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“I’m saddened that someone would feel they had to “warn” me to reconsider feeding my son in front of other children”

by Prince Of Petworth March 23, 2016 at 1:00 pm 227 Comments

4450 Wisconsin Ave, NW

Ed. Note: I’ve no doubt this incident will evoke a passionate response. I just ask that folks please be respectful in doing so. You can say what you wish without insulting the OP or the library staff. Thank you.

“Dear PoPville,

Yesterday at about 330 pm I was sitting in the children’s section of the DC Public Library Branch in Tenleytown next to a shelf of board books for small children. I was nursing my son, as I have several times before there, and reading a book as he was starting to fall asleep.

A woman, who later identified herself as a library assistant, came over to me and said she wanted to “warn” me that “adolescent boys were on their way to the library since school was getting out”, and they were “not used to seeing women breast feed and might make fun of you.” She added that I might want to consider this while I was breastfeeding my son in the library.

I was completely stunned. I remained seated, and continued to nurse my son. I stated that I had the right to feed him in the library, and said I was shocked by these unsolicited comments, and would be posting about this online. She said “Why would you want to do a thing like that?” and began to raise her voice. She stated she would have to file “an incident report”. I asked for her name, and she thrust her identity card out and said her name, and then said “You can even talk to my supervisor, but she’s not here today. Why don’t you just take this to the Director of the Library?” I stated that I had a right to breastfeed in the library and that this was feeling very confrontational. She began to raise her voice, and repeatedly said “this is not a confrontation” and “I never said you can’t breastfeed here.”

I’m saddened that someone would feel they had to “warn” me to reconsider feeding my son in front of other children. I continued to feed my son and remained with him asleep in my arms at the library for another 30 minutes. Many kids, families, and yes – adolescents! came by, and not one person said a word.

There are several things that are confusing to me about her “concern”:

1. Why was the library assistant bothering to come over to me, unsolicited, and “warn” me? What was her motive? DC law clearly states women have the right to breastfeed in public places: http://breastfeedinglaw.com/state-laws/district-of-columbia/

2. A library is a sanctuary of information in our society, and it is a beacon against ignorance. It’s all the more shocking to me that my son and I would be treated this way in a library of all places.

3. I also feel her comments really underestimate adolescent kids, who, whenever I have breastfed around them, have never made inappropriate comments.

I’d like for the DC Public Library system, and especially the Tenleytown branch, to review the District’s law on breastfeeding, and ensure all of the District’s mothers have a right to breastfeed in the library without interference from library staff.”

  • This makes me sad.

    Our alienation from each other is now complete.

    • ParkViewneighbor

      On the other side, maybe people can be made uncomfortable by breastfeeding or teenage kids can be crude about it. OP might have been a bit overreacting and kind of willing to pick a fight about her right to breastfeed (since she seemed to have the DC statute all ready !).

      • Philippe Lecheval

        I see this sort of “how dare you question my parenting skills” lashing out from parents quite often these days. From what I can gather: The library employee thought she was providing the OP some friendly advice based on past experiences with adolescent boys, and when the OP became all defensive, the library employee became embarrassed and returned fire.
        So many parents seem to think the world revolves around their precious snowflakes, oblivious to everyone around them.

        • TX2DC

          +1 Well said – that’s exactly the way I read the situation. There’s a little blame to go around for everyone. The OP went from zero to “I’ll be posting about this online” immediately – seems a bit extreme to me.

        • Linc Park SE


        • ET

          Agreed. The OP needs to get some perspective. The library assistant has some experience (more than the OP for sue) about who comes into the library and was warning the mother in case she was unaware school was getting out and boys (never the maturest segment of our society) were going to be swarming. She didn’t seem based on what written to making any comment on parenting skills or appropriateness. OP needs to get the freak over her damn self.

        • Missy

          Agreed. Going from some advice straight to, “I’m posting about this online!” seems like a dramatic response. Reminds me of when I worked retail and the second I couldn’t accommodate something, it was, “I’m calling Corporate!”

          Sometimes complaints are warranted but this doesn’t seem to be the case. Someone suggesting, “hey, I know the crowd coming in and it may cause you some annoyance or stress” is very different than, “you cannot feed you baby here and, BTW OMG SO GROSS.”

          • dcd

            “Going from some advice straight to, “I’m posting about this online!” seems like a dramatic response.”
            Absolutely. Also, “A library is a sanctuary of information in our society, and it is a beacon against ignorance. It’s all the more shocking to me that my son and I would be treated this way in a library of all places.” is pretty over the top as well.

        • anon

          dunno what special powers you have, to know with certainty that this mother thought that “the world revolves around her precious snowflake.” the library assistant was meddling; even if she had good intentions, the assistant definitely came across poorly by “warning” the mother, instead of saying “FYI, in case it makes you uncomfortable.” the emphasis was on the mother potentially being in the wrong for nursing her child and blaming the victim if others felt uncomfortable. the assistant made a mountain out of a molehill and the OP was righteously defensive.

        • RCS

          +1 – as I was reading, I was thinking the same thing minus the snowflake comment. It sounds like the library assistant was trying to forewarn her about the immaturity of young boys (shocking) but more giving her a heads up rather than how the OP seems to have perceived it as a personal attack. As the OP stated in her story, she didn’t tell her to stop doing it, she was sending out a warning of these kids are likely going to say or do something to make you uncomfrotable. Is “I’m going to post about this online” the new “I’m going to sue you”? Oy vey. Deep breath OP. Deep breath….

        • RCS

          +1 – as I was reading, I was thinking the same thing minus the snowflake comment. It sounds like the library assistant was trying to forewarn her about the immaturity of young boys (shocking) but more giving her a heads up rather than how the OP seems to have perceived it as a personal attack. As the OP stated in her story, she didn’t tell her to stop doing it, she was sending out a warning of these kids are likely going to say or do something to make you uncomfortable. Is “I’m going to post about this online” the new “I’m going to sue you”? Oy vey. Deep breath OP. Deep breath….

        • MtP

          +1. Even in the way the OP presented it (which is often skewed towards OPs), it seems like the employee was just trying to be friendly and let her know of a change in the library environment that was coming and with which she might be uncomfortable.

        • reality

          +1 I’ve been at the Tenleytown library when there have been kids there making trouble just for the sake of making trouble.

        • O rly

          +1 OP needs some real world perspective

      • This makes me sad.

        My point is this: what is the minimum amount of well-intentioned, consequenceless words that one person can casually speak to another person before the law is invoked? This? This is how we interact with each other? So atomized from each other that two people can’t have an extraordinarily brief, consequence free interaction that leaves one person resorting to legal arguments and internet shaming? How did people ever handle brief, slightly annoying public interactions before the internet?

        • annonny

          It seems that these days merely offering someone friendly advice and/or paying them a compliment is grounds for a scathing reaction from the other party. I agree, it is sad when people can’t be bothered to give the benefit of the doubt and feel they must react angrily and in a confrontational manner to anyone who approaches them.
          OP of this exchange definately seems hypersensitive – asserting her rights, questioning the motivations of someone pointing out a possible uncomfortable situation, and making a bigger deal out of what she could have simply said “thanks” to.
          Frankly OP should be a bit more introspective about why someone offering non-threatening advice might feel the need to escalate the conversation when being snapped at in such a hostile retort (e.g., “I am shocked,” “I have a right.” “I will post this on line.”). If somebody threatened to tattle on me for simply doing my job (i.e., maintaining a calm atmosphere in a library) I think I might want to protect myself with an “incident report,” too.

  • Leeran

    That was totally a weird and unnecessary comment from the staff member, but it sounds like one of those things you’d be better off just shaking off and moving on from — people are dumb and it’s probably not worth the time you’re investing trying to “correct” this.

    • HH

      “people are dumb and it’s probably not worth the time you’re investing trying to “correct” this”

      Yup. This seems the kind of thing better handled by saying something like “I can probably handle a couple of snickering teenagers, but thank you for your concern.”

      If the assistant chose to take it beyond that, a conversation with the library director would probably be more effective than a several paragraph online screed

      • anongardener


      • jdre

        I had similar thoughts, but didn’t phrase them this well. I agree completely.
        I think she “meant well,” only to give you a heads up that an onslaught of teenage boys might make you uncomfortable, which may have been unnecessary or odd for her to say, but the discussion quickly escalated.

      • d

        + a billion. The OP absolutely has a right to breastfeed in public, no question about that. But based on her reaction to the librarian’s comment and her thinking it worthy of a blog screed, she might wanna work on her coping and interpersonal skills. We all have things to work on to make us better people – sounds snarky across he interwebs, but it’s not.

      • stcohi

        Yup. OP comes across as somewhat defensive — perhaps for a good reason from some prior incident, but the employee seems to me to be conveying a heads’ up. No good deed goes unpunished I guess.

    • ANC

      +1. I’m a nursing mom, and I know women (including me) get comments and weird looks about it from time to time. The most disarming response is a shrug and a “call the police if you need to”.

      • 18th Street

        “call the police if you need to”

        Well that escalated quickly.

  • janet

    my theory is maybe she has witnessed breast feeding mothers being teased before or something….?

    that said, i would have just said “thank you” and just carried on

    I do feel by saying “I am going to post this online”, that that made her defensive and why things got heated

    • K

      Yeah this makes sense. I’ve nursed by youngest in a few different libraries and have never had staff say a thing other then to comment on how cute my son was. You getting defensive probably put her on the defensive.

