Conversation starter & judgement

I still need to get to used to this but I have learned that a baby is a real conversation starter. Over the last months I've been woken up out of my daydreaming while waiting at the traffic light by complete strangers all of a sudden asking me "how old?"  or "A boy or a girl" . It usually takes me a few seconds to realise they are talking to me about Kabouter. In elevators people all of a sudden mumble "how cute, can I have a look?"  and in restaurants couples or children seem to make a detour next to our table and then explicitly wish us a pleasant evening.  At the Christmas markets in Germany Jan was carrying Kabouter on his belly but I was pushing the stroller along anyway as it might come in handy when going to a brasserie or so (bad idea, too much hassle to push the stroller through the crowds while we didn't truly  need it).  For sure 5-6 people commented to me that I had "lost" the baby :) pointing at the empty baby seat.

I'm also learning that you are getting judged constantly as a parent. When children are involved, everyone seems to have an opinion "oh he's not wearing socks, aren't his feet getting cold?" "shouldn't your baby be asleep yet this time of the evening?" "when are you going to start feeding him vegetables?"

The most extreme happened to me in a restaurant in Trier, where Jan who had already finished his meal had picked up Kabouter who had gotten fussy and was walking him a bit up and down in the hotel lobby.  All of a sudden a lady stopped next to me . It  took me a few moments before I realised she was talking English (and for that reason and the rest of her behaviour I assume she had been drinking ) but then I understood she asked me if I was the mother.  When I had confirmed, she all of a sudden started yelling at me and calling me words that I had to be ashamed and that I was the mother and he he HE was walking with the baby and that it was evening and I had to be ashamed!!!    In the split second when I realised that she wasn't exactly going to complement me on my cute baby, I also realised I could not win this discussion in anyway and that any (defensive) explanation would be pointless anyway. My instinctive reaction was to turn my back to her as much as I could and continue my meal completely ignoring her rant...  She then continued her plea and rant about me to some other restaurant people nearby.  Geez.  Anyway, although I have not the slightest doubt that her criticism was not justified,  she threw me quite of my feet and the event haunted me in my mind for the rest of the evening. It also made me realise how more vulnerable you feel when being judged as a mom.

It's good to know as I am also guilty of judging sometimes eg in my pro-breastfeeding opinions that are getting more informed and stronger.  I'd better not, so maybe that evil lady proved me a valuable lesson :p
Meanwhile I do love it when you all comment all behind me back, just audible enough "oooh cute" when I walk by with my precious little one ;)


Jennifer Brown said…
Yeah it's amazing parenting. You become part of this "club" but also because lots of people have been parents they feel like they can tell you the best way.

One of the big lessons I learned as a mom is that there are so many right ways to be a good mom and what's most important is that you do what works for you and your family.

Your story did make me laugh a bit. So old fashioned that she would yell at you for letting the husband take care of the baby. Hopefully it's still not bothering you. If so don't let it. It's ridiculous.

Brian Miller said…
you know...there are just people that are black holes...that woman was out of line...i might have been tempted to accidentally knock my drink in her lap...hehe...

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