Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Sisterhood

I've been on a road trip this week, hence the dearth of posts, but I'm back and (mostly) caught up on the homefront, so hopefully I'll be able to post more regularly.

A few weeks ago Joshua and I spent an afternoon at the mall buying some new clothes for both of us. It was well-justified, of course. He is growing like a weed and I missed out on an entire season of cute spring clothes last year due to my ever-expanding belly. Anyway, while shopping I noticed a phenomenon that I also noticed in other times and other places--moms of newborns who all but ignore each other in public.

Until I had my own child I never considered myself much of a baby person. But now I am a baby fanatic. Whenever I see babies in Target (where Joshua and I make at least one stop per week), the grocery store, the mall, or wherever, I always try to greet the mom warmly and make some small talk with the baby (if said baby is awake, of course). It's my opinion that new moms can't have too much support and 'atta girls, and that babies can't be told too often that they're beautiful and wonderful. I only do this, of course, when I have my own child with me so that no one thinks I'm creepy stalker lady.

Anyway, I've noticed that many moms of newborns in public are reticent to interact. Everyone seems to keep to themselves--head down--push cart--don't make eye contact--half-smile if spoken to but keep moving. I think that we first-time moms are so used to the critique that bombards us constantly that we're afraid to interact with each other for fear of even more comparison and potential criticism...Whose baby is bigger? Whose baby is more developmentally advanced? Do you breastfeed? Bottlefeed? Have you started solids yet? The list continues, and the answer to each is an entree into all sorts of possible feedback. It's a shame that we don't feel like we can just support each other through this difficult time of mothering a new baby rather than feeling like we're constantly under the microscope. Of course, that's just a theory. Maybe other moms just think I'm weird for initiating interaction. It's quite possible.

Anyway, I've been "that person" whose baby is hollering in Target as many times as I've been supermom whose kid is a complete angel. I hope to get support in both cases, just as much as I hope to give it.


anna said...

I too am one who smiles and talks to babies and kids under the age of 5. Personally I think kids are just the cutest things and sometimes I think moms need to know that about their kids.

I also love to hold other people's babies. I was so fortunate to have so many grandmothers on the island constantly grabbing for David. At times it felt awkward but on the other hand I was always relieved to have my arms back for a few moments. Plus you get to see your baby from a different angle and they get to see you from a distance, instead of always a in the face view or the while nursing view. I think moms need that break.

And yes my adoreably cute boy is known to throw a fit. Just because he didn't today doesn't mean he won't tomorrow.

Gran said...

Another angle. We have become a very insolated, untrusting society. Mom's are on guard for the potential stalker, snatcher, germ-laden human. Another thot: mom's are busy and always in a rush to take care of kids, keep house, and hold down a job. In other words, too busy to stop and smell someone else's poopy diapers!

Mary Beth said...

Is my own mother calling me a germ-laden, stalker-snatcher? :)

Mary Beth said...

But that does remind me...I was leaving the hospital yesterday and there were a bunch of people outside waiting for the valet service to bring their cars. There was a crowd of people off to one side so I went to see what the deal was. There was a dad with one-week-old twin girls in car carriers, either waiting for the valet or for mom. Most people were very respectful and keeping their distance, but this one lady was squatting in front of them, reaching into their carriers, and pinching their cheeks! While they were asleep! The dad didn't say anything to her...I don't know if he was just that patient or figured that she had to go away soon. Anyway, maybe he could have taken a lesson from the no-talkers in Target. I don't think I would've let anyone do that to my kid.