  • AJSE

    I’m interested to hear what other people think about this, but my initial feeling is that you’re overreacting. I wasn’t there and I didn’t hear the Library Assistant’s tone, but it doesn’t sound like she was asking you to stop breastfeeding, more just that she wanted to let you know that adolescent boys were coming and, frankly, she’s right that they are a-holes. It sounds like she was trying to be conversational and friendly and it only turned ugly when you took it really personally. Again! I wasn’t there, but this kind of comes off as, “Something happened in my day out of the ordinary and I want to write to a blog about it!”

    • PetworthMom

      This is my take too. It seemed like a friendly remark that sometimes adolescent boys aren’t always the nicest and might make a comment.

      • C_petworth

        I have not read all the comments here so I apologize if this is repetitive. I got the feeling from the first 30 or so that people thought the librarian was in the right here and the OP over reacted and I have to disagree. Either we are associate that allowed women to breast feed in public or we don’t and right now (thank god) it looks like we are for it. Instead of the librarian coming to the OP to warn her about the teenagers , she instead should have, if the teenagers did act out, warned the teenagers that breast feeding in public is allowed and that the library does not tolerate making women feel uncomfortable about it . It might be a stretch but it kind of feels like when teachers ask young teens to cover up in schools to prevent the boys from getting giggly/ or saying rude comments instead of shuting that behavior down and encouraging the young men to respect women’s bodies. Maybe the OP overreacted but if she has the right to breast feed her baby then she has that right and the assistant in this situation did not really have any reason to approach her.

    • Timmy

      That’s my reaction too. I’ve had adolescent boys/adult men stare at my wife while breastfeeding, and it has made her very uncomfortable. Obviously I wasn’t there, but I’m inclined to give to think the Library Assistant had the emailer’s best interest in mind and the emailer got sanctimonious as hell.

    • cm

      Totally agree. It sounds much more like the assistant was just trying to give a heads up that some children who can fairly easily fall under the category of d-bags when it comes to their actions were headed over.

    • Jo

      That was my read. She was trying to tactfully let OP know that teenage boys–who are often a-holes–were about to fold the library. She probably has a very good sense of how very big a-holes a group of unattended teenage boys hanging around the library can be.
      It’s great if you want to stand on your right to breastfeed wherever, but even everyone who thinks that is important is going to *want* to breastfeed everyone (e.g., in front of a bunch of teenage boys). OPs mileage may vary, but I bet a lot of people would appreciate the heads up that the setting is about to change so she can then make her own choice (I would).
      Also, and I don’t mean this as a personal attach, but can I put “saddened” in the same kind of quotes as “warn.”

      • Jo

        Soooooo many typos from typing too fast and the comments still went from 3 to 13 in that amount of time. Fold the library? Person attach? Anyway “not everyone” in the second paragraph.
        Also I feel really bad for the library assistant regarding how OP treated her. She was absolutely correct that “I never said you can’t breastfeed here.” Probably was trying to be nice. And OP escalated it to something that could threaten her job.

    • tigershark

      I think OP took this high and to the right. The employee (my perception) came off as looking out for you, and it got escalated X 100. People complain about the lack of regard for our common man/woman that is exhibited in DC…yet this library employee was trying to show you that and also to let you know that if you got grief from anyone, she was looking out for you. Going on the defensive and calling her out means that the lack of regard will continue, and that this employee probably now will not speak up to help people in the future, thus perpetuating the cycle. I cannot wait for the PoPvill post in six months about someone else complaining about how aloof and unfriendly the staff are at this library branch for not doing xyz thing. But, we will all know the true genesis. Stay safe out there folks and try and take care of each other.

      • Jo

        “People complain about the lack of regard for our common man/woman that is exhibited in DC.” Good point.

      • eggs

        Totally agree.

    • anon

      This is how I perceived the situation from the text above.

    • Jobee

      Same here. It sounds like the library assistant was just looking out for you based on her prior experience–she wasn’t forcing you to stop breast feeding in any way or asking you to move or treating you unfairly in any way, it appears. I can understand why she reacted like she did when your immediate reaction was to “post this online.”

    • textdoc

      +1 to AJSE and Timmy.

    • mdtodc


  • quincycyclist

    The library assistant shouldn’t have said anything. You also probably shouldn’t have rubbed her nose in the fact that you were going to shame her online.

  • K

    Did she ask you to cover up or stop feeding? Or was it one lady giving another lady a heads up that some rowdy kids might being coming by soon?

    I’ve had some pretty horrible things said to me while feeding my babies but this seems more of a heads up and less of a judgement. But I could be missing something since I am in no way impartial to this kind of thing. I had a lactation consultant tell me I wouldn’t bond with my first born since she had to be feed via a feeding tube. I had an old friend tell me I was poisoning my 2nd born because he was formula fed. And I was told that I should use the bathroom to nurse my youngest.

    • PetworthMom

      I’m really sorry that folks said those horrible things to you.

      (I’ve also been told I’m poisoning my kids for using formula–I can’t BF for medical reasons. I was also told that formula is basically like giving my kid Diet Pepsi.)

      • ANC

        Ha! The classic “if only you loved your baby enough…” sanctimommy trope.

        • PetworthMom

          Thankfully, I’m secure enough in my decision not to BF that I just troll them.

          “Well, considering my breast milk would actually kill the baby due the medicines I need to function due to a lifelong autoimmune disorder, I choose the lesser of two poisons. But thanks for your informed opinion on my parenting decision.”

          • jenster8dc

            This is perfect. You rule.

          • K

            Best response ever.

          • eggs

            Good for you!

  • the_famous_boat

    Wow, I think the OP is crazy overreacting. The librarian assistant didn’t force you to do anything, she was trying to be decent. Immature adolescent boys are the norm, not the exception, and it seems like her initial intentions were good. Rolling my eyes at the “beacon against ignorance” statement — yes; but it’s also a public space.

  • [rrrrr]

    Holy overreaction Batman. Only having OP’s words to go on, sounds like she massively overreacted, put words in the mouth of a library employee, threatened said employee, and now came here for validation. Maybe there’d been an incident before that OP wasn’t aware of, or maybe the employee was being a bit intrusive, in any case it seems like the employee acted purely from a place of good intentions.

    I don’t know what the Tennleytown Branch is like, but library employees in big cities generally endure a lot. They shouldn’t have this misplaced rage added to the list.

    I suppose I should thank Dan and OP for the laugh I got from imagining her shouting “you’ll hear about this on PoPville!” at a confused librarian.

    • B

      +1 I couldn’t have described my reaction to OP any better. Absolutely on target.

    • L

      “…library employees in big cities generally endure a lot. They shouldn’t have this misplaced rage added to the list.”

      +1 from this librarian

      • Emmaleigh504

        +1 from another librarian

      • liberryian


        ugh, yes. please. we just want you to be informed and read good stuff; please don’t yell at us.

    • Jo

      Yeah the stuff librarians have to deal with from teenage boys and others. Cra-cra-crazy.

    • Anon

      +1 total overreaction by the op

    • M

      +1000000 from another librarian. The library assistant was trying to give you a heads up. That’s all’

    • [rrrrr]

      Just wanted to add in that I am also 100% sympathetic to new parents, including OP. I’ve never been one, seems like a tough gig.

      I do hope, if she hasn’t already filed a complaint, that she thinks twice about it and lets this go as water under the bridge.

      • jenster8dc

        I’d even go a little further and say I hope she stops by the library again to apologize. We all go a little haywire sometimes, for sure, but I bet that librarian feels like crap.

        • K

          This definitely. We’ve probably all flew off the handle before. Everyone understands that new parents are strung out and the librarian would probably take an apology without a second thought.

  • NWDC

    Ugh. I am a mom with two toddlers, and I breastfed. But I am kinda tired about hearing about these Mommy Wars/breastfeeding outrage over and over again…

    I mean, she didn’t say you couldn’t, and she certainly wasn’t in the right to question you at all, but just shrug it off and get over it.

    That being said, were you completely hanging out or were you covered? Some people do get uncomfortable if you aren’t covered enough. Again, not that they have any say in the matter or have any right to tell you what to do, but it’s how some people feel – it makes them uncomfortable.

    So maybe being a little more discreet would help? Not because you have to, but because sometimes being courteous to others’ feelings, while still meeting your own needs, is the kind of a win-win. I am sure I will be totally shut down for this comment… oh well.

    • Jo

      Did she “question [OP] at all”? Not even OPs account says that.

      • NWDC

        Sorry – I meant that she questioned whether OP would or wouldn’t be uncomfortable in front of adolescents. From the post – “She added that I might want to consider this while I was breastfeeding my son in the library.” Maybe that’s not technically a question, but I hope I made my point.

    • “Not because you have to, but because sometimes being courteous to others’ feelings, while still meeting your own needs, is the kind of a win-win.” I think this is solid advice for LIFE IN GENERAL.

      • dunning-kruger

        Its unamerican! Obstinate individualism would be our mantra if we could agree on a mantra.

    • CapitalDame

      +100 “Not because you have to, but because sometimes being courteous to others’ feelings, while still meeting your own needs, is the kind of a win-win.” THIS. Not just in regards to breastfeeding, but generally speaking. GREAT comment!!

  • wow

    God forbid someone trying to look out for your best interests. It amazes me how many people come to this blog with ridiculous nonsensical stories about how they have been “wronged”. But hey, guess thats just how DC is sometimes.

