Two more countries now have paid leave. Guess who’s not one of them?

The U.S. is the only industrialized country without a national paid leave program. A few months ago, I wrote this article about the lack of paid leave in the U.S. Since then, I was informed by the WORLD Policy Analysis Center that two more countries implemented paid leave programs, Swaziland and Lesotho. (We’re working on a new infographic.)

So now the U.S. is one of only three countries in the world with no national mandated paid leave program. The other two are Papua New Guinea and Suriname, and a few South Pacific islands. It’s time for us to catch up.

And there is a way, right now, that we can start. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Rosa De Lauro co-sponsored The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act, S. 1810 and H.R. 3712), a bill currently in Congress that outlines the way to bring paid leave to the U.S.

This is a self-funded program much like disability; it uses 2/10 of 1% of the employee’s salary, which ends up being about $1.50 a week from the employee and employer. It does not add to the federal debt, and the office for regulation will be within the Social Security department. For more info, check out the fact sheet here.

Inevitably, the next question is: Why should I have to pay in to this program? Employers will not be paying employees on this leave program. The money will be drawn from a fund for all Social Security-eligible Americans. It is important to understand that this is not just a maternity leave program. It’s also for those with sick family members, and you never know when that may happen.

The FAMILY Act was introduced so that you never have to choose between a paycheck and your family. You may not agree with this bill, but there’s a good chance you’ll reap its benefits.

So please help us spread the word. Help us get the FAMILY Act passed and put some substance behind our so-called “family values.”

Be kind. F*ck nice.

A friend recently asked me to write a letter to people who are always worried how they’re coming across to others. She doesn’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings by sharing hers, but she’s also sick of editing herself. In her words, “I mean, when will I stop fretting over this sh*t?” Sound familiar? Do you constantly censor yourself because you’re worried about other people’s reactions?

In our hunter-gatherer primitive nature, women especially have an inherent urge to nurture and protect. So it is completely natural to care about the feelings and opinions of others. What tends to happen, though, is that we too often put those feelings and opinions above our own. I’m not saying we shouldn’t care about how our words impact other people. Of course that matters. But the more we hold back our authenticity, the less connection we feel. How great would it be to feel truly comfortable in your own skin, no matter where you are?

I love this quote:

20140602-103533-38133069.jpg

I tell my kids to be honest and kind. Over and over I say it, honesty and kindness. Because I don’t want them to fall prey to this unfortunate social epidemic of white lies. I guess it hearkens back to “if you don’t have something nice to say, blah blah blah” which has merit at its root, but that has morphed into never talking about how we really feel.

It’s created a culture of nice insincerity and political correctness.

If we are really going to be kind, we have to be our best, truest selves. We care about what others think; now we just have to work on caring about ourselves more. And it needs to be a social contract where we ALL do it. We speak the truth with kindness, and we believe the best of others. We need to give other people the latitude that we’d like them to give us.

Will you join me in showing our true selves with honesty and kindness? Let’s spread the word. #bekindfucknice. Or #bekindfcknice. Whatever floats your boat. I won’t judge.

Love and purple to you all,

Eve

20140602-102953-37793155.jpg

An open letter to my son: I’m sorry for circumcising you

This letter originally appeared at The Purple Mama on October 13, 2013.

My sweet Buddy,

First of all, I love you and I’m so very proud of you. And I’m incredibly grateful for our family. You and  your sister make me burst with happy laughter every day. (Sometimes I pee a little. Look, I’ve had two kids, ok? You’ll understand eventually.)

20131018-081549.jpg
Chances are that when you read this, most of your friends and peers at Jewish school are circumcised, you’ve never had a problem with it, and you’re perfectly happy (G-d willing.) But now that you’re old enough to know about intact vs. circumcised, and if you feel wronged or violated in any way, there’s something I have to tell you. (And no more jokes for this part.)

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that I let my religious upbringing override my mommy instinct. I’m sorry that I didn’t give you a choice. I wanted to make sure you feel like you belong instead of feeling different the way I did growing up.

What I know now, though, is that different is not such a bad thing. And belonging isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

It took me over thirty years to finally and truly love myself, and I hope and pray it doesn’t take you (and your sister) half as long. Because if I had fully embraced my true belief system earlier, I would have fought tooth and nail to leave you intact. To let you decide if you want to follow in some of your male ancestors’ footsteps, whatever the reason. Every part of you was perfect when you were born, and every part of you still is. I just wish I hadn’t decided to remove part of you without your consent.

Your bris was a beautiful and moving ceremony, and I’m glad we had it. But if I could talk to the pre-bris me struggling with this decision, I’d remind myself how often I tell mothers to ignore others and listen to their inner voice.

I’d remind myself how much research I do on anything that impacts my family. (I wish I had known about the Brit Shalom ceremony.)

