept in my clothes. We drove to the mall from our tiny cottage-turned-home that is nestled in the part of town where the rich live and the rest of us live in their former cottages. The drive was mercifully short because I had begun equating lost hours of sleep as equally hard on your senses as alcohol. So, by my calculation, I was a third of the way through a bottle of Jack before I walked out the door. In that four minutes, of sleep-deprived driving with my infant, I debated the merits of always sleeping in my clothes. What a happy accident to discover such a time-saving and laundry-sparing initiative. I made up my mind to share my genius with my friends later that day as we were planning on getting together to complain about our husbands.
The mall appeared and I took my usual spot near the door. The sign read expecting mothers or mothers of infants three months or less. I heaved my six month old buddha baby out of her carseat and secretly hoped someone would comment on my blatant disregard for the terms of the sign. I had already rehearsed my answer. They would say: "Hey, you can't park there unless you're pregnant or your baby is three months or less." (Yes, they would be that literal and boring about their attack.) Then I would say, "Come closer." And as they moved closer I would take my index finger and poke them in the forehead just hard enough for their head to snap back a little. Then I would whisper: "Thanks for your concern." It was brilliant to me but remember I was hammered and it wasn't yet noon.
Into the mall we went. Straight to the nursing room if Grace had her way, or straight to the bathroom if I had mine. We were a fine pair, the two us. Growly and quiet. I got my way that day because I was bigger and she was just a baby. Soon, it was off to the nursing room (for those of you who don't know what that is, it is a little room they put near the grotesque mall bathroom because nursing women are considered just as offensive as public urination) and as we took our seat I realized two things. First, I had on two different shoes. A cute wedge heel that I wasn't entirely sure I owned and a ballet flat. Secondly, I didn't give a shit.
Grace ate and I closed my eyes so I wouldn't have to speak to the other shunned women sitting with her baby in the chair beside me. Even though it might seem like we'd bond over our predicament, I was too tired and she had done her hair so I knew we could never be friends, anyway.
I hated breastfeeding, you know. Like, really hated it. Resented the fact that I was constantly attached to this baby with an attitude not unlike my own. I would have nightmares about getting stuck far away from her and her starving. I obsessed about being her only food source and I tried desperately to get her to take a bottle. Pumped milk, formula, water, whatever. I just needed her to feed from something else. My attitude towards breastfeeding was really popular among the mommy groups so I made sure to carry around baby bottles full of diet coke and hang them from the stroller just to make sure those righteous super moms wouldn't talk to us. Anyway, yes, back to my story.
Grace finished feeding, or rather I rammed my thumb into her mouth to break the painful suction and off we went. I didn't bother saying goodbye to my seat mate because she was applying lipstick and I wasn't sure I could cope if she stood up to reveal a flat stomach, too. Into the ridiculously expensive stroller that I just needed to own, and down the mall we headed. We no sooner made it to the food court when I heard someone say: "What's wrong with her?"
To be continued...
Grace and Kate's mom. (Shanell)