  • Dadric

    Someone tries to harmlessly warn you about an unfortunate possibility that they’ve likely witnessed before, and you treat this shabbily? Get a grip.

  • LCinDC

    I’ll preface my opinion by saying I do not have kids and am well aware that things could change once I’m in the OP’s shoes…maybe it’s just me, but I consider myself fairly liberal about most things yet it sorta does bother me when I see mothers breastfeeding out in the open. Perhaps “bother” is not the best word, and I’ve not experienced the inconvenience it may really be to find a private area, but I also just don’t really want to see it and feel like I wouldn’t want others to have to see it either…not that it’s gross in any way, I just think there are many activities we can handle in private. Not bashing the OP for doing this, just stating my reaction when I see it (certainly not something I would voice if I witnessed this)…just being real.

    • JS

      The good news is no once forces you to watch. Id’ think it best if you left decisions about appropriate feeding times & places to the parents – you know, the people that actually have experience with their child’s needs – and find something more productive to worry about.

      • Anonomouse

        Dear lord, the OP was talking about onlookers’ brief feelings of being uncomfortable, which happens. My parents are from a conservative culture and are very obviously discomfited when they see mothers breastfeeding in public; that’s their prerogative. People have a right to their feelings just like mothers have a right to breastfeed in the manner most fitting for their kids.

        • JS

          I am simply astounded that a mother feeding her child can make someone uncomfortable, but hey, whatever.

          • Anonymouse

            It doesn’t make me uncomfortable, but it can’t be that hard to imagine someone coming from a conservative society where women are more covered feeling that way, whether or not they want to proscribe this activity. Western culture isn’t universal.

          • FridayGirl

            I would rarely admit this, but it’s something I’d also prefer not to see. (Then again I am in like the 5% of women who are pretty much terrified of all physical things that having a baby entails, and I don’t want kids for this reason, but I never expect people to accommodate my discomfort.)

          • Anonamom

            Western culture isn’t universal, however, we are, in fact, a western culture.
            It’s fine to be bothered by/ feel uncomfortable with women breastfeeding in public, just as it’s fine to be bothered/ feel uncomfortable with many other things we see in public. However, it’s not right to infringe upon someone’s right to do those things. Also, please consider how differently you would feel/react if you took out “breastfeed” and insereted “same sex couple PDA.” Would we then excuse the feelings of more conservative types and the “offenders” to conform to the opinions of the “offended”?

          • CapitalDame

            @Anonamom umm I personally find any and all PDA more of an assault on my eyes than breastfeeding. That said, I don’t really care much either way. Although, I was taken aback (in the sense that I wasn’t expecting it, because I simply hadn’t experienced this before) when my sister in law began breastfeeding my niece at my father in laws birthday dinner at a nice steakhouse. Obviously the baby had to eat, I just didn’t expect to know what my SIL’s nipples looked like.

      • Bitter Elitist

        My friends use drapes specifically made for feeding. There’s nothing wrong with discretion if you want to be left alone.

        • 18th Street

          Some people seem to think that breast feeding must be done aggressively in public so that anyone who does not vocally applaud the mother must be publicly (and virtually) shamed. How dare you feel the way you do? How. Dare. You?

          • anonamom

            How does one breastfeed “aggressively”? Did they sit in your lap while they were doing it? I think they’re just trying to feed their babies. And the law protects their right to do so however they want.

          • wdc

            Snorting a little at the mental image of aggressive breastfeeding.

        • Shaw

          @bitter elitist and all of the other people who feel uncomfortable with mothers breast feeding in public. Have you ever tried to breast feed??? Consider the experience for a moment before you judge or tell people they should cover up.
          Breast feeding is really hard. Getting your baby to latch properly is not easy at all. There are a million reasons why- issues with nipples, breasts, baby’s mouth, the fact that you are trying to feed a creature who literally cannot hold their heads/ bodies/ anything up, that this creature is probably also extremely hungry and mad when this is happening, etc. Not to mention the dirty little secret that breast feeding hurts a LOT for the vast majority of women, even when done properly. It is not easy.
          Now try to do with a cover on- ie you can’t see anything, and you have to do it all by touch. It’s really hard.
          Then, add the emotional stress. the fact that the whole world tells you “your only responsibility is to feed the child; breast is best” after you give birth: not that you are responsible for healing your body after a major trauma, taking care of your mental health in the face of significant hormonal and emotional surges, and learning to be a good parent to your child . Consider for a moment that there is an insane amount of vicious judgement directed against mothers who formula feed- even partial formula feeding. Consider the fact that breast feeding a baby can take 40 minutes to hours to do, multiple times per day- are women to be imprisoned in their homes all day bc it’s too much work for you to divert your eyes when you feel even a tinge of discomfort?

          Bottom line: Cut the OP and all new moms some slack. New moms need the freedom to be able to go out and breastfeed wherever they need to without being judged. Walk a mile in our shoes before you suggest that all women should use a cover- or throw barbs at a new mom for over reacting to someone getting in her face while she is trying to breast feed. For those of you who think it was an innocent comment- Guess what- OP is an adult, she knows she’s feeding in a library in the afternoon on a school day. She doesn’t need Captain Obvious Library Assistant pointing out that there are adolescent boys coming in- the woman has a brain. Let her do what she is doing without bothering her or interfering.

    • ejk

      Babies need to eat every 2 hours or so. While I think most moms, especially with new babies, hang out at home until they get the hang of it, that’s not always practical. And the “private area” that’s available is often a bathroom, which is not exactly a pleasant or sanitary place to spend a half hour.

    • LCinDC

      FridayGirl gets it…

    • apes

      It makes me uncomfortable when people eat in front of me with their mouth open, but I don’t expect them to eat in the bathroom.

    • Brentwood

      Something to consider, LCinDC (I don’t have kids either, but I have friends who do): When a mom first notices signs that her baby is getting hungry (putting fist in mouth, lip smacking etc), she can pop a boob into the kid’s mouth, and the kid will typically start eating (assuming the kid is old enough to have the latch process down, so usually, a couple of weeks). If she has to put away what she’s doing, pick up her stuff and move to private location (like a bathroom or special nursing room) the kid is going to escalate from nonverbal signals to verbal signals, and the more worked up (crying) that a baby gets, the harder the latch, and the longer it will take to settle the kid down. I’ve had a lot of people say to me “Oh, I don’t like seeing breastfeeding in public” and I’m like “I’d vastly prefer nearly-silent breast feeding to ear piercing shrieks.”

  • JS

    Can we take bets on how long it will take the letter-writer to show in the comments? I’d give it 20 more minutes, tops.

    • logan

      Seeing as she (rightfully) isn’t getting the universal support and validation she is seeking, I’d bet we won’t be hearing from her.

      • Shaw


  • Neighbor

    I think it’s an overreaction too. In most cases a warning is just that – not a judgment or an order to stop something. The way you described it, it sounds like it was a friendly heads up. Are people not allowed to warn you about things that could cause you harm? What if you were crossing the street and someone shouted a warning at you to look at the out-of-control bus barreling toward you? Would you take offense at that? Yes, of course you’re free not to heed any warnings, but don’t get angry that people take the time to warn other people.

  • angela

    “thanks for the heads up, cant wait for them to show up!”

    -my reply

    • FridayGirl

      +1000 to this!

  • Shawz

    What is happening to our society when, when someone comes up to you to offer some advice about your behavior, you are “completely stunned”? Really?! As in, the fact that some middle schoolers are “not used to seeing women breast feed and might make fun of you” knocked you over into a state of disbelief, meriting a public shaming of and professional complaint about this individual? And even just hearing your side of the story, it’s apparent you completely misunderstood and overreacted to the comment. And not that I disagree with you about the issue, but if hearing that some people might not approve of public breastfeeding stuns you into silence, you are going to shocked, shocked I tell you!, should you ever venture outside of the metropolitan bubble into the world at large.

  • As a father of a breast-fed 3 y/o and one on the way, I too feel strongly about breast feeding, and support your right to do it anywhere you want to. I can also imagine you feel pretty vulnerable when you do it. That said, the librarian’s remark seems like a legit “heads up” to me.

    • wdc

      This is a very kind and complete post, and I agree wholeheartedly.

    • On Capital Heels


      Spot on and best comment in this thread!

  • TJ

    OP is totally overreacting.

  • ke

    Yeah…this seems like an overreaction by the OP. I think the worker just wanted give a head’s up that the peaceful breastfeeding reverie could be interrupted or commented on by a bunch of adolescent knuckleheads. Maybe the worker was clunky doing it, but I really hope that the OP doesn’t file a complaint against her.

  • derp derp

    +1 Sounds like OP was looking for a fight. It seems like the librarian (a) had no problem with the breastfeeding herself, and (b) was trying to be helpful.
    Given all the stories we hear about DC teenagers on here, it’s not unreasonable to think they would see somebody breastfeeding and do/say something silly/offensive.

    • superstar

      +1 for real. Tons of stories about teenagers robbing people. Shit gets stolen from people in libraries all the time. Sounds like the librarian’s warning was solid.

  • ruby7

    i think you may have overreacted a bit, but on the other hand, let’s not pretend that the staff member was totally being a “good samaritan” by warning her about the possibility of adolescent boys coming into the library.
    it was judgy and a roundabout way of saying you shouldn’t breastfeed in a public place. I don’t think the staff member should have said anything at all; it was none of his/her business.

    • petworther

      “it was judgy”
      Not sure how it’s judgy to think it’s possible that a breastfeeding woman with a sleepy baby would not want to endure lude comments from teenagers.