I’d remind myself that we (and many other Jewish families) don’t keep kosher, or strictly observe Sabbath. That we pick and choose from biblical directives based on myriad factors. So why choose to continue this one?

I have no good answer. Only the real one: this is how we’ve always done it. Which is a phrase that always made me shudder when I was the Aviation Safety Officer for my squadron. That phrase rarely leads to good things.

Please forgive me, wonderful son of mine. Or if there’s nothing to forgive, just come give me a hug. Or call me, because I always love hearing your voice.

I love you and your sister to the moon and back, to the infinity power. You two and your father are my everything, and always will be.

Your eternally devoted and fiercely loving Mamabear

I guess I’m a whip it out mom

originally published 9/13/13 on The Purple Mama

We’ve all heard it. Some of us have probably said it. “I support nursing in public, but some women just whip it out…”

And it baffles me every time. I mean, have you really ever seen someone do this? “I’m gonna feed the baby now – HEY EVERYONE HERE COMES THE BOOB! WOOHOO!” It makes us sound like Nursing Moms Gone Wild.

And let’s look at the but, shall we? (Heh.) If you say “I support nursing in public but…” then you do not support nursing in public.

Here’s the thing. All I’m trying to do is feed my kid. I’m not trying to flash anyone. Honest. But my baby (and many others) won’t nurse under a cover, nor should he have to. It’s summer. In Florida. Y’all, it is effing hot. A nursing tank top is part of my daily outfit, so there’s going to be some boob showing while I’m feeding my boy. And that’s ok. Breasts are primarily for nutrition. Breasts are not sexual organs or genitalia. Breasts are loved around the world because they are the first thing we ever knew and loved.

Please know that the mother you see is only trying to nurture her baby or toddler with the food that is meant for her little one. Why should she be banished to solitary confinement so she can nurse? Why should she have to remove herself from social situations because other people aren’t yet comfortable with the normalcy of nursing? She needs to be with the rest of us, because that’s the only way people will get used to seeing it. That’s the only way we can truly re-normalize breastfeeding.

Let’s review:

Breasts are not sex organs. We are not whipping them out for you.

We. Are. Mothering.

It needs to be said again. And again. And again.

So next time you see a nursing mother, or a bottle-feeding mother (because people aren’t always nice to them either, but that’s another article coming soon), please give her a smile, a friendly nod, or some sign that says “hey, thanks for doing what you do, and keep doing it.” And here’s the key: do that even if you don’t agree with what she’s doing. Because that, my friends, is how we will bring back the village.

Please tell me your story, and how much support you did or didn’t get. Let’s figure this out together and make things better for all moms.

Much love and purple to all of you,

Eve

Burned Alive While Breastfeeding in India

I am filled. Filled with pain, rage, and frustration. And feeling so utterly powerless to do anything.

Help me change that.

I cannot stop my tears, and I won’t. There is a mother to cry for, and an innocent baby girl, both of whom lost their lives because of their gender.

The husband and his family set them on fire, waited until they were burned, and then moved them while the mother was still alive and left her to suffer all night before death brought relief. This horrific, cold-blooded act was over a dowry.

They suffered and died because they were female.

Help me change that.

I ask you: is this the world we want? A world where women are considered a liability? Or only useful for our bodies? Whether it’s using the female body to sell a product, constantly undervaluing girls, or making us gestate a fetus against our will, there most definitely is a global war on women. And it’s especially heinous in India.

According this article:

A woman is killed over dowry ‘every hour’ in India, according to the data released by the country’s National Crime Records Bureau.

‘8,233 young women, many of them new brides, were killed in so-called ‘dowry deaths’ in 2012,’ the report said last year.

Domestic violence largely motivated by dowry demands is very common in the area, but killing of Ms Devi along with her baby girl has shocked the locals.

It is encouraging to hear that this tragedy has “shocked the locals,” but what is that going to change?

I have another idea.

The U.S. is so powerful, right? Can you imagine how much more powerful we’d be if we had a female majority in our government? Because most men read a story like this and feel momentary sadness. (I said most; I know there are men with a greater breadth of feeling, and I’m doing my damndest to find them as well.)

But most women, especially mothers, will read about this mother and child and feel oceans of grief. And anger. And a desperate urge to make this not ever happen again. And all of those things that compelled me to sit down and write to implore anyone feeling what I’m feeling:

Please help me.

How, you ask?

We will find the women. The mothers, the daughters, the sisters, the wives that want so desperately to make a difference in their families. To better themselves and their communities, our country, and this f*cked up world. We will ask them to vote, to tweet, to read, to run for local government, run for Congress. Like Rock The Vote, Emily’s List, (but open to all parties), and a little bit of Moms Who Drink and Swear thrown in to represent us more accurately.

We need to get involved.

We are going to make this world better.

We will make this world better.

Please say you’ll help me.

