The Water Drop Café in Christchurch has had a bad week after they told a breastfeeding mother to feed her baby in the toilets. Here Mary Sea writes them a letter reflecting on the ups and downs of a public scandal.
Dear The Water Drop Café,
Imagine if we had to pay forever for our stuff-ups.
Imagine if there was some big Arbiter of Truth who leapt out from behind a shrub every five minutes, to remind us of our past lapses of judgement. Like, you’re literally about to exchange vows at the altar and the Truth-Boogeyman (Troogeyman?) bursts through the doors and bellows: “Nuh-uh! Remember how you wrote in black vivid on the bike sheds by the science block that you would love Jason Priestley 4 EVA? Yeah, well, here are your Dolly Magazine fold-outs. Get pinning, girlfriend!”
Then, later, at the hairdresser you’re just about to ask for a trim, and Troogey hollers: “SPIRAL PERM! Once a spiral perm always a spiral perm yo!”
My point is, I’ve done some dumb shit. We all have. Fortunately though, you live, you learn. Our friend Alanis taught us this, remember? When we voted Jagged Little Pill the BEST ALBUM EVER?
I once saw an interview with a woman who had one of those exceptional memories, where she could remember every single day of her life in graphic detail. I can’t remember the name of the disorder, but she said that the hardest thing about it was that she would remember every last detail of her friends’ mistakes years after they had happened, and she had had to train herself to move on, in the interests of keeping friendships.
So, Water Drop Cafe, let’s talk. We both know you made a mistake. One of your staff asked a breastfeeding mum to feed her baby in the toilets. You totally know by now that this was neither legal nor cool, and I bet my dumplings that you won’t be doing this again. You didn’t know the rules, you didn’t get the vibe, but you sure as sugar do now.
Lots and lots of people have got into quite a strop about this, with a bunch of curt words and single star reviews appearing on your Facebook page. You have written a lovely, sincere apology. Everyone who knows you says you’re wonderful people, and great givers to the community.
You must be, surely. For a start, you’re kind to the most important mother of all, Mother Earth, by treading so gently on the earth with your vegetarian ways. Thank you for that.
So, I feel that we need to clear the air, Water Drop. I am a mother who breastfeeds her little one. I have never been to your cafe, but I sure as heck am planning to visit it now, and I know that you’ll be pure sunshine to me, my baby, and all of our friends who are also gonna come. You have shown that you are brave and gracious enough to admit your mistake and learn from it. This is what I want to model to my kids.
Water Drop, I didn’t write mean stuff, or plonk a solitary star on your page, but can I share my thoughts on what I reckon this is about?
Frankly, us mums have a hard time sometimes, being in public with our wee ones. Not all the time, mind; the majority of people are lovely. But there are always those who scowl at our toddlers in the supermarket, for the crime of being toddlers.
You know the stuff that toddlers do: gumming the trolley handle, body-slamming the towers of toilet tissue, doing downward-dog in the dairy aisle. We hear the exasperated sighs of these strangers and they hurt our hearts. We have trouble paying our bills because our wages haven’t gone up even though the cost of living sure as heck has, and we hear things like: ‘well, if you can’t afford children, why did you have them?’
We try and cross the road at a pedestrian crossings and sometimes we wait so long that the babies on the bus are going waaah-waaah-waaah before we can walk the zebra. We start to cross, nearly get run over, and then get blamed for putting our kids at risk, when we supposedly have the right of way.
Why can’t we one-star-review THOSE firetruckers?
Go look at Stuff comments (actually, please don’t): mothers are to blame for everything. All of this on top of feeling bone-tired from the night-wakings, stressed from the thought of our children stumbling on the pervy version of Peppa Pig (who ARE these people?) guilty for working outside the home, guilty for not working outside the home or guilty for not being treat-wise when it came to the family bag of the new Jaffa non-pineapply pineapple lumps.
In short, our society could be a whole lot kinder to mothers and children. Kind, in the way that you are kind; to our community, to our environment, to our planet.
All this is to say, Water Drop, that this is a case of mistaken identity.
We thought you were the grumpy guy on the bus who grumbled when our child squealed in delight when we went over a bump in the still-not-fixed road. We thought you were our boss, who wouldn’t let us go watch our kid in the cross country, not because work was busy, but because ‘give parents an inch…’. We thought you were the officials who won’t budge from paying peanuts to our teacher aides, even though they transform our world.
Water Drop, we thought you were someone else.
Me and my friends will see you soon. We will eat your delicious food, we will enjoy your delightful company, and we will not be treat-wise.
Can’t wait to meet you.
Mary Sea is a Christchurch mother of two, a breastfeeding peer counsellor and a speech-language therapist who had great taste in music pre-children, but whose music taste these days appears to be going in One Direction.
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