My babywearing witch costume this year

Halloween time. I have such mixed feelings about the holiday these days. I used to love it as a child but now as a parent, it causes me stress. The rampant consumerism, waste, candy. I also have a problem with perfectionism sometimes, trying to make things memorable, beautiful, you know? But I try to remember that my parents kept it low key and I still loved it. The girls selected their costumes and that’s it. We might carve pumpkins, trick or treat, and bake a pie. Put a fake bat outside. That’s it.

Anyway, I had such a hard time trying to figure out what to wear this year. I don’t like to spend money buying things I’m just going to wear once and I’m not really not into being crafty (unless the rare mood hits) so it has to be super easy to make if I’m going to do anything myself. I was thinking about going 70s, wearing my mom’s epic old clothes, and having my baby be That 70s Baby, wearing his papa’s old baby clothes, but then I realized I’d have to wear heels to keep the dress off the ground, might fall over while babywearing, and Quint probably wouldn’t want to wear clothes anyway. So, a witch I was! I found a hat at the thrift store for a few bucks and already had the black dress and jewelry. And Quint, as expected, demanded to be his usual nudist self.

Here I am wearing Quint this evening.

[Photo by my friend Perli Po.]

And of course he was nursing all evening but I’ll post a photo of that later. I assume I’ll be the same witch in a few days on Halloween as well. Except I was planning on selling this black Ergo tomorrow. What to do, what to do.

What’s your costume this year? Will you be babywearing and breastfeeding in costume?



Why are people uncomfortable with naked babies?

“I don’t want my child seeing your child naked.”

I’m still shaking my head at an incident that happened at one of our favorite parks in Berkeley yesterday.

A mother told me that to my face about my toddler son. She was “protecting” her under 5 year old child, a boy, I believe, but why she felt that way or what was going through her mind but I will never know. I was shocked but quickly and confidently responded with Berkeley’s law protecting children from unnecessary body shaming: Any person ten years old or younger is allowed to be naked in public. (13.32.020) Why? Their skin isn’t unacceptable, indecent, or lewd. They are just children. That law also protects mothers breastfeeding in public from rude people telling them to “cover up and stop disgracing themselves” like a police officer in Nebraska did earlier this week. I think the thought processes are the same. Bare skin is unacceptable, especially “private” parts, and anyone breaking the “rules” should be shamed.

She said she wasn’t aware of the law and didn’t say another word.

This was my offending child, with his big sister, playing hide and go seek with their friends.

Why are people uncomfortable with naked babies and young children?

I can’t pretend to know all of the reasons people are uncomfortable but I believe much of it is rooted in religion, about our bare skin being shameful or something to hide, or too pure so it must be hidden. They think that it’s against good morals and is disrespecting one’s body to be naked. Clearly, I don’t buy into any of that. Others may have had an experience with a sexual predator, or have uncomfortable feelings from their own childhood, or have thoughts themselves that make them feel aroused. Some parents, I have found, find my children’s freedom of choice an inconvenience. They don’t want my naked and barefooted children around theirs because their children immediately start stripping down and they have to fight with their kids to keep them clothed. That’s agitating for them. They either have to give up and break their own rules or stay firm and deal with the crying.

And of course, many American parents are fearful of pedophiles around every corner, getting off seeing kids, and are worried about strangers snatching up their kids, taking photos or videos of them, or following them home. I am aware of these concerns and the risks but I choose to educate my children instead of living in fear and shame.

Most child sexual abusers do not find their victims by frequenting schoolyards and playgrounds. Sex offenders are not allowed to be within a certain distance of parks, and if they are, because they’re breaking the law or not registered yet, it doesn’t matter if the child is clothed or not, they will select who they feel like and have their thoughts. Period. So targeting strangers at the park really isn’t helpful. If we’ve learned anything about sexual predators, they are usually someone the child knows. Those that say a child should only be naked in the privacy of their own home or only around family to be safe from harm should learn that the abuse happens at home, not at the park. 90% of child victims know their offender, with almost half of the offenders being a family member.

Regardless, the law sides with allowing children being comfortable with their bodies and just be kids. Reason and common sense over fear or morality pushing.

How do I move forward in a positive way from here?

I decided to share my incident, the law, and my thoughts about letting kids be kids here so others may benefit. I hope I left a positive impression on the mother and her family. Perhaps being aware of the protection that is afforded children will help her see the inherent innocence of bare skinned children instead of feeling defensive or awkward about it. If she’s got her own thing going on, fine, but telling others to cover up isn’t okay.

My thoughts are simple. We are animals. Humans don’t need to get all pretentious or overly worried about bare skin. We all have skin and naked bodies under our clothes. We shouldn’t scold kids for being themselves and enjoying nature, the sun, and the wind on their bodies. They are not born with an inherent desire to wear clothes and until they start feeling like they need to cover up (or it’s a place people are expected to wear clothes, like the bank, you know – I do have some limits), I let them enjoy their skin and the freedom. It’s an important part of their childhood development.

How have you responded to unnecessary comments about your children?

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Out & About: Live Oak Park

Summer seems to have ended. The busy crowds are gone. Children are tucked back into school. This is my favorite time of year though. It’s still warm and I don’t have to worry about showing up some place wonderful and being unable to find a parking spot, or feeling cramped because too many people had the same great idea.

My children really enjoy Live Oak Park in  Berkeley because of the stream that runs though it, the bridges, and the bushes they can play in.

Here they are yesterday, walking around in the water, collecting sticks and inspecting rocks and bugs.

[Breastfeeding my toddler]

And earlier this year.