Tell your stories. Trust each other. Vote with passion. Vote with conviction. Vote with knowledge. Just find the women you trust and vote for them.

And if you have ideas to repair this world, please talk to me. Comment here or write me directly.

I very much look forward to talking with you all. Let’s make America the country that becomes known as the center of humanitarianism. Let’s become a people that the world looks at with trust, respect and gratitude.

Let’s repair the world.

A Victoria’s Secret employee wouldn’t let a mom breastfeed. But that’s not the problem.

There is a lot of uproar about this story in which a Victoria’s Secret employee refused a customer’s request to breastfeed her baby in the store. Yes, it’s ridiculous that this employee said to go nurse in an alley. Yes, it’s unfortunate for Victoria’s Secret that they apparently didn’t train all their employees on breastfeeding policies very well.

But they’re not the problem; that mom is.

Let me clarify; that she felt she had to ask permission to feed her child is an indictment of our society. The most basic right of a newborn is to be fed when she is hungry. Would she have asked permission to give that baby a bottle? Probably not. But because she is a breastfeeding mother, she had to make sure the people around her were ok with it. Why should that matter in the face of a child’s hunger? Why should we make this tiny, vulnerable infant wait and suffer because someone doesn’t want to think about a nipple in a baby’s mouth?

I’m going to bang my drum again here. An individual’s comfort level should not ever come before that baby’s right to eat. It is time for this country to get its priorities unf*cked when it comes to families and mothers. Once we start putting the next generation, and therefore our future, higher on our list, we can really start to evolve.

So for those moms already breastfeeding anywhere and everywhere because that’s what your baby needs, thank you for helping us on the path to renormalizing breastfeeding. And for those mamas still feeling a little unsure about the whole thing, just go for it. We’ve got your back. Don’t ask someone if it’s ok. You know it’s ok. And if you still feel unsure, message me. I’m glued to my phone and I love requests for support. Seriously. So please feed your child and don’t make her wait because of a stranger. Your baby and your full boobs will thank you for it.

Love and purple,

Eve

20140117-013314.jpg

Band of Mothers: Breastfeeding at Work

All too often these days, I notice that mothers are the first ones criticizing other mothers, and it breaks my heart.

I recently wrote about a Canadian politician trying to breastfeed her baby without losing her seat as Councillor. And my awesome friends and followers shared it out. One of the first negative comments was from another mother, and it made me sad. I’m going to break it down here.

“She shouldn’t get to bring her baby to work with her in her ‘seat’ all day. This is not what other working moms who breastfeed have to do.”

Unfortunately, you’re right. Most moms can’t bring their babies to work, and I think it’s utter bullsh!t. (See what I did there? With the udder thing?) It’s time to evolve a little faster, people. Not much has changed when it comes to working mothers and childcare. Our society views breasts as sexual, and women as either mothers or working women. In most office situations, we can do a damn fine job with a baby attached, and I’m determined to show that to the world.

“Newborns at work will never be the norm.”

Why not? Because that’s not the way we’ve always done it? You’re either a mom or you know one; you know how well we multitask, and how quiet an attached newborn can be. There are already women doing it; I read a lot about the flack they get, but not one word about the child actually causing any disruption.

Let’s face it, many people just don’t want to be in the same room as a baby sucking on a nipple, which is ridiculous. It’s like we’re a bunch of nine year old boys saying “ew gross!” while pointing and whispering. It’s a mother feeding her child. That’s it.

20140106-232106.jpg

Our society has this thing now where if one person is uncomfortable, something must be done to rectify it. Some will read this and say “I wouldn’t be able to work if there was a woman whipping out her boob at work.” Is she getting her work done? Yes? Then why can’t you do yours? If she has a baby latched on and is working fine one-handed, what is stopping you?

“I love breast feeding and support it 100% but this lady is causing trouble.”

Aaaaand there it is. The big but. I support breastfeeding, but [insert non-supportive and/or judgemental statement here.] The crazy thing is that the commenter is currently breastfeeding. And it’s not her first time. She knows how hard it is, but she still can’t just say “you go, girl!” Why can’t we just step aside and let mothers do what they can to provide for their child and also pursue their personal goals? Why do we keep making mothers choose?

I’d like to see a society that values and supports the mother-child pair and recognizes the amazing abilities of women.

The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life, and continued breastfeeding for at least two years. Yet the U.S. is one of only four countries in the developed world with no mandated paid maternity leave. Sure, we have pumping rooms, and pumping laws are getting more common, and pump this and pump that.

We need to shift our priorities so that the focus at work is breastfeeding, with pumping as an emergency backup.

Breastfeeding our babies at work is better, faster, healthier, and easier for everyone involved. Pumping at work just sucks.

