In Italy, it is not common to see a woman breastfeeding. In fact, it is not all that common to see babies under 6 months of age out and about. If you do see one, it is always nestled into the utmost fashionable stroller pushed by a mom with perfect hair and lipstick and boots. I don't know how these women do it. I've been told that this lack of breastfeeding mammas has something to do with Italian women not wanting to make a bad impression. I've also been told that many families choose to use bottles and formula-feed, because it looks more sophisticated and less poor. Breastfeeding and baby-wearing are what gypsies do. And being called a gypsy is rather derogatory around these parts. It is something they make fun of. In fact, we even saw some little girls dressed like gypsies for Carnivale (Fat Tuesday. All the kids wear costumes) in Naples this year.
|"Ho fame" means, "I'm hungry." The girl in the background is wearing a baby doll in a sling...|
On our first day in Florence (one of the more sophisticated towns in Italy) with my mom, we had to drive ourselves as close to the historical center as we could get (which, by the way, was a hoot since we were almost out of gas and all the stations were closed on Sunday and Tony wouldn't listen to the GPS, so we were driving down streets that were illegal for us to be on and my mom was having mini panic attacks in the back seat) and then carry all our belongings across the cobblestones to the apartment where we were staying. When we arrived at the apartment door, we had to wait for the owner to let us in. We were sweaty and exhausted and tired and frustrated. And, Alaina was starving. All I could do was sit on the tiny apartment stoop and feed her (from my breast) while we waited. I looked around at my snotty-nosed son, my baby carrier, stroller, and suitcases, and realized what my situation must look like to all the passers-by.
I just tipped my head and smiled to all the onlookers and said, "Um, you can call me Gypsy Queen."