So this week a weird and slightly upsetting thing happened.
At one point during the day I found myself sitting slurping a vat of coffee at Costa in Sheffield. Nothing unusual there, right? I’m quietly minding my own business, letting my mug of Joe work its magic on my grumpiness and having a bit of Kindle time, when I notice a young woman sidling up to me looking sheepish and obviously trying to get my attention.
I look up and smile. She immediately apologises. Repeatedly, insistently apologises.
Suddenly I notice she has a miniature human in her arms, but the actual proper miniature kind – maybe days old.
She has nappy bags and coats in one hand and she’s dragging a shedload of shopping and trying to squeeze through the tiny gap between the empty chairs at my table and a single corner seat next to me while balancing her munchkin (with a mop of dark hair) in the other arm.
She looks flustered, harassed and red in the face and I can hear the bundle under her arm is working up to a full-blown newborn chin-trembling meltdown.
As I clear a path towards the empty seat in the dark corner next to me for her, she apologises again. She tells me she’ll just hide away in this corner. That I won’t even notice she’s here. That she’s really sorry. Her eyes are pleading with me.
I’ve got to admit I’m completely baffled.
And then the penny drops. She needs to feed her baby.
This poor woman has fought her way to the back of the coffee shop, past all the empty chairs at the front with easy access, over to my little hidden corner of the world because she’s worried that someone might give her a hard time for breastfeeding in public.
It’s 2016, and her baby is hungry, but she feels like she has to hide and apologise.
Of course I do what any normal, decent person would do.
I tell her that her baby is a beauty, that she has no reason to hide away from anyone and that what she’s doing for him is just one of the most awesome things that a mum can do for her little one and she should never let anyone make her feel ashamed or embarrassed for doing it.
I’m not big on being judgmental, but come on people – if mothers can’t feed hungry children in public when they need to (and, FYI, hidden away in corners or dirty public bathrooms does not count) then we’ve got bigger problems in the world than all the Clinton, Trump and Brexit/Remain issues that everyone is arguing about.