I had never met this woman before.
I walked down the street in her direction, holding my toddler’s little hand.
I introduced myself, “My name is Montse. I saw the post on Facebook, and I’m here for you.”
Her name is Tanya Reyes, and she is sitting outside her workplace, breastfeeding her beautiful big-eyed daughter, Solana. They both smile, and Tanya invites me to sit down.
On the Facebook post I viewed, her friend, Becca, said that Tanya’s done this since she returned to work after having her baby. Tanya has her caregiver bring her child to the school where she works and goes outside during her unpaid break, so she can nurse her in order to maintain her milk supply—and her connection with her little girl.
Tanya also stays after school for meetings and helps run detention, during which she would wear her little one in a sling. Last week, she was told she could not do this anymore, because it was a liability.
At this school, some of the students are also parents, and they are allowed to bring their children to school—but for some reason, this is different when it comes to Tanya. She is not allowed to be a parenting role model.
This is happening in one of the most “progressive” cities in the world. Tanya works at the Metropolitan High School, located in downtown Los Angeles, California.
While sitting and breastfeeding with her, I heard her talking about how poorly she’s been treated since becoming a mom. How she feels like a second-class citizen at her workplace, and how the Los Angeles School District is responsible for this.
Recently, I wrote an article about International Women’s Day. I wrote about motherhood and the freedom to choose what makes us happy in life—how respecting each other and supporting each other is what will eventually grant us freedom and equality.
I don’t need to be a mom to support women like Tanya.
I don’t need to be a breastfeeding mom to support women like Tanya.
The only thing I need is to care a little bit for what is right—for what is moral and decent.
“It takes a village to raise a child.”
A village is not only constituted my mothers. There are so many other characters that create a functional village, and they all play an important role in supporting and caring for each other’s well-being. They understand the importance of being a community.
Let’s build small villages in our over-populated cities. There are over four million people living in Los Angeles, and only four of us were able to sit down with Tanya and Solana today—that is the 0.0001 percent of the population. I think this number can grow.
Before Tanya went back to work—and the rest of us went back to whatever else we had planned for the day—I hugged her. She said she will be doing this again tomorrow, and the day after that, “until something changes.”
It’s won’t be easy for me to go back every day, but I will do it tomorrow—and I hope that others join us.
If you read this, but you can’t physically join us because you are somewhere else in the world, please use your voice in some way to help. If there’s something you can do about it—anything—please, go and do it. (We all know this is not the only case—this happens all over the world.)
Do something to support other mamas, other women, and other children. Any “other” that is in need of any kind of help.
Let’s grow in kindness.
Let’s respect each other a little bit more.
Let’s love each other a little bit more.
Let’s be a safe village.
**If you do want to come and sit with Tanya, she will be at Metropolitan High School, located at 727 South Wilson Street, during her break from 12:30 to 1:00 p.m.
Author: Montse Leon
Image: Flickr/Chris Alban Hansen; Author’s own
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina