As someone who is kind of obsessed with decluttering and who has legit anxiety attacks when her house is too cluttered, I was unduly excited to tune into the new Netflix show, “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.”
And let me tell you, the show does not disappoint. Kondo is absolutely the sweetest thing ever, and it’s soothing AF to watch her guide families through the stressful and sometimes very emotional process of decluttering. Watching Kondo do her magic is like virtual Xanax for my clutter-phobic soul.
But while I was watching the first episode of the show – in which Kondo helps a couple named Kevin and Rachel Friend declutter their home – something unexpected caught my eye. Throughout the episode, Rachel, the mama of the family, is seen nursing the couple’s daughter, 2-year-old Ryan like it’s no big deal (which it isn’t!).
As a former long-term nursing mama myself, I can’t tell you how happy this made me. We nursing mamas – especially those of us who nurse past 12 months – get a lot of criticism and judgment. Some of it can be downright mean and degrading. So to see nursing normalized this way – and in a very mainstream, popular new show, no less – is just so damn refreshing.
The way the show works is that Kondo and her translator enter the homes of different families who are in need of her help. The Friend family (composed of Rachel and Kevin, along with their two kids, Ryan and her old brother Jaxon) are Kondo’s first project. They are a young family with young kids, and the show very authentically portrays the chaos of being “in the trenches,” so to speak.
As the couple are interviewed and even as they get down and do the work of going through their mountain of stuff, their kids are always there – hanging onto their legs, asking to be carried, begging for snacks. You know, normal little kid stuff that parents deal with whenever we try to get anything done. And in the case of little Ryan, she is seen asking for “boobies,” nursing down for her nap, and nursing while her mom is mid-conversation with Marie.
At times, it’s hard to even tell that she’s nursing. In almost all of the scenes where Rachel and Kevin are sitting on their couch chatting with Kondo, Rachel’s got Ryan snuggled up there on her lap. When I first noticed this, I had a strong suspicion she was nursing, but it wasn’t until a totally adorable scene about 9 minutes into the show that I knew for sure.
The family is sitting around the kid’s room with Kondo and her translator, the kids bouncing off the walls, as kids do. Then all of a sudden, little Ryan blurts out, “Mommy! I WANT BOOBIES!”
It’s a moment that any mom of a nursing toddler will totally relate to. I mean, how many of us have had our kid demand boobies as we were waiting in line at the grocery store or in the doctor’s waiting room?
I loved the way the show handled it. Rachel comes back with “We’re going to do boobies in just a minute.” Kondo asks what “having boobies” means, the translator tells her, and then everyone has a happy laugh.
There is no need to justify or explain away the breastfeeding. There is no guilt or shame. And the next few times it comes up, it just happens. Perfection.
When Kondo is doing a little blessing over the house (she does this before they officially begin decluttering) and the kids are snuggling down in their parents’ laps for naptime, little Ryan is seen nursing to sleep.
In a later scene when Rachel is decluttering the kitchen, you hear Rachel say to Ryan, “Okay, just give me a few more minutes and we’ll do some boobies.” And at the end, as the couple is tearfully reflecting on how transformative the experience was for them, there is little Ryan again, snuggled up and nursing.
I love, love, loved how normal and nonchalant the show was about the whole thing – the way the nursing was just woven into this family’s life like everything else – but I also thought it offered a really cool education on what toddler breastfeeding is like.
For example, not everyone realizes how normal it is for toddlers to nurse all the freaking time (it passes, I promise), or that nursing is a fantastic way to get your little one down for a nap, and also that nursing is sometimes the only way for you to be able to sit down for an adult conversation.
The whole thing just felt true to the experience of nursing a toddler, which is something you rarely – if ever – see. Ten years ago, when I was nursing my first toddler, this kind of thing would have been unprecedented. My gut says it would have been cut from the show, or at least glossed over in some way. Back then, we nursing toddler moms definitely felt like nursing was something we had to hide.
Watching this show brought tears to my eyes because it felt like maybe the tide was really turning, and nursing for however long you damn well please could be a decision mothers had the freedom to make on their own – without anyone’s judgment.
So kudos to Kondo and to the makers of the show for breaking barriers with this issue. And huge love to Rachel Friend for being the badass breastfeeding mama she is, and being willing to show us all that breastfeeding a toddler is a normal and beautiful part of life – one that no one should have to hide.
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