I met a mom from Mongolia!

28 March 2011 at 8:47 am 1 comment

Most readers probably hear the subject of this post and immediately think about breastfeeding: There was that Mothering Magazine article about breastfeeding in Mongolia, after all, and then there was the movie Babies, with a great scene of the Mongolian mom squirting breastmilk onto her baby’s face to moisturize and clean it.

Anyway, last week I was waiting for the campus shuttle bus with Marcus on our way home. Everything was super quiet because it was spring break, but since the daycare was open, I was working either from home or else in a cafe on my own research. There were only three people waiting for the bus when we got there–a man, woman, and a boy who looked about Marcus’s age.

The two little boys stared at each other for awhile, so I nodded at the mother and asked how old the other boy was. They were close in size, but the other boy was three and a half and Marcus is two and a half. The boys continued staring while the mother and I chatted, at first about the daycare Marcus goes to (just half a block from the bus stop) and then about her fellowship program–she’s a visiting scholar from Mongolia–and my teaching.

The bus still hadn’t arrived, and Marcus was getting antsy. “Mommy, I wannna wah-wah,” he said, indicating that he wanted to nurse. While still talking to my new friend (it turned out we had research interests and even a major collaborator in common), I scooped up Marcus and slipped him into the ring sling that I’d already been wearing just in case. He nestled down lower in there, and I latched him on.

“Oh!” the woman said, interrupting herself mid-sentence about research interests. “Breastfeeding?”

“Yes,” I said.

She smiled hugely. “VERY best thing!” she said, “In my country, always, yes. But I thought Americans didn’t. . .?”

I explained that some Americans do, and we had a lovely chat about it–she still nurses her son, “of course,” she said, and she thinks it’s best for his health but also for her as a way to be close to him.

That was actually the most surprising thing to me–among “extended breastfeeders” in the US, it’s rare, in my experience, to hear someone openly admit that breastfeeding benefits her, and gives her closeness with her child. I think because it’s already such a fringe, suspect act, we are cautious about giving voice to those feelings, but here was this Mongolian woman telling me this on a street corner five minutes after we’d met!

We got on the bus, Marcus still nursing, and exchanged warm goodbyes when we parted. Do I have to tell you this completely made my day? Especially since my husband spent most of last night watching that dreadful Adam Sandler movie (“Grown-ups”) that makes fun of a breastfeeding four-year-old. . . Sigh.

–Christina

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