    • Jo

      What about this story tells you that, though? I suppose someone giving this kind of “heads up” *could* be motivated by some internal animus about breastfeeding, but I see no reason to assume this is so. This is a woman who works at this library and presumably sees how these kids behave regularly. May have seen people getting harassed in the past.
      Why wouldn’t you give her the benefit of the doubt that she’s saying what she’s saying for the reason she gives. That “let’s not pretend” phrase is a very weird choice, too, implying people who read the incident more innocently than you are pretending/lying.

    • Anonymous

      “…et’s not pretend that the staff member was totally being a “good samaritan” by warning her about the possibility of adolescent boys coming into the library.
      it was judgy and a roundabout way of saying you shouldn’t breastfeed in a public place.”
      You are just as unhinged as the OP. You concocted that entire farcical, stretch-of-the-imagination theory in your head. Stop projecting your martyr-neurosis complex onto others.

    • jenster8dc

      I didn’t read it as an indictment of her breastfeeding in public at all. I read it as a well-meaning heads-up that there would be some high school d-bags arriving soon who might disturb the OP’s quiet moment with her child.
      As someone said down thread, we don’t know what’s going on with OP, so benefit of the doubt there, but this does seem like an overreaction on her part to something that was probably meant as kind.

  • FridayGirl

    Without reading the other comments, I honestly would not have taken the library assistant’s comment as any indication that you could not breastfeed there. Rather, the comment sounded like they may have had past issues with Wilson High School students. I know we can’t predict what our response will be in the moment, but if I were the mother, my response probably would have been something like, “Thank you for letting me know but I think I’ll be okay.”

  • Anonamom

    I think to be perfectly honest, it sounds like everyone over-reacted here. The staff member didn’t have to say anything to OP, and it was completely unsolicited, but jumping in with posting about it on the internet was not necessary. It seems like a situation that got blown way out of proportion and in the end, both sides were wrong.
    If I may offer one piece of advice as a complete BTDT mom (and please, feel free to jump down my throat ;) ) – there will be many, many times throughout your child’s life where well-meaning or not-so-well-meaning people will give you unsolicited advice. You will be a much happier parent when you learn to smile and nod and let it roll of your back.

    • I agree with this. While the OP completely overreacted, almost like she was looking for a reason to be offended, the staff member should have left it alone, no matter how well-intentioned her advice was. Not only because it was unsolicited, but also because I have heard a number of stories (of acquaintances… the ones in the media tend to actually be women being told they can’t breastfeed somewhere) of very similar situations in which the mothers overreacted because they felt judged. While the staff member had no way of knowing the OP would react that way, reactions like that are more common than people think when it comes to parenting issues (breast/bottle feeding in particular), and it honestly just isn’t worth the hassle.

  • Jay Jay

    Breastfeeding or not, if you are reading quietly with a sleeping child she shouldn’t have approached you. I’d be more irritated that the discussion led to my child waking up from a nap.

    • anon1

      Oh for heaven’s sakes, it’s a public space. There shouldn’t be any expectation of complete silence in any public space, even a library. Jeez.

    • annonny

      If that’s why you’d be offended, then perhaps you’d be OUTRAGED when rowdy teenagers woke up your baby?

  • #FirstWorldProblems

    • c

      does the “first world” still exist? where is it exactly?

      • I’ve you’ve ever actually visited a third world country the contrasts are pretty stark, you wouldn’t have to ask.

  • SilverSpringGal

    I don’t understand why the mom took such offense. The librarian was just trying to warn her about rude behavior from teenage boys and wasn’t suggesting that she needed to leave – just forewarning. Also, as someone accustomed to breastfeeding in other countries – most moms do try to find a semi-private area to breastfeed or have an appropriate covering.

  • Anon Spock

    Might be the first thread where everyone agrees.
    Add me to the bunch.
    Seemed like a heads up, op took issue.
    Maybe op has had issues breastfeeding before, so the approach rubbed get the wrong way.

    • dcd

      “Might be the first thread where everyone agrees”
      I was thinking the same thing. And if you can get THIS little slice of humanity to agree that you overreacted, you’ve got to wonder how far from the pack have you strayed.

  • k

    Just as a heads up the the commenters here. We don’t know who the OP is. She could be a first time mother who is still squarely in that first phase of parenting where nothing makes sense and your hormones are going crazy. If you’re a parent you know that phase. If you are not….image you most sleep deprived, strung out, least self-assured moment and multiply it by 1,000. Her response here may be an over reaction but on the scale of first time parent over reaction this is tiny.

    Also remember that breast feeding is hard. Breast feeding in public is harder.

    • Anon

      I agree wholeheartedly with the other comments that the OP seems to have overreacted to a well-meaning piece of information from the librarian. (As someone who works in the government, in my experience this sort of feedback from the public is what prompts demands from advocacy groups and laws from the Council that everyone — absolutely everyone! — needs retraining!) However, I really appreciate your comment giving perspective about that reaction. Thank you for sharing.

    • Jo

      A fair point. I’m glad you posted that. I just hope–as I noted below–that her overreaction doesn’t get a seemingly well-meaning employee in trouble.

    • Hill Denizen

      I get that she might be stressed out and sleep deprived but that doesn’t excuse taking an unmerited action against someone that might cost them their job.

      • anon1

        Exactly. And posting the whole thing online for validation is especially obnoxious.

        • marybindc


      • Bitter Elitist

        It also assumes that the librarian is not a parent who has been there, done that.

    • Missy

      Mothers are not the only sleep deprived, stressed out people in general populations. She was obnoxious to post it online/threaten an employee. It would be obnoxious for anyone to do it. It reeks of entitlement and displaced frustration.

    • anonymous

      Completely agree with this comment. But I also think she came here for validation, and it is not the duty of the commentariat to validate someone just because she’s having a tough time! The fact that we don’t know who she is means we can offer our opinions without it tainting our view of a specific person.
      FWIW, I agree with the general consensus that she overreacted. I do not envy her, as anger is unpleasant and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

  • CO

    Though I agree the comment seems strange and perhaps unnecessary – I really think this is an all-too-common case of a well-intended comment gone wrong. As it reads, she in fact, WASN’T telling you that you couldn’t breastfeed in the library. She wasn’t even telling you that you shouldn’t. She was warning you about teenagers – who we all know can have a cruel streak – and who she has probably witnessed do WORSE things in the library than tease a breastfeeding woman. I agree that it was probably better left unsaid, and that you have every right to speak to her supervisor about perhaps receiving more sensitivity training. But I also think that this demonstrates a classic case of “I’m doing something I’m entitled to do so I’m going to jump straight to being offended and defensive at the slightest whiff of ignorance.” Might be a good opportunity to reflect on your own reactions as well.

    • Jo

      I don’t exactly agree that she has “every right to speak to her supervisor about perhaps receiving more sensitivity training.”
      I mean, in the abstract, I suppose anyone–no matter how delusional, e.g., I need to report that your library assistant is secretly an space alien–has a right to ask to speak to a supervisor.
      But is it the right thing to do? Particularly, without considering the context and motivations more carefully? This is this woman’s livelihood, and even a false complaint can threaten that. I think it is important for people to take a deep breathe and think carefully about the situation before they report or threaten to report someone to a supervisor. Some things, once elevated, can’t be taken back. Which might be partly why the library assistant freaked out at that point.

      • FridayGirl

        Quick! Someone find out if the complaint was elevated and then send this post to the director of Tenleytown library to show everyone agreed with library assistant! She’s innocent!

  • formerdcpl


    I used to work at this branch. I’m no longer with DCPL, but let me tell you that it is a swarm after school and that a lot of the kids who come are 10-12 year old boys with a lot of energy to burn. They’re often rude and not respectful, because that’s what large groups of 10-12 year old boys are like.

    Also, why on earth do you immediately jump to “I’m going to post this online!” Were you looking for something to be upset about? Because that’s what it sounds like.

    There are many mothers who breastfeed in the library, and as I know the staff there, I know that it is practice to allow them to do so. Why is it a bad thing to be warned that a space that is sparsely occupied at the moment could soon be full of 60 or so people? Other mothers might be upset by this– someone else very well could have written a post that she wasn’t warned and that the Animalistic Youth (as Popville readers are so keen to call them) stared at her breasts and made her uncomfortable.

    No one wanted to or tried to stop you. Get off your ridiculous horse.

    • anon1


    • M

      Another former staff member at this particular branch. I just wanted to add we’re talking between 80-100 kids in the after school crowd. Not, like, 11.

  • andy2

    OP overreacted by claiming to blog about it. She politely warned you and you were under no direction to stop nursing and go elsewhere. Best response to unsolicited advice is to smile and say thanks.

    The assistant did no better by apparently raising her voice and continuing the conversation.

  • Quotia Zelda

    I breastfed all 3 of mine, and had no problem doing it in public. In OP’s situation, I probably would have found the librarian’s comment a little odd and judgy, but IME the best response is a chipper “Thanks!” and then continue right on nursing.

  • anon36

    complete overreaction. this actually frightens me from ever wanting to help anyone again.

    • FridayGirl

      Yeah, there have been a lot of damed-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situations here lately.

  • jim_ed

    From here on out I’m ending every unpleasant interaction with service workers with “I’ll be posting about this online!”. Total Power Move.

    • Shaw

      Yeah, that comment told me *everything* I needed to know about the truth of the situation and the truth about the OP!

    • Emmaleigh504


  • AnotherAnon

    Presumably whenever a woman decides to breast feed in public, she does a quick observation of the environment and makes a call as to whether *she and her baby* are going to be comfortable there. I don’t think it’s so awful that the library assistant wanted the OP to know the space she chose on one set of circumstances was about to change. Her word choice was kind of clunky, but it really sounds like she meant well. The library assistant probably experiences a sharp change in the place’s vibe everyday when school gets out, and wanted to share that info!

    OP, try to think of the advice as in the same family as (though different, I acknowledge!): “Hey, we’re going to start shampooing the carpet all around this area. You might want to move if the baby’s sensitive to suds.” “A loud industrial fan is about to switch on over here. You might want to move if you or the baby are sensitive to noise.” “We’re about to start a very popular storytime. It’s going to be body-to-body with toddlers. If you want someplace quieter with more elbow room, you might want to move.”

    • HaileUnlikely

      Agreed completely.

  • DC Resident

    I know the OP was just DYING for someone to confront her so she could feign offense. Instead of trying to be offended at everything maybe we should try seeing the best in people… the librarian probably wanted to help you avoid an uncomfortable situation (right or wrong). If you put yourself out there for all the world to see (quite literally) don’t be offended or even surprised when someone says something. In today’s people’s mundane lives so many look for every opportunity to be offended so they can have some excitement in their lives. Next time just say “thank you, I’m fine” and carry on.

    • anon

      Nursing a baby in public is not “putting yourself out there for all the world to see.” It’s just feeding a hungry baby.

      • Bitter Elitist

        It’s feeding a hungry baby when you use a feeding drape.

        • anonamom

          It’s feeding a hungry baby either way, Bitter Elitist. If I forgot my cover, or if my baby pulls it off, or is too hot and uncomfortable under one, or if I just don’t want to use one, how does that make it anything else?

        • Shaw

          @bitter elitist- why are you so obsessed with the “drape”. Have you ever tried to use one? Do you have any knowledge of breast feeding to prescribe this “solution” to women who need to feed their children? Why don’t you try feeding an angry, kicking, squealing baby on your body – without being able to see anything- before you propose a mommy hijab as the solution to all problems.

          • wdc

            “Mommy hijab.” YES.
            Such strong similarities between people who insist breastfeeding requires a drape and people who insist that the condition of being a woman requires one.

  • Kate

    It sounds like the OP has been wandering around DC, breastfeeding in public, just waiting for someone to shame her for it, and this was the only reaction she’s gotten of any kind, so she’s taken the opportunity to get outraged.

    • General Grant Circle


  • Shaw

    Molehill, I hereby declare you to be…. A MOUNTAIN!!

  • Hill Denizen

    Is this for real? Even your wordy, over-the-top description fails to even hint at anything offensive. The assistant was trying to help you. All you needed to do was say “thank you for your concern, but if they want to make comments, that’s their problem.” She didn’t tell you you needed to stop or that what you were doing was offensive. At no point were your rights infringed upon, yet your first response is to demand her name and threaten to bad mouth her and her employer online?!?!?! Do you go through life waiting to get offended? She simply knew there were some raucous teen boys coming and wanted to make sure you weren’t caught off guard by their reaction. Get over yourself, lady. I hope the library system commends this assistant and gives her a raise for having to deal with self-righteous egomaniacs like yourself.

  • AnonymousCS

    Have you ever been ANYWHERE in that area when school lets out? It’s like Lord of the Flies. OP totally overreacted. The library assistant maybe shouldn’t have “raised her voice” but her original warning was indeed a valid warning, as I’m sure she’s seen some egregious behavior from those kids. Working in customer service in this neighborhood, I would venture to guess that it’s possible OP didn’t take a neutral tone with the library assistant either, and some days, you’ve just had enough of the entitled attitudes.

  • TenleyLibraryFriend

    Have you been to the Tenley library after school lets out? It’s crazy in there. Also, the librarians there are fantastic, nice people. So, my guess is that she was actually trying to be helpful to you, made a bad call on how her assistance would be received, and things escalated from there. I don’t think situation is one to get worked up about. Simply a matter of folks not understanding each other.

    • Ally

      Agreed, but I would hope that women — especially librarians who encounter a lot of women and kids — would be more sensitive to the comments and stares that breastfeeding women get. I’m unfortunately on all formula for my little one at this point (god I tried…it’s hard to stick with breastfeeding!), but I am very sensitive to what other Moms go through with this. But, I think you’re right and I’m not being critical of your comment at all.

      • anon

        I read it as the librarian actually BEING sensitive to the comments and stares that breastfeeding women get, and that’s why she said something. Like, hey, a bunch of teenage boys are going to come in here in a few minutes, and they’re probably going to stand around and try to stare at your boobs, just a heads up.

        Would it have been better if the librarian kept quiet? Sure. But it seems like being admonished for breastfeeding in public s a new badge of honor in the online-mommy community always trying to one up each other. (Like, mom 1: I had an all natural birth! mom 2: Oh yeah, well I was told not to breastfeed!!)

  • Ally

    I can’t wait until boobies just go back to being what boobies were originally intended to be. Feeding your child in a public place should NEVER be an issue. It is not sexual. It is food. If it’s sexual to some people, perhaps they should reevaluate their singular stance on the boobies. Just sayin.

    • formerdcpl

      I completely agree with what you’re saying, but I just don’t think that argument is going to work on middle school boys.

  • NW Mom

    I live in the neighborhood and have been to this library numerous times with my little ones. I’ve breastfed there and the employees never said anything to me. I can attest to how rude and rowdy the teens and tweens are in the afternoon when school lets out (the library is not nearly as bad as McDonalds, tho). I think the library employee was legitimately giving the OP a heads-up on what she could potentially encounter. Both parties over reacted to each other in the end.

  • anon

    As someone who was told not to breastfeed my kid in public at an Orioles game (I was even covered), I get how awful that situation can be. However, it sounds like you were interpreting the librarian’s comments as a passive aggressive way to stop you from breastfeeding. And it stands to reason, you could just be misinterpreting her intent.

    • Val Jeanette

      Right and if there are different possible interpretations of a person’s motivation why jump to assume the most negative one is true?

    • CapitalDame

      I’m so sorry that happened to you :(

  • W

    You totally overacted, not everybody is trying to stop you from feeding your child in public.

    Focus your next online post on something legitimate and worthwhile.

  • Bertie

    Donald Trump says it’s disgusting.

  • anon

    A lot of people seem to be asking why the OP decided to blog about he incident – one reason is that because I think there actually are a LOT of cases where people do try to prevent mothers from breastfeeding in public, some because they aren’t aware of the law, others because they just do not like it. Perhaps the OP was trying to raise awareness of the issue.
    -a mother who nursed 2 babies

    • phl2dc

      The thing is… there was no real issue in this case.

    • Bitter Elitist

      The “awareness” has been well-raised. She was not a victim.

  • HaileUnlikely

    If I were the library assistant and did not need the income from my job, I would have asked the OP if I could speak with her supervisor.

  • Jason

    OP – you were being given helpful advice…. a warning that teen boys were coming and they might do something that would make you uncomfortable…..do with that information what you will but the scene you made was uncalled for…. OP owes the library employee an apology for her behavior.
    To cap it off OP quickly had the on-the-fly response of “I’m gonna post about this in the Internet.’ Seriously! that’s how you cope? Good god grow up!

  • phl2dc

    I’m saddened that you reacted in such a ridiculous way. That woman was trying to look out for you, nothing more.

  • Luckycat

    Hmmm. I am literally weeks away from having my first baby, so take these comments for what they are worth. It sounds to me like the librarian was trying to give you a heads up that teenage children are coming to the library and given they are teenage children, they may stare or make inappropriate jokes/comments about breastfeeding. I think the warning was given so that the OP could avoid dealing with that type of attention. I don’t get the sense that the librarian was making an issue about her breastfeeding at all! I see the whole thing as a helpful heads up.

    I get that breastfeeding moms are frequently given a hard time, but the OP seemed immediately defensive about her “right” to breastfeed that it seems she was looking for a fight.

  • say what

    you are making way too much of this sanctimommy. The librarian didnt say you couldnt, she didnt even say your shouldn’t. But if you think adolescent boys aren’t interested you are dead wrong. thats your choice and right to continue. The library was just giving you a heads up not some ominous warning. So no, a 13 year old boy isn’t going to say something but he is still a 13 year old boy!

  • Cam

    Sigh. It’s tough out there. Maybe with all the communicating we do online now, interpersonal skills are suffering? I feel a level of sympathy for the breastfeeding mother, and I understand her sensitivity. I imagine she may have felt unwelcome breastfeeding inpublic before. I also understand why the mom might have perceived the library assistant’s comments as being critical of breastfeeding in public. Standing up for yourself and your child is important. The escalation of the conversation on both sides is what I don’t understand. Let’s all be supportive of new moms — whether they breastfeed or not, of breastfeeding in public or not, and of trying to deal with situations as peacefully as possible. Could’ve been handled much better by both parties. It seems like there’s a good chance the library assistant was actually trying to be helpful, although could have expressed her concern differently or not at all.

    • Bitter Elitist

      You know who it’s tough for? The working class employee who is being threatened with public humiliation by someone who has time to go sit in a library in the middle of the day.

      Let’s all be supportive of people who have to deal with the most demanding and demeaning segments of the population (teens and sanctimommies) for little pay and recognition.

      • FridayGirl

        This. This this this.

      • Anonamom

        I really have to agree with you here!!

      • shaw

        Oh my god yes. I can’t express how much I hope this librarian reads all of these comments and realizes how much support she’s got out here in the real world. Some obnoxious wealthy woman in a snobby wealthy neighborhood who has turned herself into a lady of leisure with her nipples out in a library every day does not represent society as a whole. 95% of us admire your hard work and the fact that you have dedicated your career to education, literacy, and public service. PLEASE, don’t let the 5% (who are usually far more vocal) deter you from your chosen profession of helping others. This lady only lashed out at you because her compulsion to pick unreasonable fights has probably cost her all of her friends and she has nobody else to be mean to until her little trophy gets big enough to talk. The rest of us really like and respect you :)

        • Also shaw

          Wow. OP is probably on maternity leave. Although that makes her lucky in that many people don’t have that option, I don’t think that necessarily makes her a ‘lady of leisure’. Have you ever been on maternity leave? For me, it was harder than my job. I just went back to work… wouldn’t have had time to hang out on POPville commenting if I were still on my “leisurely” maternity leave, that’s for sure. Let’s not turn everything into a class war. And for the record, as district employees, DC public library workers get up to 8 weeks of paid family leave, which is nowhere near enough, but still more than I got as a private sector worker.

          Anyway, OP, you’re a new mom, you’re sensitive, you’re probably sleep-deprived, you may be sick of people commenting on and trying to control what you do with your body (as I think many women are, not just pregnant and breastfeeding women), and some of us know where you’re coming from. Hang in there, and consider that maybe the assistant was trying to help you. Lots of people will try to “help” you in the coming months. Up to you whether you accept or decline it, and how gracefully you do so.

  • Anonymous

    I just feel the need to say the exact same thing that 140+ people have said before me in almost the exact same words. Muuussstttt….ppoossttttt…!!!! +10000.000=1+X / 100

    • Ilikealgebra!


  • General Grant Circle

    BOTH the assistant AND OP need to relax! Talk about blowing something out of proportion! This is like when fights break out because someone thought someone else scuffed their shoes! If OP felt particularly offended, a mean look and a curt “thanks but no thanks” would have sufficed! People are so quick to their internet outrage shaming game!

  • LD

    This thread (not the OP) restores my faith in humanity.

  • anonamom

    I’m a breastfeeding mom, and I nurse my son in public when we’re out and about. So I’m sensitive to the OP’s perspective, but like others, would probably have said something like “thanks, but I can handle it.” 13-year-old boys will be boys, but at the same time, if we don’t nurse publicly, they won’t know that it’s a normal human thing to do. And they need to learn to witness normal human behavior in public places without harassing people.

    A few months ago I was breastfeeding my son at the Renwick, and a security guard came up to me. I tensed up, expecting the worst, but she said: “Ma’am, if anyone gives you any trouble, you let me know.” I thanked her. (No one gave me any trouble.)

    I’m not saying the library assistant acted incorrectly, and in fact she was obviously trying to help. It’s not necessarily her job to protect the rights of moms and babies to nurse in peace, but setting expectations for users of the library would help: this space is free and open to all, nursing mothers and teenage boys alike, but you have to follow the rules. And by the way, those rules prohibit “Engaging in conduct that disrupts or interferes with the normal operation of the library, or disturbs library staff or customers, including but not limited to, conduct that involves the use of abusive or threatening language or gestures, conduct that creates unreasonable noise, or conduct that consists of loud or boisterous physical behavior or talking.” (http://dclibrary.org/behavior)

  • Librarianish

    I’m going to be kind to OP even though “you’ll hear about this online” makes me think she saw stars at the opportunity to have a viral post on Facebook. But here’s what she missed, from a former public library worker:

    Crazy stuff goes down in public libraries, especially in DC. I’ve seen women harassed and assaulted when they were just standing there. It’s possible this library associate had seen some messed up stuff happen to breastfeeding moms (from being watched in a gross way, to being harassed, to being actually videotaped/assaulted) and wanted to clue OP in to prevent harm coming to her. Especially since libraries don’t always have the security infrastructure to protect people as much as they’d like.

    And yeah, as soon as you start threatening any kind of legal/public action, I’d be filing an incident report too, just to cover me. You may not know this, but a lot of people give us the “these are my tax dollars at work, DANCE, MONKEY” treatment and we’re quite ready for trouble. Yes, you pay taxes, that doesn’t mean you can shout at and abuse workers. You should have given the library staff member the benefit of the doubt–it’s really hard to read everyone’s minds when you’re a public servant just trying to avoid a social media smear incident.

  • anon

    Wow, people are getting nasty. The OP may have overreacted, yes. But it does not make her a horrible person. People can make mistakes and learn from them. None of you judgemental commenters, I’m sure, have ever mis-read a situation or made assumptions about another individual who was honestly trying to do what they thought was right.

    • dcd

      If you think is nasty, your radar gets adjusting. People are saying she overreacted, and being pretty darn nice about it. Universal disagreement =/= being nasty.

      • anon

        Many people have gone beyond simply saying that she over reacted. People here called her a horrible person, said she’s ridiculous, a self-righteous egomaniac, said ‘good god grow up’, and have generally mocked her. That’s not nice. and it’s not deserved. I remember when I was a nursing mother of a newborn and if i was reading these things about myself, I would have been really upset. She’s not a bad person.

        • dcd

          It may not be nice, but it’s a far cry from nasty. As for whether it’s deserved, well, in the words of Dalton, the world’s most awesome cooler, “Opinions vary.”

        • HaileUnlikely

          I agree with this. I was unnecessarily mean (in my comment above suggesting that the library assistant should have demanded to speak with the OP’s supervisor) and I’m not proud of that. I had trouble resisting, though. I respect people who work in low-paid service industry jobs, I understand that their jobs are important to them and their families, and I recognize that what somebody on the other side of the counter might be regarded as out-of-bounds is to them altogether innocent or even an attempt to truly be helpful, and I think threatening to go to somebody’s supervisor is a really really really really really sh!tty thing to do, and should never be done for reasons that are not unambiguously grave.

    • Dan

      What do you expect when you come to a public blog with your personal problems or experiences sharing it with total strangers.

    • dcd

      “made assumptions about another individual who was honestly trying to do what they thought was right.”
      I’d be a lot more sympathetic to this point if the OP’s first reaction hadn’t been that she’d be posting about the “incident” online. Rarely can an overwrought blog post be considered “doing the right thing.” I’m sure Spike Lee would agree.

      • Shaw

        Hey dcd, I’ve gone through and read a bunch of your posts on this thread. They are very mean spirited and sarcastic in a borderline nasty way. What’s your problem?

  • Dan

    My question, why would someone post this online a blog? What can the readers do for her? People need to learn social skills and stop depending on cells, texting, computers, and posting their problems online. Just my opinion on this matter.

  • OffTheAvenue

    Stupid, unneeded, and inappropriate comment by the library assistant. Overblown response by the OP. When I had a baby, I was AMAZED at what people/strangers felt free to say to me–I didn’t breast feed…but I did have the nerve to wear baby in a sling, and some people thought that translated to ignorant parent who needs to be told how dangerous that is. I got used to it; sometimes made a [email protected] reply, sometimes smiled and said nothing, sometimes ignored. Shrug.

  • Los

    Am I the only one that thinks that, in an alternate universe, the OP is complaining that a librarian did not warn her about rowdy teens were about to come in and get cheap thrills from watching her exposed boob?

    • FridayGirl

      Nope, same thought here.

  • Jen

    Why can’t everyone just leave women alone, particularly breastfeeding women?

  • Shaw

    It sounds to me like the librarian was trying to get the mom to leave the library and I think the OP’s anger is justified. For all of the people who believe the librarian’s comment was innocent- put yourself in this mom’s shoes and consider this- what is the mom supposed to do? Take her starving child off of her breast and go into the street to feed him? Or into an unsanitary bathroom? She needs to feed her baby and at that moment, she has no alternative. She is quietly doing this in the children’s section. Maybe the librarian should be more focused on doing her job and controlling the impending crowd of unruly adolescents, than in interfering with a perfectly normal, fully legal and rule-abiding process. Plus, cut the OP some slack- were you there to witness the librarian’s tone? If the librarian had an alternative place for her to feed, then sure, feel free to come over and offer it. Otherwise, let the mom do her thing without butting in.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I hope that fear of touchy people like you or the OP never stops anybody from warning my wife or me if were are in a position of maximal physical vulnerability and a bystander has knowledge that a large number of unruly teenagers are 30 seconds away. It would be great if said bystander (whether paid staff or no) could magically control the group of teenagers, but if we can have the sense to stipulate that the librarian just can’t do that, because face it, she just can’t, then yes, I’d appreciate the heads up and I’d be irate (not at them but at you and people like you) if somebody declined to give me one out of fear of offending me.

      • Shaw

        @HaileUnlikely sounds like you don’t (yet) have children. When you do, perhaps you will better understand what new mothers go through and be more sensitive. I wish you the best of luck if you ever describe your wife as “touchy” during that time.

        • HaileUnlikely

          You are correct that I don’t, but a.) the OP had plenty of time to sit and reflect between the time of the incident and when she composed this post and seemed to still deem it reasonable, and b.) threatening to report somebody to their supervisor over something that isn’t illegal or threatening is in my opinion altogether wrong 100% of the time. And seriously, I would be grateful for the heads up if my wife or I were in a relatively vulnerable position under tranquil circumstances and somebody else had knowledge that the circumstances were about to become distinctly not tranquil.

