Graduation is a time to celebrate your hard work and accomplishments with friends and family. But what if you weren't able to attend your graduation because of your family?
That was almost the case for mother-of-three Amber Bowers, who studied massage therapy at Clary Sage College in Tulsa, Okla. That's because her infant, Luna, was still breastfeeding and could not be away from Bowers for a long period of time. Fortunately, the school allowed Bowers to take her infant to the ceremony where she could breastfeed the baby throughout the occasion.
Bowers told the online community Breastfeeding Mama Talk that she did receive some glances backstage at the ceremony, but the response was overwhelmingly positive.
And when a photo of Bowers nursing Luna was posted on a local mom's Facebook, the image went viral.
The image was accompanied by a quote from Bowers:
"I graduated from Clary Sage College, for massage therapy! I woke up, and spent the day with my three children and some family.. I had just found out the night before I had approval to have Luna with me. She hasn't started taking bottles yet, so I was originally going to just skip the ceremony. I wasn't that sad about it at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to be there. So I reached out to Dr. Raye and she got the okay for Luna to be with me. To me, this is just what you do as a mother. I didn't feel like I was doing anything out of the norm, but as I was walking around backstage before the ceremony I started to get compliments as well as eye rolls from people who saw me nursing Luna. Right before I was heading to the main floor, a few women were gushing over the sight of me nursing her and snapped a photo of me. I didn't really think anything of it, and just enjoyed Luna snuggles as I watched the ceremony begin. I was just reflecting on my time in class and just how thankful I was to have the support system I do, to be able to be there that night. When it was my time to cross the stage I was so overcome with emotion and gratitude for my journey! During the ceremony, I received texts and notifications that someone had posted the photo in a local mom group as well as on their page! I was blown away by the kind words, I instantly started receiving and have not stopped receiving since that evening!"
The photo is now making its way around the Internet, and the positive reactions keep on coming. One Facebook user said, "I'm glad her nursing while graduating viral experience was embraced much more than others in the past. I'm hoping it's a sign of normalization."
Indeed, it seems more and more people are coming together in solidarity and support of breastfeeding in public: from a police officer breastfeeding an abandoned baby, to a mother's response to being photographed breastfeeding in a restaurant, to Bowers' recent graduation photo.
But Bowers' photo isn't just about breastfeeding. It's a true celebration of parenthood, as it captures what being a mom is all about. In Bowers' case, that means being a hands-on parent, an all-around multitasker, and now a college graduate.