One of the lovely things about your new baby is that everyone stops to admire your beautiful bundle when you’re out and about. I used to flush with pride when people would comment on how cute baby S was or mention how blue his big eyes were. (Hey, I still do!) But sometimes people cross the line, just a little. And when I say people, I’m actually talking about a very specific demographic. It was a friend of mine who pointed it out to me. I hadn’t made the connection until she said “do you notice it’s always women of a certain age?”.
Oh, I’m going down a controversial road here but sure, in for a penny, in for a pound!
Here’s the accusation: older Irish women seem to have a penchant for accosting strangers and their babies in shopping centres.
I have two personal case studies of my own to impart.
Incident #1: When baby S was but three weeks old, I had a really successful outing to the local breastfeeding support group. I was thrilled with myself. I’d chatted to other new mums with their small babies. We’d successfully had a cup of coffee and something to eat. We’d all breastfeed in public. I was brimming with confidence as I prepared to go home. I was feeling plucky enough to try and pick up some new babygros for my rapidly expanding baba before returning to the car but when they didn’t have his size, the kind lady in the shop offered to check the stock room for me and things swiftly started to go downhill from there. I had miscalculated when the baby might get hungry again and as the minutes ticked by while we waited for the clothes, baby S kicked off. You know that desperate insistent cry that can’t mean anything else except “I’m starving mama!” I was keen to get home as soon as possible, so rushed through the sale and then rushed to the car park meter. While I was desperately fumbling through my bag for change as the poor baby’s cries grew louder and louder, this WOMAN appears out of nowhere and started rocking the side of the buggy and leaning in to stroke the baby’s cheek. “Ah poor little baby, poor baby” she says. “Isn’t he beautiful? You know he’s dehydrated, don’t you? Do you have a bit of water or anything at all for him?” The polite Irish lass in me bit my tongue and said “I’m just going to feed him now” while she continued to stroke his cheek and rub his head. “Oh, he’s very dehydrated”, she said “but you’re doing a great job, a great job”. What a wagon! I was very upset and flustered then. She was delaying me from comforting my child but stupid manners on my part were just as much to blame. What I should have said was “hey lady, get your hands off my baby – and mind your own business”.
Incident #2: In a distant shopping centre, far, far away – well, just up the road really – another similar event occurred. On the travelator, a woman standing beside me looked down at baby S in his buggy, turned to me and said “Ah! Isn’t he lovely? Beautiful, big blue eyes” and then said the following as she stuck her hands into the buggy and pinched his cheek “Of course I shouldn’t be touching him really. Some mothers these days, they go mad if you even think about touching them.” Politeness prevailed again! AND we were on a travelator. I was so distracted by this conversation, I didn’t realise we had reached the top. She hopped off and went about her business but the wheels of the buggy had turned sideways and we ended up getting stuck with the wheels just bashing again and again against the top of the roller. Next thing I get a bang on the backs of my legs as a cleaning trolley rammed into the back of me. I turned in shock to see a travelator full of people quickly heading my way for a pile up! Luckily I managed to free the wheels just in time. Feckin lady! I was mortified.
It was only through sharing these two stories with other mothers that we managed to piece together a patchwork of similar tales and that’s when the age similarity was spotted.
If you’re a post-menopausal woman reading this and you’re deeply offended, I apologise. But will you do me a favour? Tell your mates to stop touching stranger’s babies. Thanks 😉
Am I terribly bold?