New Moms: We’re Not Judging You

Thursday September 22, 2016

I sat on Muni yesterday, rolling along, when I realized I was absent-mindedly staring at a new mom, small baby packed away in an Ergo.

In that moment, she noticed me noticing her, and immediately looked down.

I distinctly remember being on the other side of this. New baby strapped in, getting slightly fussy on the N, that feeling of light panic that she might start screaming at any moment and then in the midst of my panic, notice all the people glancing over at us.

I felt their judgment. I should have put warmer socks on her. I couldn’t keep one of those godforsaken little baby hats on her head. I still hadn’t mastered the newborn insert towel-roll contraption and she kind of slumped to one side. They were probably noticing her little feet all jammed up in the belt, but she wasn’t long enough for them to stick out so where else were they supposed go? Whatever you do DO NOT LOOK AT YOUR PHONE.

I had no idea what I was doing, and they were surely all seasoned veterans at this.

What I know now is that seasoned moms, we aren’t judging. We’re actually reliving.

Bean and I used to travel just like that, on this very streetcar, baby in front, snuggling and pointing at the passing cars and blinking lights. What wonderful years those were! I could strap her to my chest and we could go anywhere! The world was ours!

And, fine, yeah, we probably notice all those stupid little things, but in empathy because we did all those stupid little things wrong too: “Eh, that swaddles about to come undone. Man, swaddles. I don’t think I ever figured out a proper swaddle.”

I can’t help but stare at kids smaller than Bean. It’s all the time. Ah, remember that stumbling walk she’d do? All drunken sailor about to smash her face? Was she really that little when she started walking? Oh God, the little feet. THE LITTLE FEET. Remember the little feet? That little swish swish swish thing they’d do when she crawled?

I’ve been with friends with their own newborns, handling other people’s stares. “What is she staring at?” they wonder as they begin to fuss with their baby’s hat. She is reliving her own kids and grandkids first days, weeks, and years; you just sparked a brilliant, happy memory for her.

And then, someday in a few years, you’ll be staring too.




More reading:

Euphoria can wait: emerging motherhood

Baking bread with kids

How to handle strangers’ parenting “advice”



Motherhood, You

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