Two Kinds of Kindness

The Kindness of Strangers

When my husband and I were planning our trip to Spain, part of what we discussed was the Spanish attitude towards breastfeeding, since our son was still in the nursing stage of babyhood. My husband lived in Spain for two years about 20 years ago. At that time, breastfeeding was associated with gypsy culture and was looked down on. I was a little nervous about nursing our baby in Spain, particularly because we would be out and in public as we toured the various museums and other attractions.

Aside from three older women glaring at me in Toledo, I didn’t have any negative experiences with nursing our baby in Spain. I did have two experiences where kindness was shown to me, and I am very grateful for that kindness.

Traveling with small children requires keeping track of many small details. The first Sunday that we were in Spain, we decided to go to church. Once we got there, I realized that I had forgotten to put my nursing cover in my bag. While I know there are many women who are comfortable nursing in public without a cover, I am not one of them. We were sitting down in church and my baby was hungry, and growing louder and louder in his desire to nurse. Another young mother loaned me her nursing cover so that I could feed my baby, diffusing what could have been a very stressful and difficult situation. My baby happily nursed under the borrowed cover until he was fully satisfied and happily drowsy. This small kindness from a kind stranger meant a lot to me.

Several days later we were shopping at Cortez Ingles when my little guy again needed to nurse. I had my cover with me this time, but was having a difficult time finding a comfortable place to nurse him. In American department stores the women’s restroom often has a section with comfortable seating that makes an excellent, quiet place to nurse a baby. So, I headed for the nearest restroom. By this time my baby was very fussy. There was no seating, and I didn’t want to sit on the floor, so I ended up sitting on the counter to nurse. A woman came into the bathroom and started speaking to me in Spanish. When I told her I didn’t understand her, that I didn’t speak Spanish, she switched to English. She told me she would find out if there was a more comfortable place for me to nurse my baby. She left the restroom and came back several minutes later. She had inquired with the staff at Cortez Ingles, and discovered that the third floor had a comfortable nursing area. While my little guy was almost finished at this time, I was touched by the kindness of this stranger, who went out of her way to make my situation more comfortable.

I had felt some anxiety about nursing our baby in Spain, but this actually brought me two wonderful reminders about the kindness of strangers when in a strange land. Spain is a country filled with kind people. And if you ever need to nurse at Cortez Ingles in Madrid, you know where to find the nursing room.

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