Why it’s been an interesting weekend for parents…

Scheenagh Harrington lets fly about selfish supermarket trolley users and why Pope Francis is an unlikely hero for breastfeeding mums

Supermarket trolleys aren’t normally items that inspire passion (apart from those dodgy ones that track to the left), but last weekend I almost lost the plot over one.

In my home town, one of the bigger supermarkets has chosen to keep its few trolleys boasting baby seats (honest, it only has about six) inside the building. I figured it was so they stayed dry in bad weather, which is sensible enough. However, if you’re one of the lucky few that manages to get your hands on one, you’re instantly painted as someone who is Not To Be Trusted.

Why? Because – unlike any other trolley in the park – when you take one of these bad boys, you are forced to hand over something precious enough to compel you to bring said trolley back inside the supermarket, rather than lazily leaving it out in the car park.

Unfortunately, when I visited, I had three children with me but nothing I could safely leave with the security guard, who followed me into the store to tell me the rules. In the end, after a rather frazzled exchange, I handed over my car keys.

Once I’d finished shopping and passed through the checkout, an elaborate dance ensued as I picked up my keys, dashed to the car, deposited bags and two older children, then ran back to the store (carrying the baby) to return the precious trolley.

But the fun and games weren’t finished. Oh no.

To put the trolley back with the others, you have to lift up the entire front and shove it into the waiting queue. Easy peasy if you have two hands free, but I was clutching a two-month old in one arm and it was so heavy it was damn-near impossible.

Making matters worse – and getting my dander up even further – the security guard stood and watched me struggle – until I shrugged my shoulders, left my trolley standing free and did a runner.

If there’s a moral to this tale of minor inconvenience, it’s that some things that ought to be easy – using a trolley to go shopping – can be made so much more complicated thanks to short-sighted people. If folk could be trusted to return the few trolleys with baby seats to the place where everyone can have access to them (rather than them being spread across a huge car park), then I wouldn’t have had a problem.

But the fact is, and I count myself firmly among them, humans are a selfish breed. Instead of thinking of others, we’re forced into considering the welfare of our fellow parents – sometimes being put at considerable inconvenience to do so.

The next time you decide to cut a corner for the sake of saving a second or two, stand back and reconsider – would it really hurt to go the extra distance if it helps someone else? And if you don’t, would you be content to be labelled untrustworthy?

Thank You Pope Francis

I’m not even remotely religious, though I do appreciate a good church from an architectural point of view, but as a breastfeeding mum, even I had to let out a cry of “hurrah” at Pope Francis’ latest headline-grabber.

By that of course, I mean his urging mums to do what comes naturally beneath the splendid ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. “If they are hungry, mothers, feed them, without thinking twice,” he said at a recent special papal baptism ceremony. And it wasn’t the first time he had given his backing to breastfeeding in public.

While it’s wonderful the leader of the Catholic church is prepared to be so open-minded, I have to admit to feeling a little downhearted that, even now, breastfeeding needs to be condoned in some way.

Breasts exist for one reason and one reason only – to feed babies. Any other purpose is strictly secondary, but the world and its husband appears to forget that simple biological function, rendering breastfeeding as grubby and dirty, something shameful to be hidden away lest it offend the rest of the general public.

It is devastating that this attitude persists in the 21st century, especially when you consider how new mums in the UK are battered over the head with the notion that to do anything other than breastfeed is tantamount to child cruelty. Double standard, anyone?

As I said at the start of this piece, I’m not even remotely religious, but God bless the current Pontiff for his simple eloquence. Let’s hope those who are so quick to see breastfeeding in a negative light get the message too.