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Friday, May 02, 2014

In Support of Nursing Mothers

I painted this portrait almost thirty years ago. A friend agreed to pose for me with her baby. I took several photos and used those as my references. I had longed to capture the sweet moment of a mother nursing her infant because I had experienced it in caring for my own three daughters.

There are mothers who cannot nurse their babies and there are mothers who do not wish to do so. In this fast-paced world, women hold down a full-time jobs and few companies have lenient policies that allow their employees time off for motherhood, which is a shame.

I was fortunate. My husband carried the burden of working full time while I stayed home for several years to care for our daughters. We didn't go on grand vacations--in fact, we didn't go anywhere. We bought used cars and a lot of other used stuff. Whatever extra money we had, we put into our daughters' college funds.

I nursed each of my daughters for an entire year. I do not regret that time. I cherish the memories.

There are those who think this is a sexually explicit picture. I feel sorry for them. There are few activities sweeter or more innocent than breast-feeding an infant. Breast milk is an all-natural food for infants. It's free, too.

I was breastfed. I like to think I gathered up some of my mother's creativity that way. When I was nursing my own daughters, I dreamed up several books.

Mother's Day is nine days away. Mothers everywhere will get cards, phone calls, presents, and be treated to dinner. I like all that, too. However, in addition to being able to give birth to my daughters, the most wondrous gift I ever received was the time to nurse my babies.

It was a great blessing.

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