I’m Not Ranting, Already!

If you read Freelance Parent—or even the blog’s title for that matter—then you realize that it’s not just about how to start and run a freelance business. It’s also about how to combine that with parenting; how to juggle both aspects of your life. Freelancing is an amazing career option, and a big reason for that is because it does allow us to be home where we can parent.

Attending BlogWorld Expo last weekend was sort of an eye-opening experience. While the actual BlogWorld leadership was supportive of the fact that I needed to be in close proximity to my baby for nutritional purposes, the Las Vegas Convention Center was not.

Now, I understand the arguments behind not having a bunch of kids at a professional conference. In my mind, it boils down to responsible parents. Had I actually been allowed to take my baby into sessions, I would have only done so when she was sleeping or quiet, and I would have sat in the back so as to leave quickly should she start to be disruptive. That’s just common courtesy.

The weirdest reaction I received probably came from the “gentleman” who informed me that children should not be allowed in Las Vegas. I got the distinct impression that he thought I sucked as a human being for having Dot there. I stuck up for myself, though:

The best reaction was from one of the BlogHer bigwigs who assures me I should come to their conference where they once had a session delivered by a presenter while she was breastfeeding.

One of my biggest concerns was that she might disturb other people by crying. Fortunately, she did me proud, and if you added up all the time she spent crying all weekend, it might have totaled about four minutes. Trust me, that is way less time than many of the attendees spent whining about how slow the internet connection was. Considering it was free and there were thousands of people using it, I found their fussing to be more inappropriate than hers. ;-)

The longer I spend dwelling on the subject, the more bothered I am that people feel that a baby (that they are not even expected to care for) is an inconvenience. Sure, if she’d been crying a lot, I could see how that would be quite frustrating. But for people to be annoyed just because a baby was in the room…that’s really their problem more than mine and Dot’s, isn’t it?

In some ways, breastfeeding is a sacrifice on the mother’s part. In other ways, it is more than its own reward. Still, I think it’s appalling that I should also be expected to sacrifice my career because I need to physically be close to my baby. I find it insulting, as a matter of fact.

In a manner of speaking, I really did feel somewhat discriminated against, and I’m not quick to jump on that bandwagon. It felt to me as if I was expected to choose between being a breastfeeding mother and being a professional woman. How is it possible that in 2008, we still don’t see that it is possible to be both?

Comments

  1. Lorna Doone Brewer says

    @AuntMarvel – I just acted like I thought their rules meant I had to keep her in the New Media Lounge. No one questioned me about it after that.

  2. says

    With as much writing and ‘evolution’ there’s been on home officing and work-at-home parenting, some people still don’t get it. You’d think that with the ways this market has changed, and how it was proven by example long ago that a parent working from home can be pretty damn productive and successful, the Neanderthals among us would eventually come to terms with reality. Alas, maybe not. But just remember: insurance commercials and some new Discovery show notwithstanding, the caveman was evolved out of existence. So, too, will those who display such narrow-mindedness today…

    Jeff Zbars last blog post..Home Office Dad’s Preferred Tool Kit…

  3. says

    I think you have every right to be upset. No working mother would take her infant to a convention if she truly believed having her there would cause a distraction. You’re absolutely right – it’s their problem and not yours or Dot’s.

  4. says

    Dot is one of the best behaved babies I’ve ever had the pleasure of being around (and she’s just beautiful, by the way).

    I can see if this conference was of an adult nature or if there was dangerous stuff lying about, but there was none of that. I saw nothing that indicated a threat or danger – or even inappropriate material – to children.

    You rock and Dot rocks. I hope to see yo both again soon.

    Deb Ngs last blog post..Mashup Technology Blogger

  5. says

    Well I just had a blast hanging with you and Dot in the New Media Lounge, and I had no idea that anyone gave you crap for it. I’m so sorry you went through that.

    I think this “gentleman” might’ve been a little misunderstanding of this situation, which is odd given that it’s not like you were sitting at a craps table with Dot on your lap and 4 chain smoking boozers surrounding you. But then again, there are weirdo assumptive meanies in every bunch, aren’t there?

  6. says

    hey girls,
    the whole las vegas convention center thing nipped this in the bud, yes? I mean, was it really an argument?

    I’m not phrasing this well.

    What am I trying to say here?

    um, that this goes much higher than you (city level) and discriminating against BFing, right?

