The 20-something New Zealand mother had been forced to relent; her baby was just too hungry. She therefore found herself breastfeeding in public for the first time ever, and that’s when she spied an older woman approaching her table. Anticipating harsh judgement and a scolding for her behavior, the young mom braced herself.
In May 2016 Briar Lusia McQueen from Mount Maunganui, a beach resort town on top of New Zealand’s North Island, was adjusting to her new life as Mom to an eight-week-old son. The baby’s father, Elliott Jamieson, helped – but there was no way he could be there all the time.
So it was just another spring morning when McQueen found herself alone at home with two-month-old Jaxon. This particular day, though, McQueen decided on a change of scene, and mother and baby headed off to a coffee shop. Once settled, McQueen ordered herself a nice cooked breakfast for a little treat.
Not long after, it started. Just as her hot chocolate and plate of eggs were brought to her table, baby Jaxon began to really wail – shattering the peace in the cafe. Recognizing that the cry was of hunger, McQueen put her breakfast on pause and picked him up.
Because her tiny baby was screaming the place down, McQueen felt she had little choice but to breastfeed him right there and then in the coffee shop. The novice mom was self-conscious because it was the first time she had done so in a public area with so many other people around.
“I would usually go back to my car, but because I had my food and hot chocolate already there that wasn’t an option,” she told news magazine website Today.com. So, as discreetly as she could, McQueen began to nurse Jaxon right there at the table. And then something totally unexpected happened. Indeed, it was so out of left field that the story swept the internet.
McQueen had to ignore her breakfast for a little while longer, as clearly her baby’s needs came first. That’s when someone else in the room spotted what was going on, stood up from their table and decided to have a word or two with the breastfeeding mother.
It was at this point that McQueen saw the older woman approaching her. Her initial thought was that she was coming to tell her off for breastfeeding in public; it has certainly happened before to women all over the world. The young mom readied herself, then, for an ugly scene – but instead something beautiful happened.
McQueen had been mistaken. For the fellow coffee shop customer was only coming over to her table in order to do something incredibly thoughtful for the nursing mom.
Once at the table, the older woman said, “What a good mama you are, we can’t have your food getting cold can we.” And then she picked up McQueen’s cutlery and set about cutting up her eggs so that the hungry mom could start eating her breakfast.
She was now able to cradle Jaxon with one hand and be free to use a fork with the other to eat her food. Genius! But just as suddenly as she had appeared, the woman left her alone and returned to her nearby table to resume eating and chatting with friends.
McQueen was so surprised by what had occurred that she never caught the woman’s name, but she thanked her profusely at the time. She even told Today.com how she had “to fight back tears.”
But the older woman seemed oblivious to what a big deal it was for McQueen. “She genuinely thinks nothing of what she did,” she added. “That’s what makes her good deed so pure and selfless.”
But still, the young mom couldn’t get over the kindness. “She was taking care of me the same way my mother would,” she told Today.com. “She made me feel so comfortable and accepted, that’s why I just wanted to cry.”
In the heat of the moment, McQueen still had the presence of mind to take a couple of pictures of the events unfolding in front of her. She posted them to Facebook with a heartfelt message which concluded, “I honestly could have cried — loveliest lady EVER!!” She then watched as the post went viral.
In fact, it attracted almost 330,000 likes and was shared a massive 13,500 times. The story clearly struck a chord with the online community, then, and Facebook users felt compelled to comment on the photographs, too.
Some seemed surprised that the woman had been so friendly to McQueen when so many mothers experience the opposite treatment. One user wrote, “Love this… I got tutted at by an older couple once in a Costa for feeding my son. I was also alone and felt awful.”
Another Facebook fan said, “I’m still angry about the old bag who stomped out of a coffee shop where I was discreetly breastfeeding my daughter, saying I was disgusting and had put her off her morning coffee three years ago.”
It’s clear that not every breastfeeding mother is treated the sympathetic way McQueen was that day. But McQueen hopes that her story will help other moms. She told Today.com how it is important to “normalize breastfeeding by giving the negative breastfeeding comments and stories no attention. Just ignore the haters and focus on the positive stories and support one another.”
Not only that, but she also broadened it out and encouraged people to assist young mothers or fathers out in public “without hesitation or fear of rejection.” What a kind and giving person McQueen will be when she reaches the age of her helper in the coffee shop.