My thoughts on this park:

It’s definitely a wonderful park to put on the rotation. There is a grassy field for running and a playground area for those that want that. I generally try to avoid the playground areas because, while the kids have a blast, I think they’re just mentally draining for me. I can’t be at them for as long as I can be in natural areas. I start feeling restless or stressed or just exhausted. Someone always wants me to push them on the swing or I have to help them work through some sharing issues with another kid, always something, you know? But being under the trees, barefoot in the water calms me, relaxes me and the kids are much more self-sufficient. They do play pretend for hours, collect little things here and there, and just explore to their heart’s content. They don’t need me much.

The only downside to this stream is that it’s in the city and I think some people like to drink and throw their trash under one of the bridges. The more accessible areas are pretty clean but if your kids push the limits and go farther than others, be sure to teach them how to watch where they step and you might want to do a quick glass and trash pick up with them. I think we’re just going to start bringing a spare bucket to clean up the water areas we play in when we arrive. It’s a shame people feel the need to litter.

Have you been to Live Oak Park? Where is your favorite stream or creek?

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Las Vegas airport tells mom to pump in the bathroom

Another airport has been reported for telling a mom to pump in the bathroom. LAS needs to do some work to support families flying in and out of Las Vegas. No one should be told to pump food for a child in a bathroom. I

This was the tweet posted on twitter by Jill earlier today.

Earlier this week, a United Airlines employee at Dulles Airport in Virginia made the news for telling a mother to pump either in the bathroom or the pet relief area. Dulles Airport won’t have a lactation/pumping room until the end of the year. How is that okay?

[Liz @lizabethmeagher's tweet. My FB share.]

How can you help?

  • Give Jill @JGWheeler2005 and Liz @lizabethmeagher some support on twitter.
  • Respectfully let McCarran airport management know how this makes you feel, how they can make amends. Airport Administration: 702.261.5100
  • Contact Dulles Airport.
  • Ask your local airport if they have proper accommodations for lactating women.

Have you ever breastfed or pumped at an airport? Did they have a lactation room or how were you treated?

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Why do bullies attack moms for their brelfies?

I took this breastfeeding selfie earlier today while out in nature with my three kids. My toddler nurses on cue most of the day. Sometimes I take a photo to capture the sweet moment.

[Breastfeeding my 20-month-old son]

Jessie James Decker does the same thing. Lots of moms do. It’s the new normal. Anyway, she posted a ‎brelfie‬ today and when the trolls came out to attack her, saying she posed it or that she shouldn’t post breastfeeding photos online, she posted another one without shame and called them out.

Good for her!

Breastfeeding is something to support, appreciate, applaud, never condemn. Women will not be controlled or told what they can and can’t do with their bodies and their photos. Breastfeeding selfies might not be everyone’s cup of tea, something they’d do themselves at that moment, but why do people feel the need to get nasty? I know I received all manner of disgusting to violent comments when one of my brelfies went worldwide last year. But why? I suppose there are trolls typing violently against things they disapprove of all day long but why are women and children targeted? If they don’t like it, they should just move along and do what they want with their own bodies instead of telling others what to do with theirs. And perhaps they should think about why they feel that way. I know seeing breastfeeding used to make me feel very uncomfortable so I can understand the squeamishness. But I don’t understand where the hate comes from, the blatant discrimination women face every single day for breastfeeding in public or sharing their lives as breastfeeding mothers online. With all the sadness and hate all over the news and social media, seeing the love, the bonding, the nourishment of our species shouldn’t be shocking or offensive. If both men and women breastfed, no one in the world would ever harass a nursing parent, would they? If women’s nipples and breasts weren’t shamed, criminalized, oversexualized, photos like this wouldn’t ever garner negative attention.

Let’s support women. Mothers. Children. Families. Humanity.

Have you ever shared a brelfie online? What was the response by your friends and family? Why do you think people attack women for sharing their photos? 

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Out & About: Redwood Park in the fall

We had a hiking/biking date with our friends at Redwood Park in Oakland last month. It felt wonderful to be under the big trees, watching the kids roam while chatting with friends.

My nearly 6-year-old biked around and showed me her new skill of biking one handed.And hanging upside down in a tree.

Fall colors.

Breastfeeding my toddler.

This is one of our favorite parks in the East Bay Area. At certain times of year, there are beautiful mushrooms and swarms of lady bugs for the kids to inspect.

Have you been to Redwood Park? Where did you NIP this week?

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Some snaps of our September

I’m completely out of the routine of blogging on a daily or even weekly basis since I took a month long break in August. I spent my days with my children and my evenings with my husband, hardly ever cracking open my laptop. But we did so much fun stuff that I’d like to share a few photos of our month.

We went to the Eat Real Festival in Oakland’s Jack London Square.

And the Heirloom Festival in Santa Rosa.

We go for the good food and live music.

We spent some quality days at Lake Anza, Lake Tahoe, and the San Pablo Reservoir.

Biking in the Redwoods.

My kids had a blast going bowling.

And here are just every day moments.

My girls chopping and juicing.

I’m pretty proud of them, how self-sufficient and capable they are. It’s hard to not worry when they’re wielding knives but it’s a skill they’ve been working on for years with just one tiny cut for one of my girls.

Quint uses stools and chairs to get what he wants in the kitchen now. His favorite thing to do is find screw drivers and “fix” this bubble machine.

I took some 19-month-old photos of him as well.

My eldest snuggling with her baby brother.

And painting in the window one morning.

All in all, it was a lovely month.

How was your September?

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