I officially received the title of “Dairy Queen” in 1999 when a friend of mine fed a stray kitten in the Hawaiian tropics with my breast milk.
Oh my goodness that sounds so funny. Let me explain. I had a friend whose child had failure to thrive. I asked her if she were open to supplementing her child with formula. She had some concerns with giving her child something produced in a “factory” and so I offered her my breast milk. She was delighted and began to give her daughter 20 ounces of Christina King milk a week. Her daughter began to gain weight. A couple of months later, I was approached by another friend who asked if I was still supplementing for the other family because her baby, was also having some struggles putting on weight. After talking with my first friend and discovering she no longer needed my milk, it was decided to give the 20 ounces to the second friend. Her daughter, whose name was Christina, gained a pound in the first ten days on my milk. The lactation consultant was stunned! I think we all were. To this day, when I see her daughter, I feel connected to her in an motherly way. Maybe this is the connection of the mystical body of Christ that Caryll Houselander speaks of.
When this friend went on vacation to Hawaii, my breast milk was in tow. While she and her husband were hiking in the mountains they came across a starving kitten and she poured out some of my breast milk in a cup. As the kitten lapped it up, she thought to herself “Wow, Christina’s milk is feeding the world!”
From that day forward she referred to me as the “Dairy Queen”. After doing the math, I figure that I have been nursing babies for about 15 years. To me it comes quite naturally and I don’t think anything of it. So when the Today Show was talking about a new toy for girls that promoted breast feeding, I was a little surprised by their reactions.
The baby doll cries, burps and makes sucking noises. The girl who gets the doll can put on a small apron that has flowers where the breasts would be. When the baby cries, she can put the baby’s mouth up to the flower and then the baby stops crying and makes sucking noises. Then the girl burps the baby. This seems innocent enough, I mean, a baby doll has to eat. What’s the big deal if a child pretends to feed it with a bottle or to nurse it? After all, this is how it is done in real life and children pretend all kinds of things. They pretend to cook, vacuum, mow lawn, etc. So does it matter if you choose a doll that uses a bottle or a doll that nurses? I remember having a doll that after you fed it food and then gave it a bottle it actually had what mimicked a BM in it’s diaper. That has to be more disturbing than a doll that nurses right?
Well, Kathy Lee and Hoda went on to describe the doll as “Creepy”. Kathy Lee then asked the question “What’s next a boy and girl doll that, you know..”. That is when it hit me. Since when is breastfeeding a physically intimate act meant for a husband and wife? For Kathy Lee to say that a nursing doll is a stepping stone for dolls that engage in sexual activity seems over the top. But maybe I just do not have perspective on this whole thing. After all, after 15 years of nursing babies, maybe I am not able to see the other side.
Our culture and it’s prolific use of breast augmentations and pornography has turned women’s breasts into objects that incite lust. This stands in extreme contrast to the images of Our Lady of LeLeche. I was first made aware of pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary with her breast exposed as she nursed the infant Jesus when I attended the Theology of The Body Institute. One specific image shows the breast milk spraying out onto a saint kneeling before her. When I researched the Vatican teachings on this I found that her breast milk is equated to that of the precious blood that was poured out to the world as a fluid that saves us! Wow!
How is it that we have gone from viewing the natural function of making milk for our babies as beautiful to something that is creepy? We have gone from displaying images of a nursing Madonna, which was painted to express the outpouring of the Virgin Mary’s love for the world, to seeing breasts as something meant for men. Well, no wonder Kathy Lee thought it was creepy. If her understanding of the body is true and if breasts are for men then to have a young girl even acknowledge she has breasts in this manner would then be scandalous or perverted even. I have to admit, my initial response was somewhat uneasy. I need to overcome some of my puritanical views of the body. I am working on properly ordering and “untwisting” some of my views.
I am not sure if I would ever buy one of the dolls that nurse. My daughters (and even my 3 year old son) have always just put their baby dolls under their shirts and pretended. I would sure love to hear some of your views on this subject. As we begin to unpack Theology of The Body and use it to understand our bodies, God and his purpose for each of us, I am grateful for the new lenses in which it has provided me to look through. I am beginning to see so much more than I first thought I would. I find it begins to touch ever aspect of my life, even the choice of toys I would buy for my children. Who would have thought?
Copyright 2010 Christina King