It was a cold January day and little Joey and I took a trip to Asda. We were in the queue to pay when Joey started to get a bit peckish – being only 4 months old, this happened a lot. I got his bottle and fed him, thinking nothing of it.
The woman behind me in the queue said to her friend: “She should be ashamed of herself.” I looked back, curious as to who should be ashamed, and realised the woman was referring to me.
“Excuse me?” I said in shocked naivety.
“You should be ashamed of yourself – bottle feeding like that.” She went on for a considerable time that breast is best and harshly criticised “mothers like you”.
I remained calm and merely said: “You don’t know my whole story.” But even this didn’t make her hesitate – the lecture continued. I paid for my shopping and the woman’s last scathing remark was: “you were probably too busy doing post-natal yoga to get back in shape to care about your child” (expletives removed).
I could have fought back and told her where she could shove her unsought opinions. I could have explained to her that after spending two weeks in intensive care after Joey was born, breastfeeding was not an option for me and that Joey was lucky to have me at the other end of the bottle. I left hospital weighing less than seven stone, so any training I was doing was to regain weight and the strength that I needed to look after him.
There will always be judgemental people who want to tell you what to do (hopefully not as venomously as the woman in the queue at Asda). There will always be people who do things in a way you never would and maybe that you don’t even understand. But as the song in Cool Runnings goes: “You’ve got to rise above it.”
I wish everyone would just remember that being a mother is hard and we are all just doing the best job we can. We should cheer each other on rather than knocking each other down.
Later in the day, I decided to take the whole thing as a compliment on my figure and send my personal trainer a thank you note. And actually, Joey always came with me to my exercise classes and my trainer would even bottle feed him too! What would the woman in the queue have had to say about that?