    I guess I’m wondering (hoping) that this wasn’t an issue outside of plain old city-level liability laws. I’m hoping it has nothing to do with breastfeeding.

    PS- My children travel EVERYWHERE with me. I consider it a part of their education. I’m all about a child seeing as much as possible, especially prior to age 5, when her synapses are firing and forming. There’s nothing wrong with a child being in Vegas. It’s just another city.

    Allenas last blog post..Better Paying Clients? Count Me In!

  7. Debra says

    Im in the minority here, and yes I was at Blogworld, I dont think that children should have been there. It’s a professional setting and it’s just an overall distraction to those who may not feel the same way as you do.

    And frankly, for the Blogworld bigwig to tell you that they had a presenter present while breastfeeding, well, was tacky. She should have had some self respect to realize that while people may be supportive of breast feeding in public, not everyone wants to see or be subjected to that.

    You’re pissed off, I get that, but others there would have been irritated too if they paid $400+ to attend a conference only to be interrupted by a baby crying or to be seated next to you feeling uncomfrtable while you breastfeed.

    Get a babysitter.

  8. says

    I thought it was really cool that you and Dot were there. I hope that when I am a father, I will be able to give my child the attention he/she deserves while still attending great events like BWE. I think anyone that was bothered by it is a little dumb. And you are 100% right about the complaints over the WiFi! :)

    I hope to see you both again next year.

  9. says

    After meeting Dot and meeting many of the other Blog World attendees, I agree that Dot was much better behaved than many of the adults.

    I appreciate your courage in doing something that shouldn’t have to be courageous…bringing your baby anywhere shouldn’t really be a big deal.

  10. says

    That is so wrong. You`d think in this day and age, people would be more accommodating! I agree that if Dot had been wailing it would have been a bad idea to take her into sessions, but if she`s being quiet and you are willing to leave should she act up . . . what the heck is the issue?

    You know, my dad used to have a lot of conferences when I was growing up and while it wasn`t a regular thing for us to join him, he did take me on those trips sometimes and I would actually sit in on the sessions, just coloring or whatever. I have no idea if this was ever an issue for him, but if a child is well-behaved, I don`t see the problem.

  11. says

    So sorry you had to deal with such ridiculous policies. The feminist in me is seething. I’m glad you were able to take advantage of some of the presentations and I don’t blame you at all for trying to have it all! We should all be able to have it all.

    Marys last blog post..An Amazing Surprise

  12. says

    I’ve never understood why so many parents think that those of us who chose not to have children must be subjected to their little ones.

    I’m sure your child is very well behaved, but many aren’t. There is a pattern of behavior they’ve seen, and they’ve made a decision based on that. It’s a business – some are receptive to children, some aren’t. I’m a very firm believer in “their business, their rules.”

    And if people want to have a convention while the presenters are breastfeeding, more power to them! I won’t be there – but does that mean that I’m being “excluded?” No, it’s a choice… much like having a child is.

    Mr. Stranger who decided offer his opinion on how to raise your child – he just sounds like a jerk.

    Of course, I realize that most of the people reading this comment probably think that I am as well. :)

    Thanks for the food for thought… this is probably the longest comment I’ve left on a blog in a looooong time.

    Lyman Reeds last blog post..Conquer The #1 Fear in the United States

  13. Lorna Doone Brewer says

    Thanks to everyone for your thoughts. Please keep them coming. It’s interesting to see how other people feel about this subject, as it’s not something I’ve ever dealt with before.

    @Jeff – I have a lot of hope that things will continue to change for the better.

    @Lis – Exactly. If Dot was a particularly fussy baby, I probably would have felt I needed to skip the conference altogether. As long as she wasn’t being disruptive, I felt that it wasn’t inappropriate for her to be there.

    @Jamie – I’ve not even thought of it that way! I’ve found a couple of places that have made it a little easier (my local mall has a nursing lounge, for example), but it’s usually more of a struggle than one would expect. Espceially when people get freaked out about nursing in public. Seriously? I mean, I try to be respectful by covering myself, but to still be uncomfortable about it…again, I’m starting to feel like that just has to be the other person’s problem. I’ve got enough going on. ;-)

    @Lisa – Some of the comments here show that it’s not just men who are uncomfortable around breastfeeding. I suppose it’s one of those things where actually being around it and getting used to it really changes your mind.

