Thursday, April 7, 2011

NURSING TODDLER TAKES ON TOWN MEETING

Cayce for Bell Ringer 2012

So the upshot is that baby and I did make it to Town Meeting on night number two, the night we really needed to be there to cast our vote on Article 59, an article that, had it passed, would have kept any plans for such a dramatic alteration of downtown Nantucket as the building of a four story parking garage in the hands of the voters. 

There were many moments during our lively stay when I seriously questioned my choice to bring him.  He was of course the only small child in attendance, and the moment his bright voice began to percolate out over the dour, over serious air of the meeting’s formalities I thought, oh dear, we will be taking many long walks down the Hall of The Whale. (This is the main hall of the high school building, where the full skeleton of a right whale is hung.) 

The article was said to be arising an hour into the meeting, but of course, as is typical of Town Meeting, the prior articles were also argued over at great length, so the wait until the article that we were there for, that really needed my vote,  was much longer than hoped.

Many people in attendance were unbothered by Cayce’s amplified chatter, which seemed to interject a sense of levity into the proceedings.  But there were a few old timers who were already hard of hearing and did not like the distraction.  We got more than a few hostile glances.  But I think I did quite a good job of staying on my toes and keeping my son out of peoples’ hair without completely stifling him, which he would have loudly protested, anyway.  We sat toward the back with some friends, and there was a partition wall, behind which we could go to nurse in privacy and relative darkness while still being able to hear the discussions.  There were also some chairs, and stairs, and various things for Cayce to explore back there out of view of the audience and the moderator and all the sitting members of the various boards which run the town. 

Cayce hung in with me long enough to cast my vote.  Having a small child did not keep me from performing my civic duty.  Okay, we didn’t get to go to all three nights and stay for all of the articles, but we managed a great deal very well, considering our current situation.  While there were some disapproving looks, I overall felt the support of so many of my friends and community members.  People later commented on how well my one and a half year old handled his early exposure to civic participation.  

It makes me think about my mother’s recent comment, after Cayce and I had traveled to the mainland and back and accomplished getting Daddy’s truck fixed as well as a day packed with shopping.  She said she never could have done that with any of us kids as babies.  I think about our easy flights to New York last summer, and easily getting around the city, and my child’s incredible adaptability anytime we bend our routine.  What makes it work, what makes him go with my flow, no pun intended, is nursing.  As long as I am willing and able to give him that mama’s milk at regular intervals he is a happy camper.  It becomes a mutually agreeable give and take.

So, while a continued commitment to nurse can be quite demanding, it can also really make life easier

I wish I could say we were going to Paris or Utah, like some of my friends with nursing toddlers, rather than a night at Town Meeting.  Maybe next year for us.  But I am certainly inspired thinking about the adventures,  both serious and wild,  possible with a secure nursing child.

4 comments:

Lucretia said...

Good for you Rachel and Cayce! More people need to see babies/toddlers at public meetings. I missed Town Meeting because of older ones and having to pick up one from lacrosse practice, make sure homework was done, bathe other one, and try to get them both to bed at a decent hour. I applaud you!

Cate said...

He made the evening tolerable for me. I had a difficult time sitting through all of that myself, and I really enjoyed his company! I am sure there might have been some people in the audience who neither understood, nor appreciated him being there, however for me, it was the highlight of the evening! I am really proud of you having the courage to do it.

rajumadhur said...

I think i should suggest this show to my girl.














Nursing Job Description

Rachel Dowling said...

Thank you my friends. I seem to be getting a lot of reads on this post. Perhaps I should use these provocative headline style titles more often? Cate I do think I'm growing more confident as a mom. Last year I would have left at the first hint of disapproval. In fact, I didn't even attempt Town Meeting last year. I also ran from theaters at the first hot glance. Progress, progress!