        • HaileUnlikely

          p.s. I get that sometimes people are going through a lot and snap and respond to things in ways that they aren’t proud of. That sucks but it’s pretty much inevitable. The fact that the OP still held the belief that the totality of what she did, including threatening to report the librarian to her supervisor over this, was right, hours after the incident when she got around to writing this, is what bothers me so much about the whole thing. While I recognize that nobody including me can know how we would feel or act when faced with a situation that we aren’t in, I absolutely cannot imagine being anything but ashamed several hours after the fact if I had spoken to somebody in this manner and threatened to report somebody to their supervisor for anything short of behavior that was illegal or dangerous.

          • Shaw

            @Haile since you haven’t walked a mile or even an inch in her shoes, I suggest you refrain from judging. One day, when you have a newborn, you may find yourself deeply ashamed of your comments on this thread. Internet shaming a new mom when you have no idea what it’s like to be in her situation is wrong, mean spirited, and unfair. You weren’t there- you cant judge the tone or intention of the employee. All of these comments are based on what the mom wrote and she may not have completely conveyed why the librarian’s behavior was inappropriate. Guess what- managing a very small child is very very difficult- cut her some slack if she didn’t take 2 hours to perfectly frame her Popville post like many of you seem to have the time to do. As a new mom myself, I appreciate her PSA that some of the employees in that library interrupt and bother nursing moms when they are doing their thing.
            It’s really unfortunate how nasty this community is toward new mothers. For further proof, look back at the comment thread from the pregnant lady who was denied use of a restroom at the Heights.

          • dcd

            @Shaw, we’ve got a little pot/kettle thing going on here. You weren’t there either, you have nothing to go on but the posting, and yet you have decided that because one of the actors is a new mother, she is justified in her actions. You’re giving her the benefit of the doubt, when you can’t judge her tone or intention either.
            And consider this – ALL opinions here are based on the OP’s posting, which undoubtedly she wrote to portray herself in the best possible light. When the vast majority of people posting have said (most of them very gently) that based on OP’s own characterization that she overreacted, well, that should tell you something. And before you ask, I know very well how trying an having an infant can be. But while that makes an overreaction understandable, it doesn’t excuse it. Your posts vacillate between “The OP is under a lot of strain, people should remember this” (which I agree with) and “The OP’s anger is justified” with which most people (many of whom have children, so leave that card in your pocket) disagree.
            Finally, while some may have been a little harsh, no one (or very few here) has been nasty. And Halie certainly wasn’t. Disagreement does not equal being nasty, even when that disagreement is directed at a new mother.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Shaw – I did say one thing up above (not in this sub-thread here) that I am ashamed of and wish I hadn’t said. Further up, I said that if I were the library assistant and didn’t need my income, I would have asked the OP if I could speak with *her* supervisor. That was mean spirited and wrong. I am ashamed that I said that.
            I stand by everything I said here, though, and this is why: the OP threatened the library assistant’s job. If the library assistant is a retiree who is financially secure and is just working to pass the time, it might be a little different (maybe), but in general, threatening an adult’s job over what I think was fairly clearly a failed attempt to be *helpful* is about two thirds of the way to threatening to burn the library assistant’s house down and murder her family. If she had simply told the library assistant to go F* herself, I’d probably still rate it as an overreaction, but it wouldn’t bother me enough to bother to post anything. Threatening somebody’s job because you were offended by their innocent attempt to help you is completely unacceptable 100% of the time regardless of who is doing it or why.

          • Shaw

            @dcd I am providing an alternate perspective that appears to be in the minority on this thread- but that doesn’t make my opinion any less valid. the vast majority of posters here were very quick to judge and many of thir comments are shockingly mean-spirited, and, yes, nasty. Moreover, it looks like most of these people here have zero experience breast feeding or dealing with a baby and therefore aren’t really in a position to understand and judge.

            I don’t see anything hypocritical in my posts.
            Appears that you misunderstood my point about how difficult it is to manage an infant: I’m not saying she over-reacted because of strain; on the contrary, I think her reaction may have been justified, depending on the tone of the assistant librarian. What I’m saying that you should cut her some slack if she didn’t properly convey the details of the incident in her posting and spend hours crafting it- few new moms have that kind of time.

            You feel she wrote the post to show herself in the best possible light; I view her post as a PSA to other new moms and to the community at large that this library – or perhaps librarian- may try to make you uncomfortable and push you out if you try to breastfeed there.

            I don’t view my experience managing an infant currently as a “card to play”, and frankly, I think it’s weird that any parent would describe it that way. Once a few years go by, most people don’t remember so vividly how difficult it is with an infant – that’s part of the magic of evolution and raising kids – it’s one of the reasons why people have more than one child.

            Sorry if you don’t have the ability to appreciate other people’s experiences and opinions if they don’t mesh with your own.

            @Haile- it’s good of you to acknowledge that you regret some of your comments above. I find that the meanspirited posts really build into a frenzy on this website and many people go too far. It’s rare for a person to recognize it and walk their comments back when they go too far.

          • Shaw

            Ps: looks like there is another commenter named “shaw” on this thread whose opinion is the opposite of mine.

          • Shaw

            One last thought on this @Haile- just because she asked to speak to her supervisor doesn’t mean she threatened her job. Giving negative feedback on someone isn’t the same thing as demanding that a person get fired.

    • neighbor

      No matter what the tone was, the library assistant didn’t say that the OP had to stop or leave. A quick “Thanks for the heads up. I’m pretty sure I’ll be ok” is all the OP had to say back and it would have been over.

  • Eric

    OP is at fault here for lashing out at an employee who was just trying to be helpful.

  • Alf

    That is a shame. I have breastfed my daughter on that very bench a dozen times and never have had an issue. Sounds like an overzealous employee. On a different note, I highly recommend the lap time story time at that library. The woman who usually runs it (who I hope is not the person with whom you spoke) is wonderful.

  • Newtonian

    I’m a parent of an almost 1-year-old and I’ve been thinking about this story since I read it yesterday. In short, it seems like there was a misunderstanding between OP and the library assistance regarding their respective intentions and that the situation needlessly escalated to an 11. However, I sympathize with OP because my experience this past year has been that the District is not very family-friendly. I’m not OP and I won’t pretend to know her thought process, but perhaps her response was the by-product of built-up frustration and she flew off the handle.
    Being a parent in DC is hard, especially if you rely on public transit or don’t have a nanny at your disposal. While this doesn’t apply in all cases, it seems dogs are regarded more highly than children and their parents, and some of the comments posted by readers of this story or this blog only reinforce my opinion. It’s fine to dislike kids or never, ever want them; in fact, please do us all a favor and keep using contraception so that your accidental children won’t have to spend years in therapy because you made them feel unwanted or unloved. However, please don’t treat my child and I as though we’re inconveniencing you with our mere public presence when we are keeping to ourselves and minding our own business. DC increasingly seems like a city that caters to young, single people without children, and I say that as an early 30something female who was single without a child (like you!) until a few years ago.
    My child is with me all day, every day on weekdays (can’t afford a nanny/babysitter…yes, I know that’s not your problem) and we have a short list of establishments we frequent where we feel welcome (standouts include Pleasant Pops and Tryst/Open City/The Coupe – thanks for being nice to us!). I’ve taken great lengths to try not to impose on others when I’ve taken my baby out in public. I’ve never taken my baby to an “adult” establishment, I breast-feed in the bathroom, and I only dine out and run errands between 10am and 3pm on most days, so I can go about my day without much hassle or fuss and avoid crowds. I’ve only lugged bulky baby gear on transit when I went to the airport that one time or when I needed a car seat at my destination. Yet, I can’t tell you how many times shade has been thrown in my direction because I dared to visit somewhere occupied by someone who doesn’t want a kid around. I’m talking to you, person camped out with a MacBook at the coffee shop where I’ve stopped in for a 2pm coffee. Your sighs and side eye says, “How dare you bring your child here at 2pm on a Thursday and interrupt me while I code/check Facebook/FaceTime/study in this public place!” If what you’re working on is so important, go to your f%^&g office, get a Cove membership, or get over it. Sorry, but coffee shops and other public establishments do not exist to serve you and you alone. I would also like to remind these people that they were children once and they probably got on someone’s nerves at some point.
    Child haters aside, there are many places you just can’t go with a child (or, more specifically, a stroller) because of inaccessibility. DC is full of buildings without elevators where you have to walk a flight of stairs to reach your destination. I’ve been able to tuck my baby into a pouch and wear her for almost a year, but she’s getting tall, heavy, and squirmy, so soon our only option will be a stroller. There are plenty more places say they are accessible, but sometimes aren’t, which is equally, if not more, frustrating. Example: DC Circulator’s website states that children in strollers are permitted on buses (http://www.dccirculator.com/ride/bus-basics/strollers-on-bus/). Nice in theory, but why then have I been sternly told by the driver of an almost-empty Circulator during a non-peak period that I must take my child out of their stroller and fold it, when I was able to ride a different Circulator driven by a nicer driver with my child in the stroller one hour prior? Even though the rules are crystal clear, they vary depending on who’s in charge.
    In that same vein, I read this morning’s “rant” and the ensuing discussion about strollers on Metro escalators. I haven’t ever been in the position where I would have to wheel an open stroller onto an escalator, nor do I plan to any time soon. In fact, I’ve all but avoided the Metro due to its multiple safety issues, so you probably won’t have to deal with us getting in your way any time soon. However, Metro and its entities are notorious for stating that their trains or Circulators are stroller-friendly, only for that to be untrue when you are riding with a child in a stroller (see above). I’ve been the person hyperventilating when it’s taken me an extra *10 seconds* to walk down an escalator because someone/something was in my way, but now I have other, more consequential things to worry about. If that’s a huge deal to you, fine, but it’s a lot easier to judge someone when you’ve never been in their shoes. Or, kinda like what others said, t’s easy to judge parents and their kids when you have no idea what it’s like to be responsible for someone other than yourself. Life’s a lot easier when you take a deep breath and let it go.

