Breastfeeding Moms on Capitol Hill Key to Bipartisanship?

Christie Haskell
2

Though there isn't much I have to say that's pleasant about Sarah Palin, I do applaud her breastfeeding advocacy and her open candor while talking about nursing during conference calls and jokes about having to put down the BlackBerry and pick up the breast pump, and never hiding in a bathroom to do so.

Another political figure who has done great things for breastfeeding is Nancy Pelosi, who promised to (and did) increase the number of lactation rooms on Capitol Hill to help support and encourage younger women.

One particular room in the Capitol's basement has a frosted door, an electric keypad entry, and within the room is women. Nursing their babies. All politics are put aside in The Boob Cube, where Republican and Democratic moms talk about their kids -- and just their kids.

Our own awesome Joanne Bamberger, a.k.a. Pundit Mom, thinks this may be a great way to help encourage bipartisanship outside the lactation room. After all, if you spend private time with other moms, talking about common grounds, when put up against them on the floor, it becomes a lot harder to tear them down or insult them. I have a lot of very close friends who are politically very, very different from me, but we manage to respect the limited political conversation that comes up, and support each other in our common ground of breastfeeding (amongst other childcare beliefs).

I know too, from personal experience, that often people in public positions can seem surreal. Even something as simple as a blogger here on The Stir can seem so "different" or detached from other people. I know before I started working here, I thought of the other ladies completely differently than I do now (and owe a few of them some apologies!). Believe it or not, whether you're a rock star, a writer, or a politician, you're first and foremost still just a mom, and just a person, who has feelings.

So I think Joanne's idea is pretty sound. The problem is that there's just not enough young or nursing women there yet, though even tourists visiting the capital are welcomed into the rooms. However, it's also the nursing or pumping spot for many the assistant as well, and bipartisanship even on lower levels certainly has no downsides.

Hillary Wicai Viers, a former Democratic communications director on the Hill, says:

“There were at least two women in particular I became very friendly with, and they were Republicans. I can’t tell you what offices they worked for, but I can tell you whose moms they were — Mason’s mom and Kerry’s mom. We don’t talk policy, we don’t talk legislation, we talk about our kids."

Just being a mom often isn't quite enough to bond. It's okay not to get along with everyone, not to like people, and a lesson we learn even in childhood and continue to learn throughout our whole lives is that there will be people who you cannot stand, cannot agree with, and do not like whatsoever. But you still have to deal with those people and remember that they are people, even when you do disagree ... even passionately so.

Not all of you are going to love me, and I'm not going to love all of you. That's okay. However, it's worth remembering that we're not that different after all, and often a great solution is to find common ground and enjoy that, and try to go your separate ways when things you don't agree with come up. If you're just talking about love, kids, and sleep, it can be easy to get along and remember everyone is really just a mom with similar struggles. Try to read her words, not from a place of defense, but from a place of understanding as a person.

Do you think bonding over breastfeeding helps moms respect one another more in other  arenas?

 

Image via kynan tait/Flickr

Read More