Dad: Nursing moms, thanks for doing a thankless job

The best compliment a husband can ever give his wife is that he appreciates the sacrifices she makes for their children. Seriously, there is nothing better than a little recognition for a generally thankless job.

So I loved a recent post by my friend and Utah Jazz writer Jody Genessy who publicly thanks his wife for the sacrifices she had to make while breastfeeding their kids. This is a dad who gets it, ladies. Any dads reading, take note: a simple thank you goes a long way.

Jody is letting me re-post his words here, but check out more of Jody’s dad’s-eye-view at his personal humor/diet/family blog at jodygenessy.com.

“To my kids’ mommy — and moms everywhere — thanks for feeling like a cow”

By Jody Genessy 

I crawled out of the warm wonderland known as my bed after being awakened by the loud sounds of my three oldest kids, ages 4-8, who were stomping and screaming throughout the house because, well, that’s how they roll in the six o’clock hour while the rest of the sane world snoozes.

My wife is still sleeping while I’m starting to write this unexpected blog entry. Even more than usual, she deserves to sleep in.

Last night, Heather, the beautiful mother of our home’s four littlest residents, shared a somewhat painful thought on Facebook:

“One phase of my life is possibly coming to an end. Though it is a welcomed and much anticipated end, I did shed some tears anyway.”

Unless God decides to bless us with more children, my wife will never breastfeed again. According to our family’s game plan, Baby Jack is our final bambino. He’s turning 1 soon, and she decided that his final personal feeding from her would happen two nights ago.HeatherJodyGenessy

Yesterday was the first time in Jackson Drew’s life — from the day he swam faster than all the others until his 11-month birthday — that he didn’t get nourishment that had a “Made by Mommy” label on it.

In all, Heather has spent four of the last nine years breastfeeding our babies.

Sometimes, she’s joked, “I feel like a cow.”

Many times she’s felt an amazing bond with our helpless infants, who’ve basked in warmth, comfort and pure love while pressed against a caring mother’s flesh. In these precious times, mom and child each share something while cuddling so close to one another’s hearts.

Other times she’s cried in agony.

She’s also cursed, grunted, bled, swallowed pride while allowing specialists to give her hands-on help, become chafed in strange spots, been bitten, fretted about latching issues, used a variety of ointments, worn the weirdest bras ever made, pumped precious milk using the weirdest machine ever made, feared that she was going to dry up, feared that her shirt wouldn’t dry up, accidentally flashed a person or two, awkwardly unfastened upper-body clothing while covering up with a cute blanket in the company of others, dragged her feet across the cold slate floor in the middle of the night to soothe a struggling and/or starving infant, gotten a crick in the neck after falling asleep in the rocking chair, and lamented aloud about perky parts becoming stretched and saggy.

All to give our children the healthiest homemade meal possible.

My wife’s body deserves a break.

This mother also deserves something else she’s probably never gotten for doing this particular chore: a thank you.

Between moments of confusion and grumpiness, I woke up with that thought on my mind. As I tried to imagine the emotional struggle and sadness she’s feeling, I realized that breastfeeding is among the most thankless and demanding jobs any mom ever undertakes. The recipients aren’t even old enough to say “Mommy” let alone use crayons to make a thank-you card.

On behalf of this house’s five non-Mommy inhabitants, I’d like to give a sincere “THANK YOU!!!” to the tired and incredible woman still sleeping.

She’ll never regret it. I’ll never forget it.

While I’m at it, I should thank the amazing mom 14 miles away in my old home for personally catering me for the first part of my life 42 years ago. Life, love and milk were just the first of countless things Momma Patty has given to me.

In case they haven’t heard it, thanks to moms in South Dakota and South Carolina, merci to the mères in France, gracias to Mexican madres, and mahalo, arigato, spasibo, danke and dòjeh to the rest of the mothers out there who probably never received proper gratitude for giving that early gift of liquid life.

I certainly don’t mean to be insensitive to non-breastfeeding mothers. Moms feel enough guilt. I don’t want to add on. Breastfeeding is not for everyone. It’s hard. It’s time-consuming. It’s a mixture of bizarre and beautiful. It’s impractical or even impossible for some women. To those moms, thank you for being awesome simply by being moms.

Over the years, I’ve laughed about how my pudgy pecs — or moobs, to use the scientific name — were false advertisement. I’d hold our children, they’d notice squishy parts on my chest and instinctively lurch for lunch. This oft-repeated experience usually ended with me joking and apologizing before having chest hairs ripped out by unforgiving 3-month-olds.

I know my wife fears that the amazing mother-child bond they’ve forged during feedings and the ensuing cuddle time will come to an end now that other people can give our baby the same kind of food she can. She’s always loved holding her babies tight and listening to the sweet sighs they make while drinking. And, hey, this might be the only part of their lives when they don’t complain about meals.

Maybe someday our children will learn to appreciate the sacrifices their mom made to provide for them while doing what she felt was natural and saving our family money. Maybe they’ll never even think about it.

She shouldn’t worry. Moms have a way of giving people new reasons to love them.

Thank you for that, too.

5 comments

  1. Danny Chipman

    After hearing on KSL Radio the other day that breastmilk is selling for $3 or more an ounce these days, I’m starting to think I should have kept it up a little longer! XD With my most recent baby I was pumping half a gallon in a 24-hour day (most of which we froze to allow me an early retirement). To think I could be making a whole second income! I can imagine responding to people who ask me what I do for a living: “I’m a cow.”

    Makes me wonder though, who on Earth could AFFORD to buy breastmilk at that price?

  2. Jennie

    I know this article is trying to make us nursing moms feel better about ourselves, but all I got out of it is that I am now a cow and my job is thankless. For one, I do not feel like a cow and I am not appreciative of someone saying that I am, and nursing is not thankless at all but one of the greatest joys and benefits of being a mother. I am just saying, next time you want to thank someone for doing something great, try better wording.

    • Jaime

      I have been breastfeeding for 11 months now and I don’t feel like a cow either, nor do I see it as a thankless job. I think the author was trying to express his own point of view: that of a man. Men won’t understand how a baby melts into your body during nursing or how those “milk drunk” faces make us feel like a million bucks so they can’t understand that we don’t need a verbal thank you or a written note to feel it’s all been worthwhile. It’s nice that he expresses his appreciation for his wife and tries to back up her humor with his own. I enjoyed this read.

      • Jody Genessy

        Thank you, Jaime! I saw the emotional struggle my wife had, knowing that she would never experience that bond again and decided to thank her for it with a letter.

        It was hard for her to wean the final child because of things like you expressed (and I thought I had) — the beautiful bonding and shared moments.

        Jody

    • Jody Genessy

      Jennie, really? That’s what you got out of this? Negativity? I’m stunned, honestly. I invite you to re-read it because you misread it completely — the words and the spirit of the letter. My wife is the one who said she feels like a cow at times, and that’s how it’s written. I’ve heard the same comment from many other women. I would never call a woman a cow.

      I’m thankful my wife — and A LOT of women who read it — appreciated the way this was presented and intended.

      I also touched on what you wrote — that, despite it being a thankless job (which it is) — it provides great benefits for moms and children.

      Jody Genessy

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