For people without kids, parenting is weird. When I didn’t have a kid, I didn’t get it either. I didn’t know the joy of setting the little one down for a thirty minute (or second) nap. I didn’t rejoice in a quiet trip to the grocery store. I never felt like people were constantly watching me either.
Recently, I offered to watch Luke while Bex went out to have some time to herself. I’ve heard mommies need that from time to time. She was gone for close to three hours. When she got back, I asked how she spent her afternoon and she said, “I just wandered through the aisles of the grocery store. It was quiet. No one bothered me.” I understood completely.
Alone, you’re free to blend in, slip in and out of places, be invisible. When you’re with the kid, you feel like you’re on display for everyone else’s annoyance.
In the first two months of fatherhood, I’ve experienced the same good and bad glances that I fear I may have given others back in my naive pre-parent days.
When it’s a good glance, I feel good. Just this morning I walked into 7-11 to get a cup of coffee, baby-wearing as usual, and the clerk behind the counter beamed at me. In the past, I would have thought she was flirting with me, but today she looked down at Luke and said “What a sweetie pie!” and I realized that she was actually flirting with him. What can I say, my kid has game. “Thanks. He gets it from his dad.”
When people give me the evil glares though, I have to take a deep breath and remember that they too will be in this position some day. Hopefully, when they’re stressed out and in a public place with a screaming baby. Maybe that’s when they’ll look back and regret ever giving that poor helpless dad with the inconsolable infant any look other than sympathy.
So there’s the evil glares and the “aw cute” stare. There’s also the “What is that?” look. Parents who use a baby carrier might relate to this one.
As you can see, I keep Luke wrapped up pretty good with our Moby Wrap. Normally you can see his face but when he falls asleep, I cover part of his face with the fabric. When this happens, I’ll occasionally attract attention from curious passers-by. Most people can figure out that I’m holding a baby. Only the really rude ones offer their opinions.
Walking through the grocery store yesterday, an old hag reached out and pulled the fabric away, exposing the baby’s face. She exclaimed, “Oh it’s a baby in there after all, not a stuffed animal.” Definitely, a baby ma’am. And if you try to touch my kid without asking again, I’ll stuff you.
I try to pretend I don’t notice these looks. I play it cool, smile, and look in the other direction. But any time someone smiles at me in the store, or tells me how sweet Luke is, I do a happy dance on the inside. So whenever I see another dad with his kid, I make sure to smile or pay his kid a compliment. If it brightens my day, I bet it brightens his too. And maybe, just maybe, it will be enough mea culpa to make up for all the dirty looks I gave in my pre-parent days.
So what about you, Incredi-Folks? Have you noticed your thoughts have changed since becoming a parent? Have you had any good or bad experiences of strangers saying things to you? Maybe you’ve had to stuff an old hag yourself? Let me know below!