The Disapproving Other Mom
If you read just about any of my posts, you could probably guess that I get this a lot. I’m untidy, disorganized, late, my kids are often dirty, perhaps missing garments, or in their pajamas, or got themselves dressed. For example, my son’s wardrobe choices one day last week: blue trousers that are a bit too short, green shirt, red coat, two odd non-matching boots, tutu. Regrettably I vetoed the tutu before we went out in public. Mostly because it wouldn’t go in the car seat.
They also don’t like playing with baby toys, preferring elevator buttons, Ikea laminate floor sample pieces, or those little pots creamer comes in in restaurants. I’m either in my pajamas too or if I actually manage to get dressed I’ve mostly got the skinny jeans and band shirts from pre-pregnancy days, a couple of piercings, and if I did get dressed then I probably forgot to brush my hair. I have yet to go out in mis-matched shoes, but I’m sure that day will come.
I live in the upper Midwest and there are a lot of moms, of whom I know many and love dearly, but I do get a lot of looks – the raised eyebrow kind – from moms that I don’t know. The bottom line is that I’m used to it. I’m too busy and too broke and too disinclined to go shopping for mommy clothes. I know when to pick my battles, not touching the stove comes way above the subtleties of color co-ordination. If they like plastic pots then I’m not spending money on Baby Einstein stuff that’s going to be ignored. My kids are smart and happy and we all love each other, so I don’t care about the disapproving looks from strangers.
Trouble is, there are a lot of other moms that are much more vulnerable to those disapproving looks than jaded old me. New moms in particular, with a new baby who is still getting used to dealing with the world, aren’t always as blasé.
Because taking a small baby out isn’t stressful enough by itself when you are still getting used to dealing with the world as a new mom. Recently I saw a mom with a tiny baby who threw a fit against going back into the car seat after baby storytime. You know, the arched back, the nonononononononono-someone-call-child-protective-services-I’m-not-going-back-in wail, the thrashing arms. A disapproving mom with a neatly dressed toddler who happened to be behaving itself gave her the look, and the poor new mom looked close to tears.
Babies have no concept of social etiquette, and neither do toddlers. If they feel the need to scream really loudly for no apparent reason, drool copiously, or have the kind of poop that requires an entire outfit change on the day when you don’t have anything clean in the diaper bag, they are gonna do it. And other moms, while almost universally sympathetic, occasionally seem to forget that you can’t make a baby “behave”.
Please, please, please don’t be one of the moms who do this. The only moms who could possibly have the right to give the disapproving look at the ones whose babies never cry, or make a fuss, or drool, or get anything dirty. I don’t think such babies actually exist, but if they do, really, we are the ones who should feel sorry for them. These are the kids who will grow up and collect pencil sharpeners and wear lots of grey and aspire to become parking enforcement officers.