    @Deb – Thanks for the compliment. She is a pretty good baby. I got the idea that perhaps BlogWorld can request that children be allowed, but it probably has to happen far in advance.

    @Lara – Thanks for the image of Dot tossing back a whiskey and water while enveloped in a cloud of smoke and yelling “Mama needs a new pair of shoes!” I really enjoyed meeting you, too!

    @Sommer-Green – I really hope things are changing, too, because it does feel discriminatory at this point. Not that I think kids should go everywhere…but there needs to be a little more logic behind it all.

    @Allena – No, it wasn’t a matter of not being allowed there because of breast feeding. I was told that it’s because some conventions require the use of forklifts (no joke, this is the excuse I was given), so it might not be safe for people under 18. I talked about breastfeeding because it was one important reason for the baby to be with me.

    @Debra – I don’t think the breastfeeding presenter was just flashing the group attendees. Like me, I believe she kept herself covered while the baby was nursing. I’ve always been a pretty modest person, but after eight months of nursing, I’m much more desensitized to having my breasts exposed. Still, I’m an intelligent person, and I realize that is uncomfortable for some people. If they are freaked out because I’m breastfeeding under a blanket or other covering, then I think it’s their problem more than mine at that point.

    @David – The more fathers we get who feel like this, the faster things will change!

    @Tara – To be fair, I thought I had a greenlight to bring her long before I ever left home. If I’d known she wouldn’t be allowed, I probably wouldn’t have gone at all. As it turns out, I’m glad I didn’t know because I still had a wonderful time and hopefully showed a few people that it is possible for a baby to be in that type of setting.

    @Genesis – When your dad took you, the others probably just figured the poor guy had no other option and they should cut him some slack. If a guy showed up with a kiddo, people (myself included) would ooh and ahh over what a good father he is. It’s not the same for moms as it is for dads.

    @Mary – The fact that those spending the most time and energy to bring up good people are expected to do it at the expense of everything else is so silly!

    @Lyman – The way I see it, children are human being, too, and they should be respected for that much at least. I don’t think you’re a jerk at all; you just have a different opinion. Fortunately, you’ve stated it politely and without hyperbole. As I said before, I think it’s a matter of being a responsible parent. If your child is screaming or whatever, then it’s time to go. If my baby was prone to be particularly fussy, I wouldn’t have tried to attend in the first place.

  14. says

    I think it’s very fitting I first read this post while nursing. :) I’m sorry they gave you a hard time. That really really ticks me off! Forklifts… that’s actually funny in a sad sort of way.

    I think it’s really sad that kids are locked out of so much of real life. First people totally forget that banning the baby is often banning the mom. My first daughter was a bottle refuser so if she couldn’t go I couldn’t go. Being a good mom should not lock you out of life.

    Second I think it does a serious disservice to society. How do we expect kids to learn to become adults when they are banned from seeing so much of real life. We started taking our first daughter out to eat at restaurants at a few weeks old. We would leave or take her outside immediately if she was a disruption. Now at 3 she is a charming dinner companion. (And when she’s not you wouldn’t know it because we take her out.) I think children should be innocent until proven disruptive not banned without a chance. That’s nothing less then the same respect we grant adults.

    Good for you for standing up for your rights!

    Roses last blog post..Did My Prenatal Vitamins Cause My Daughter’s Allergies?

  15. says

    Some people just do not get breastfeeding.

    Like the Pediatric GI specialist I took my son to when he was 5 months old. “Just keep breastfeeding, that’s best for him, but add a tablespoon of cereal to every ounce of milk to help the reflux.” Um, yeah Doc, let me just pop open the secret hatch here. ;)

    Jamie Simmermans last blog post..Pick the Brains of Top Bloggers!

  16. says

    Two words: Rock. On.
    Why DO we have to choose to be one or the other? Isn’t it a little ridiculous? Why can’t we have both? It IS possible to be a good, present and responsible parent while holding down a career. If that means bringing your nursing baby to a conference, I’m ALL FOR IT. It’s like the man that was rolling his eyes on the plane while the 3 year old was making happy giggling sounds. Give.me.a.break.
    Again, I say: Rock.On.
    *stepping off my ranting soapbox*
    :)

    Brandie Kajinos last blog post..#BWE08: A Tour In Pictures

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