As beautiful as motherhood is, and no matter how much some of us dream of becoming a parent, nothing can prepare us for what it’s really going to be like. No amount of friendly advice or even parenting classes can compare to that moment when you hold a tiny human in your arms and know that he or she is now your top priority. Parenting has its fair share of ups and downs, and there are moments when even the most seasoned moms question whether they’re doing a good job.
One Iowa mom was experiencing this exact sort of self-doubt when she and her husband took their young children out to dinner. The waitress slipped a note to her husband that left the mother speechless.
A Successful Woman
Jackie Johnson-Smith is an Iowa native who has done quite well in life. A veteran of the United States Army, she nobly served her country before settling down in Ankeny, Iowa, to raise a family. Today, she works with the Iowa City Community School District.
And when she’s not working, she dedicates herself to raising her three lovely children. Her priority is to make sure that they are happy and healthy.
Starting A Family
Jackie Johnson-Smith met the man of her dreams, Tom, and the two were married in 2007. Their family expanded over the years as they had three beautiful baby boys. Jackie and Tom are dedicated and loving parents, doing everything they can to make sure their sons have a roof over their heads and food on the table.
The family has had a lot of good times together, doing things like dressing up in silly costumes for Halloween parties. It’s important to have fun in life!
A Night Out Is Usually Fun For Everyone
On Jackie’s birthday in July of 2013, the Johnson-Smiths decided to take their adorable family out to a pizza place in nearby Des Moines, Iowa. They’d never tried a restaurant called Fong’s before so headed over to 4th Street to give it a shot.
They were seated in a booth and eagerly waited for their server to come and take their order. Who knows, maybe this would become one of their new favorite places to eat!
A Surprise At The End Of The Meal
Let’s be honest, pizza is pretty hard to mess up. The Johnson-Smith family sure liked theirs that fateful night at Fong’s, and they ate up every last bite! They felt that the service had been good, too. Overall, this had been a successful family dinner out on the town.
There had only been one interruption in their pizza feast, when Tom and Jackie’s youngest son got hungry and began to fuss.
Outings With The Boys
As a mother, Jackie is quite accustomed to taking her small children out and about as she goes about her day. She’d gotten used to having her three sons with her ages ago… except for one thing. One element of public outings with her boys had always made her feel self-conscious and sometimes even uncomfortable.
That one thing was breastfeeding her children. While Jackie views it as a completely normal and natural part of motherhood, other people aren’t always accepting of mothers feeding their children that way in public.
A Social Stigma
Although Jackie views breastfeeding as one of the most natural things a mother can do for her children, she is well aware that not everyone is so tolerant of the act in public. Whatever their reasons, some people just aren’t comfortable with it.
And some of those people even feel they have the right to say something negative to a mother who is simply doing what’s natural with her small children. Unfortunately, there’s no telling how people will react when nature calls, and a baby needs to eat when out in public with mom.
People Can Be Judgmental
Jackie didn’t like the fact that some people judge women who choose to feed their babies in public. Although our society is gradually becoming more accepting of breastfeeding in public, there are always going to be some people who are “offended” by seeing the natural act.
You see it in the news almost every week, another story about a mom being shamed or insulted by others simply for doing what comes naturally and breastfeeding their children.
Women Are Frequently Shamed For Breastfeeding
Some of these news items about breastfeeding became huge stories. You might have heard this one. In Texas in 2019, a young mother was asked to leave her community’s swimming pool unless she covered herself up while she was breastfeeding her 10-month old son. Misty Daugereaux says she was feeding him discreetly but was still approached by a lifeguard and a community manager who asked to cover up or leave.
Misty opted to leave and later said, “I walked out feeling defeated because I couldn’t … stand my ground.”
Booted From Target
If you thought it was safe to breastfeed a baby while sitting quietly in a fitting room at Target, you’d be wrong. In 2016, a woman was asked to leave a Texas Target fitting room because she was nursing her three-month-old infant in there.
Even more stunning is that store employees informed this mother that she should have never left the house with a hungry baby! The incident caused outrage nationwide.
Fussing At The Restaurant
Back to Tom and Jackie’s family night out at Fong’s pizza restaurant in Des Moines, Iowa. While they were waiting for their food, their youngest child started crying and becoming fussy. It didn’t take long for Jackie’s natural instincts to kick in. She knew she’d have to feed him, and soon.
