I will never forget the first time I took Sloan out to eat. She was 3 weeks old and I was three weeks into planning my life around a baby.
I was meeting a friend at Panera Bread, and as soon as I pulled into the parking lot, I was overcome with this intense fear. There were so many people, germs, noises, and honestly, I didn’t know if I could take care of her beyond the safety of our home.
In need of a little (grown) human interaction, we made our way into the very crowded café and found a spot in the back.
Almost immediately, I had complete strangers coming up to me, marveling at her dark hair and how small she was. I said the obligatory, “Thanks,” and, “Yeah, she’s pretty cute,” feeling a little more at ease.
Which, of course, is when it all went downhill. The lunch rush poured in, and my sweet little baby turned into a hungry tyrant within seconds of us getting our food.
Already in a panicked state, I could feel myself getting flustered, my cheeks getting more red with every shrill cry for food.
» IF YOUR BABY IS DUE TO EAT WHILE AT A RESTAURANT, BE PREEMPTIVE AND ORDER A MUG OF HOT WATER RIGHT WHEN YOU’RE SEATED.
To be fair, she wasn’t losing her mind, and she hadn’t been crying for too long, but knowing the only person that could fix it was me felt like I was stuck in slow motion.
As I fumbled with her bottle, still too new at breastfeeding to feel confident in my public abilities, I began to notice people staring. They were staring at me, at Sloan, and at my dear friend who bounced her in hopes of calming her until I was ready.
And as much as I hate to admit it, for a split second, I felt embarrassed. In my mind I should’ve been quicker with her bottle, or better at soothing her, which is when I remembered she was a baby.
No, she was a newborn and I was a new mom and that’s when my Mama Bear started to shine through.
I was astonished at how many of those turned heads were staring in annoyance and not admiration. Here I was, out with my new baby, keeping her and myself fed and safe, and it was as if we were running around throwing our baguettes at people.
As the weeks have gone on, I have learned how to turn my anger into understanding. The group of ladies meeting for book club have no idea that Sloan was up all night, or that this is the first time I’ve sat down for a cup of coffee in four days.
What I've Learned...
» NO MATTER HOW CONFIDENT YOU ARE THAT YOUR BABY WILL SLEEP THROUGH YOUR COFFEE DATE, ALWAYS BRING THE DIAPER BAG.
» PEOPLE AREN’T PAYING AS MUCH ATTENTION TO YOU AS YOU THINK THEY ARE. SO TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND FINISH YOUR CHIPS AND SALSA.
» UNFORTUNATELY, CHANGING TABLES ARE NOT ALWAYS AVAILABLE. BRING A FOLDING CHANGING PAD AND BLANKET FOR EMERGENCY FLOOR CHANGES.
They also don’t know that she cries when she’s sleepy, and letting her lay down is the best thing for everyone involved.
I guess what I’m saying is, if I’m going to expect people, strangers, to show me and my baby compassion and understanding, I need to do the same. Ignoring someone’s ignorance, especially when it comes to parenthood, will always put you one step back.
The truth of the matter is, there will always be someone that thinks your baby is too loud, misbehaved, or even annoying. The thing to remember is that you have as much of a right to eat a three-course meal as the cranky old guy in the corner does.
Don’t let impolite people ruin what could be a great adventure for you and your baby. New sounds, foods, and people will meet you at every restaurant, café, and bakery you go to. Focus on the learning experience, the good coffee, and showing your baby what it means to enjoy.