So I’d been walking around Zara in Meadowhall with HQ, trying to find a ‘top’ that goes with a leather skirt.
Not for me I hasten to add.
HQ went to the fitting rooms to try her clothes on and I decided to go and find somewhere to sit, as my slingbacks were killing me.
I found a bench within sight of Zara, just in case my opinions were needed at any point soon, and sat on the end. It was busy in Meadowhall and I didn’t want to sit right in the middle of the bench, as this sometimes puts people off sharing. I just wanted a rest, not to aggressively conquer the darn thing. After all, I’m not Vladimir Putin but I digress…
A woman with a child sat down on the bench to my left. I was going to look over and smile but the woman seemed harassed as she huffed a huffy huff as she sat. I then heard the familiar sound of velcro being unfastened and realised that the mum was preparing to nurse her child. Best not look over.
Awwww. Bless. Probably a very stressful time for both of them. A busy shopping centre on a Saturday afternoon is always hard work, more so with a little ‘un in tow. They seem less stressed now. There’s nothing more natural than a mother nursing her child.
The mum moved a bit closer to me. I couldn’t move further away as I was already on the end of the bench and I reckoned that if I got up and left then she’d probably think I was one of those people who disapproved of breastfeeding in public. Which I’m not.
I immediately became very self-conscious and did everything I could to not look anywhere over to my left. Oddly, my hands became rather cold and instead of rubbing them together to make them warm, I just put up with it. After all a man sitting next to a breastfeeding mum vigorously rubbing his hands together might look a little odd.
I didn’t look over, but I saw from the corner of my eye that the child had massive feet.
The boy was long too. His massive feet were almost on my lap but then T was long when he was a baby, and I certainly wasn’t going to turn round and start up a conversation about height and weight centiles.
People walked past. People walked past staring. Someone looked at the mum nursing her child and then at me. Then someone else did the same. Then again. This happened a lot. Five, six, seven times. Eight. Nine. I stopped counting after ten looks from passers-by. A few looked at the mum and her child, then at me and… hang on. That person was shaking their head. That person had a frown on their face.
Did I just hear someone tut?
I felt like saying something withering to the tutter on the mum’s behalf, defending this parents right to breastfeed in public and shocking the tutter into some grovelling apology for being so judgemental. Then I realised something. People were looking at the mum and then at me, and as she was now sitting very close to me, people must be thinking that we’re a couple
Suddenly I’d acquired a new family.
Then another ‘look’ from someone as they walked past.
That one did an eye roll.
That person shook their head!
Was Meadowhall full of people who disapproved of mums breastfeeding in public?
I was getting angry. I wanted to tell these people to keep their judgemental looks to themselves. How dare they glare and tut at my newly acquired wife and child.
I still felt I couldn’t turn round to look, or comment, or chat to the mum and I was quite glad when she finally moved the child from her lap.
The child got up and as the mum rearranged her clothing I noticed that the child she was nursing must’ve been about 5 or 6. So that’s why we got the looks. That’s why my new family were being eye-rolled and tutted at.
I didn’t know how old the boy was but almost felt compelled to ask. As people obviously thought we were a family I thought it only fair I know how old my new child was.
No. I didn’t ask. I got up off the bench and walked back into Zara and waited for HQ to finish trying on her outfits. I decided I’d stick to being a shopping elf, and wait patiently outside changing rooms in future.
In fact I learnt a few things on Saturday. Never wander off by myself, lest I acquire a new family. If you’re gonna sit on a bench, definitely do a Putin and sit slap bang in the middle, and while shopping on a Saturday in Sheffield Meadowhall is stressful, being on the receiving end of judgemental looks from others is infinitely worse.
If you’ve got an “I got a judgemental look from someone” story then please share with the group. Please tell me how on earth you managed to not poke their eye out.
And thanks for reading.