    • BlueStreak

      “When you have no idea what it’s like to be responsible for someone other than yourself.”
      Please. Don’t assume things about people you don’t know.
      And because some people don’t think kids belong in every possible venue (and maybe you don’t do this, but I’ve seen kids in EVERY possible venue) doesn’t mean they are kid haters. It’s a straw man response.
      This is a city. Everything isn’t meant for kids. If you want that, move to the burbs. If you don’t want dirty looks, move to the burbs. Otherwise deal with some of the incovenience and rudeness that everyone in the city has to deal with, even those folks without kids.

      I’ve lived in many places, and one thing is constant. Parents are by far the most entitled people everywhere.

      • Also shaw

        If we keep forcing people with kids to move to the burbs, then we repeat the endless cycle of encouraging sprawl and reducing parent investment and involvement in our public schools, making them even worse. Kids are good for cities because they make them more diverse – economically, socially, culturally. And cities can be good for kids too. I think of the city as a MUCH healthier and enriching environment than a suburb where my kids would have to get driven everywhere and perhaps never encounter people of a different socioeconomic group, race, or religion. I don’t expect everyone to cater to me, as a parent of a baby. I’m not trying to hang out with him in nightclubs or super-fancy restaurants. It wouldn’t be fun for anybody! But, you know, taking the bus? That I’d like to be able to do.

        • BlueStreak

          Oh no. I think kids should be able to live in the city, and I think it’s actually good for kids to live in the city. What I’m saying is that if you can’t take a little shade thrown your way about bringing your kid somewhere, you should move. Because it’s a city. And if you have to take your kid everywhere and want everything kid friendly, then maybe suburbs are a better fit for you.
          There are clearly people who thrive here with kids. And these are most likely the people who can roll with the punches and not fee like everything is owed to them simply because they have a kid in tow.
          I’ve had shade and dirty looks thrown at me for all kinds of behavior and I don’t have a kid. If I inconvenience or annoy someone they are likely going to be displeased, kid or not. Don’t assume people are kid haters.
          All I’m saying living in a city is hard. Having a kid is going to make it harder. People in the city are not nice all of the time, and people do not always care about others all of the time. And sometimes that includes your child.
          If a person can’t deal with those realities, then yeah, they should go to the suburbs instead of labeling and entire city and all of its inhabitants as “kid haters”

    • dcd

      “but now I have other, more consequential things to worry about. . . . it’s easy to judge parents and their kids when you have no idea what it’s like to be responsible for someone other than yourself. Life’s a lot easier when you take a deep breath and let it go.”
      I was with you right up to the end, when you resorted to this self-indulgent, condescending claptrap. It’s attitudes like this – “I have the most important responsibility ever, you couldn’t POSSIBLY understand” – and the implied (or sometimes explicit) corollary “so everyone must accommodate me, and don’t dare let me even sense that you’re annoyed!” that gives parents a bad rap.

      • ANC


        I’m a mom, and the self-righteousness apparent on some of the parenting listservs… it’ll give you nosebleeds.

    • Anonamom

      I agree with you for the most part. However, one thing I have found as a parent in this city is that your attitude means a lot. You don’t have to bend backwards in order to be an unobtrusive parent. Please, for the love of god, stop feeding your baby in the toilet. That is just so demoralizing and dehumanizing. I know how you feel, that is how i felt with my first child, but let me tell you, it felt SO MUCH BETTER not being so damn self-conscious and worrying about how we affected other people. I think you would feel better as a parent by adopting just a little bit of a DGAF attitude when it comes to those who throw you shade. Be empowered as a parent. People get thrown shade ALL THE TIME for various reasons in this city – the way they look, how heavy or how skinny they are, if they cycle or drive to work, everything! Being a parent with a child is just one of those things. Life is so much better when you learn to tell people to fuck off (it’s ok, you can just do it in your head – same affect and probably safer) and go about your day.

      • Kate

        +Eleventy billion

  • C_petworth

    have not read all the comments here so I apologize if this is repetitive. I got the feeling from the first 30 or so that people thought the librarian was in the right here and the OP over reacted and I have to disagree. Either we are associate that allowed women to breast feed in public or we don’t and right now (thank god) it looks like we are for it. Instead of the librarian coming to the OP to warn her about the teenagers , she instead should have, if the teenagers did act out, warned the teenagers that breast feeding in public is allowed and that the library does not tolerate making women feel uncomfortable about it . It might be a stretch but it kind of feels like when teachers ask young teens to cover up in schools to prevent the boys from getting giggly/ or saying rude comments instead of shuting that behavior down and encouraging the young men to respect women’s bodies. Maybe the OP overreacted but if she has the right to breast feed her baby then she has that right and the assistant in this situation did not really have any reason to approach her.

    • theories

      yeah this makes sense in theory but if you think it makes sense in practice in DC you haven’t been here long enough.

      • Also shaw

        Ah, the tyranny of low expectations. Didn’t the OP say she stayed and nursed her baby and didn’t have any trouble?

  • Guest

    Maybe an “oh ok thank you” would have been a better response to the library assistant. She warned you about what was about to happen and you accepted whatever the results may be.

  • Otis Gal

    I frequent this library often. The after school scene there is nuts – teenagers are out of control. They curse loudly, eat, drink & generally act like they’re at a party. This all happens in the children section. The librarian can only do so much to try to keep it under control. I’ve interacted most of the people that work there and they wish they could do their jobs – not police behavior of these unruly teens.

    It was above and beyond of this particular librarian to alert the OP.

  • Hi OP,

    I am a breastfeeding mother and also the Executive Director of Collective Action for Safe Spaces, an organization working to address public sexual harassment and assault in our city. Public breastfeeding is a street harassment issue, and your experience is valid.

    For commenters questioning OP’s motives in sharing her experience at the library, please understand that this mother was made to feel that she was not welcome in a public space. It reinforced the idea that this mother’s body exists for the male gaze and not for the purpose of feeding her child. The library staffer’s comment put the onus on the mother to avoid harassment rather than calling out harassing behaviors when they occurred. This is a form of victim blaming, and it is unacceptable.

    DC Public Library staff is clearly in need of training on how to respond to harassment and how to make all patrons feel welcome and safe.

    OP and others interested in urging DC Public Library to better address this problem, I encourage you to join me at DC Public Library’s budget oversight hearing on Wednesday, April 13th: http://bit.ly/EdOversight16.

    If you have questions or need support, please contact me at [email protected].

    Thank you for sharing your story, OP!

    • General Grant Circle

      At the real heart of the issue here is rowdy teens harassing people. I dont think the librarian would be particularly successful in convincing a group of young teens harassing someone that they are “reinforcing the idea that the mother’s body exists for the male gaze”. I am interested what the training proposed here for DC library staff would consist of beyond telling the staff to report it to DC Library police?

      • I recommend that DC Public Library police officers receive training to respond appropriately to harassment and stop engaging in harassing behaviors themselves.


        DCPL must also take steps to prevent harassment, such as implementing an awareness campaign.

        • General Grant Circle

          Sure, and in theory it is all well and good for people to be trained to respond to harassment and to change our culture and all that good stuff. But at the end of the day, in practice, we are talking about kids that have no problem ganging up on people on bike trails, metro cars, wherever. Its not really a question of “should this happen” (it shouldnt) but “this is about to happen”. Should someone be harassed? No. But I dont buy that warning someone that harassers are going to show up is “victim blaming”

    • Them2

      The world you want to create is one that would treat my grandmother — a Black woman with specific notions of femininity that includes strength, wisdom and, yes, a reserved demeanor — as a backwards, social pariah that deserves tongue-lashings from the millennial social media mob for having a worldview that differs from their own. Your comment implicitly empowers so-called liberal women (most likely white, mostly likely privileged) to condescend to whomever they disagree with. And that’s dangerous.

      If this were an older woman that “warned” the OP, do we not believe that we should respect our elders even if you find their beliefs outdated? And even if she wasn’t older, can’t we assume that the conclusions about life that people come to are the results of their lived experiences that, for them, has logically led them to their beliefs as a matter of survival? And aren’t those lived experiences and hardships deserving of respect in and of themselves? Wouldn’t the world truly be a better place if the OP regarded the woman as an equal who has simply had different lived experiences and therefor different conclusions about life? A response more along the lines of “Thanks for looking out in the way you think is best, but that’s not how I see things.” If this were a man speaking to the OP, it would obviously be a different scenario. But this was a woman with valid conclusions about life speaking to another woman with just as valid conclusions about life.

      So while librarians may need some training and education around so-called liberal millennial’s beliefs and how to navigate them without inciting a riot, it looks like the so-called liberal millennial needs some training that’s a little more fundamental in nature — on empathy and love.


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