I have heard mother after mother talk about how they couldn’t keep up with their baby’s demand while pumping at work. I pumped when I was still active duty, and I couldn’t either. As any pumping mother will tell you, it takes a lot of work to build up a supply when you have a pump instead of a baby at your breast. A pump doesn’t signal the same as a hungry baby. A pump can’t respond to a baby’s saliva and make antibodies specifically designed for the infant’s current state. A pump doesn’t bite either, but you know, trade-offs.

20140106-232122.jpg

Shifting our focus means a lot of change. It means changing how and where we do childcare. It means caring more about the next generation of humanity than an individual adult’s comfort level. It means upsetting the status quo in a big way. It means “causing trouble.”

But it’s so worth it.

Mamas out there, I beg you. Please let’s just support each other’s choices, even if we don’t agree. If every mom’s declaration is met with support and acceptance, we can accomplish amazing things together. Heck, you don’t have to be a mother. Let’s just support one another. Then we’ll know better and do better. For ourselves, each other, and our kids. Let’s heal the world.

Much love to you all,

Eve

We can breastfeed and work. Because we’re women.

I just found out about a politician in Canada named Amy England. She recently had a baby and is not eligible for maternity leave because she doesn’t pay into the fund. (In Canada, everyone pays a small amount into Employment Insurance, which covers parental leave. Novel concept, right?) As of now, there is no policy for councillors who give birth during their term.

Councillor England is determined to breastfeed (thank you!!) and is bringing her baby to work with her so she doesn’t miss a meeting. It kills me that people are apparently claiming she can’t have a baby and also serve the people. Really? Who better to take care of constituents than a young mother raising the next generation? A crotchety old man who thinks we should all be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen?

I don’t think so either.

In Amy’s words:

I am a regional and city municipal councillor in the city of Oshawa in Ontario Canada. I am the first woman who has been elected and had a baby while being elected in my city and region. I have been breast feeding my 3 week old baby and must return to work on January 6th. If I miss more than 3 months of meetings in a row I will lose my seat. I will be bringing my baby with me for the purpose of breast feeding and have been viciously attacked for this decision when I announced my intention. Now I expect when I bring my baby, it will cause major debate and attention…I do not want to be pushed into bathrooms or backrooms and have to choose between my child’s human right for breast milk and my right to vote on behalf of my constituents.

There is absolutely no reason that Councillor England can’t be allowed to breastfeed her baby. Mothers have worked while breastfeeding throughout history, and it’s high time we are acknowledged and supported in modern day society. Look at Licia Ronzulli, an Italian MEP (Member of the European Parliament) who breastfed her daughter at work when she was six weeks old and still brings her daughter to work at age three.

20131231-232456.jpg
Seriously, how awesome is this?

When Councillor England’s story first came out, there were some awful comments. This article by Chris Bird highlights some of the doozies. I came to this part and thought YES, he says it perfectly:

So, go ahead and throw insults at Amy England and other women for trying to change the ‘traditional’ way of raising children and/or being a politician. Or better yet, you could praise them for having the balls to say that something needs to change. It’s not a boys club anymore, and it never will be again. Once you accept that, and try to work with people instead of against them, you’ll find that your life will become a lot easier.”

Please get the word out and show support for Councillor England and all breastfeeding mothers. You can find her at http://amyengland.ca.

Thank you!

I guess I’m a whip it out mom

We’ve all heard it. Some of us have probably said it. “I’m all for nursing in public, but some women just whip it out…”

And it baffles me every time. I mean, have you really ever seen someone do this? “I’m gonna feed the baby now – HEY EVERYONE HERE COMES THE BOOB! WOOHOO!” It makes us sound like Nursing Moms Gone Wild.

Here’s the thing. All I’m trying to do is feed my kid. I’m not trying to flash anyone. Honest. But my baby (and many others) won’t nurse under a cover, nor should he have to. It’s summer. In Florida. Y’all, it is effing hot. A nursing tank top is part of my daily outfit, so there’s going to be some boob showing while I’m feeding my boy. And that’s ok. Breasts are primarily for nutrition. Breasts are not sexual organs or genitalia. Breasts are loved around the world because they are the first thing we ever knew and loved.

Please know that the mother you see is only trying to nurture her baby with the food that is meant for her little one. Why should she be banished to solitary confinement so she can nurse? Why should she have to remove herself from social situations because other people aren’t yet comfortable with the normalcy of nursing? She needs to be with the rest of us, because that’s the only way people will get used to seeing it. That’s the only way we can truly re-normalize breastfeeding.

So next time you see a nursing mother, or any mother, please give her a smile, a friendly nod, or some sign that says “hey, thanks for doing what you do, and keep doing it.” And here’s the key: do that even if you don’t agree with what she’s doing. Because that, my friends, is how we will bring back the village.

Please tell me your story, and how much support you did or didn’t get. Let’s figure this out together and make things better for all moms.

Much love and purple to all of you.