Even though they were seated in a large booth, the restaurant was packed and Jackie couldn’t help but feel a little nervous about how the other customers would react when she started to feed the child. As she started nursing, she knew people were staring and she felt uncomfortable enough that she decided to move to a more private area where she could feed her son in peace.
Returning To The Table
Jackie found a nice quiet spot to feed her baby, and she had successfully calmed him down enough that she felt it was okay to return to their booth in the restaurant’s dining room. Tom had already gotten their bill, which she had expected to happen while she was gone.
What she hadn’t expected was for her husband to be staring oddly at the bill instead of playing with their other two sons or chatting with the waitress. No, he was just staring at the slip of paper with a strange look on his face that made Jackie nervous.
Tom Wasn’t Upset By The Note, A Good Sign
As he gazed at their dinner receipt, Tom didn’t look angry or perplexed. This made Jackie feel better, and when her husband actually began to smile she relaxed some. Now, she was really curious about what events might have taken place during that brief moment she had stepped away from the table to feed their youngest child.
She reached the booth and sat back down with her husband and children. She’d soon find out what had happened.
She Didn’t Have To Wait Long
As Jackie sat down at the booth, Tom smiled and slid the bill over to her. Nothing looked out of the ordinary at first glance… they had ordered a couple of wheat beers, some garlic bread, and their pizzas. Everything was listed on the receipt, just as it should be.
But wait, there was a handwritten note on it! As Jackie read the message from the waitress (named Bodi), she started to smile just like Tom had been.
A Note Of Thanks
Bodi (pictured) had taken the time to write a message to Jackie while she was away tending to her son. The waitress had written a thank you to Jackie for being brave enough to breastfeed in public.
Bodi was so impressed by Jackie’s courage in the face of public disapproval that she had decided to pay for one of the family’s three pizzas. She wrote all of this in the sweet note and handed it to Tom.
A Little Kindness Goes A Long Way
Jackie continued to stare at the bill and she re-read the message a few times. When she’d been breastfeeding her son at the table just minutes earlier, she was sure that all the stares she was getting were disapproving ones from people who thought she was acting inappropriately.
So it was much to her surprise to learn that one of the people who noticed her breastfeeding thought that the act deserved a congratulations (and a free pizza). Bodi, a complete stranger, had been so impressed by Jackie’s actions that she spent her own hard-earned money to thank the woman.
Good News Needs To Be Shared
The Johnson-Smith family was in very good spirits as they left Fong’s that night. Although they’d looked forward to a family meal out on the town, they never expected it to turn out like this! Not only did they have a happy feeling from the sweet message that Body had sent them, but they’d even gotten a free pizza out of the experience.
Jackie was so moved by it all that she decided to share the story to Facebook after they got home from the restaurant.
Her Story Went Viral
Jackie took a photo of the receipt from Fong’s and wrote out her story about their special experience with the waitress Bodi. She shared it to her Facebook page, and as her family and friends read about it, they all wanted to share the uplifting story too! With all the liking and sharing, Jackie’s post soon started gaining traction and eventually went viral!
Thousands of people around the world had heard Jackie’s special story, all the way from a small town in Iowa.
Jackie Felt Empowered
Although she felt a wide range of emotions at the pizza restaurant that night and in the following days, one of the most powerful things Jackie experienced as a result of everything was that she felt empowered. Yes, she’d had to deal with the unpleasantness of judgmental people and their rude stares, but it was all worth it in the end.
Bodi, the waitress, had not judged her and instead lifted Jackie up with praise for bravely breastfeeding her child in public, a truly natural act that no woman should feel shamed for.
Jackie’s Facebook Post
In the now-viral Facebook post, Jackie was candid when she shared her story with the entire world. “I have breastfed three children… I have breastfed them in countless of places both pleasant and unpleasant, discreetly and out in the open. I have gotten many looks and stares, but tonight erases any negativity I have ever received,” she wrote.
“I ate at Fong’s for the first time tonight. Having a fussy baby I nursed him for awhile in the booth and eventually left the table early as to not disrupt the restaurant.”
Women Empowering Women
Jackie continued her touching and emotional story. “The waitress gave this receipt to my husband. I was speechless and emotional. Although I don’t need a pat on the back for feeding my child, it sure felt amazing,” she shared.
“It is amazing how we women can make each other feel when we empower each other.” Jackie’s story teaches women everywhere that not everyone is out to judge you. There are good people out there and we should all keep in mind that even our smallest actions can have huge impacts on others…. Impacts that can even change lives. What a heartwarming story about life and parenting.