I’ve always had a pretty stereotypical relationship with both of my mother-in-laws. Which is to say, not good. I thought that things might get better once I had babies, but sadly that was not the case. Especially, it seems, when it came to breastfeeding. You would not believe the rude, surprising and actually creepy things my mother-in-law said to me when I was breastfeeding. Like, literally to my face. Without remorse.
Her words were shocking, to say the least, and made me feel judged for feeding my baby. What made everything infinitely worse, though, was that these comments came at a time when I felt vulnerable and exposed. In other words, they made me feel like sh*t. I hated breastfeeding in public regardless, so attempting to breastfeed at family gatherings, or even in my own damn living room, became really difficult to do when my mother-in-law was around. She always felt it necessary to voice some unnecessary comment, request that I leave the room, or make a dig at my parenting.
To complicate things, I had no idea if my mother-in-law was shaming the hell out of me because I was breastfeeding, because I was her daughter-in-law, or both. It was probably both, to be honest. I learned to breastfeed or pump in the other room, or I simply chose not to go to family gatherings when she was there. Motherhood is isolating, so the last thing I needed was to feel like I couldn't feed my kid in front of family members. So with that in mind, here are some straight-up creep things my mother-in-law said to me when I was nursing:
"What Are You Doing?"
I am pretty sure it was very, very obvious what I was doing. I had a hungry baby and was latching them to my breast to feed them. It's not shocking. At. All. Still, my mother-in-law felt it necessary to announce to everyone else at family Thanksgiving that I was breastfeeding. Rude, and creepy.
"Can You Put Those Away?"
This one made me feel so objectified. I am a person, and her grandchildren's mom. No, I will not "put my breasts away" when those breasts are feeding my kid. No matter how loudly you express your disgust, they are a vital part of my body and my child's nourishment. Grow up.
"How Much Have Your Breasts Grown?"
At the time I was so creeped out. There was absolutely no way in hell I was going to tell my mother-in-law how much my breasts grew during pregnancy or breastfeeding. As a new, sleep deprived, overwhelmed mom I didn't feel comfortable discussing my bodily changed during pregnancy and postpartum. I might have been a parent, but I still had boundaries, people.
Now, though, I can honestly say I don't care who knows how big or small or lopsided my post-birth boobs are. My left boob is my "party boob," and grew two to three sizes. My right was a slacker, and only grew about one size larger, unless I was really engorged. TMI, I know. Then again, be careful what you wish for.
"What If People See You?"
This made me feel so self-conscious. A better question is why people are trying to see my boobs, especially while I am feeding my baby. She specifically mentioned my husband's creepy uncle and her nephew (who was a little kid), and how I needed to be aware of their presence when I was nursing. I was hard-pressed to understand why she was trying to shame me into not breastfeeding at Christmas dinner.
"My Son Was A Boob Man, Too."
No. No. No. No. No. No. No.
"So, I Thought You Didn't Make Enough Milk?"
If you ask me, it's more than a little bit creepy to bring up your daughter-in-law's breast milk supply issues in front of other people. Thank you for bringing up such a sensitive topic, though, which made me stutter and stumble while attempting to produce a semi-intelligent response. I cried about that comment for days.
"Why Don't You Just Use Formula?"
Um, because I do what I want? Yeah, let's go with that.
I loved combo-feeding my son, and it was none of my mother-in-law's business why I didn't wean him or switch to formula full time. Hell, none of my parenting decisions were (or are) her business.
"Does My Son Know You Are Doing That Here?"
Well, lady, your son doesn't own me or control what I did with my body, so no, he doesn't get a say in how I fed my baby. As a matter of fact, neither do you.
"Can't You Use The Bathroom?"
I can't think of a worse place to feed your baby than a public restroom. So, no, and it was more than a little bit creepy for her to ask me to feed my kid next to someone going number two, and all because she was afraid someone might catch a glimpse of my nipple.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.