Baby, Meet Your Adoring Public… From a Distance by Heather Bowles
I had intended this entry to be lighthearted. After last week’s deeply personal and trying blog entry, I needed to give everyone, myself included, some much needed sarcasm and silliness. I have things that are weighing on me though, and many of them are completely out of my control.
The easiest issue to address is the overwhelming need some women feel to touch my child in public. I babywear so strangers respect her space because they respect mine. This week, in a big box store, someone invaded that space, and I nearly went down her throat for it. If you are that woman, please allow me to express my deepest sympathy if I scared you. I can’t help but laugh, though. Some people just don’t understand how offensive it is, so I’m going to spell it out, and if you as a parent have this happen to you, you can give them the link to this blog, and walk away, because it’s time people learned.
1. You cannot tell me you washed your hands “just a minute ago”. We are in the middle of a store whose name ends in Mart! You’ve touched a cart, a basket, a piece of fruit, and God forbid you really do go in those public restrooms, because I know you didn’t stand at the sink and whistle “Happy Birthday” to yourself while you scrubbed off. You’re germy. Don’t touch my child.
2. She is in a safe place, against my skin. She is happy, she is healthy, she has a smile on her face. There is no reason for her to need your touch. I don’t know you. That means my child does not know you. Don’t touch my child.
3. I am her last line of defense. And if you think I’m going to fail in my duties to that little girl, you have another think coming. Do I really need to say it again?
Please understand that I am not adverse to being told my child is beautiful. She is very young, and if you’re genuinely paying me a compliment as her mother, I don’t expect you to really know how smart or friendly she is. You may even catch me, on a good day, willing to talk with you about her… briefly. I will, however, be looking for a way out of the conversation the entire time. I have things to get done, and strangers’ attentions make me nervous. It’s the nature of the mommy beast. I’m protective. But don’t EVER expect me to budge on the physical contact issue. You don’t have the right to touch her. Full stop.
Come on, mommies. Tell me I’m not just being overly defensive here. It is flu season, after all, and the world is full of far more meanness than when we were young. If I was ever sick, it was always in the winter, and the largest proportion of crimes against women and children during my childhood took place during the fall and winter holiday seasons in large mall parking lots or outside movie theaters. I am very vigilant this time of year, and that woman came out of nowhere. I was not expecting her approach. Am I being over-reactive? Or don’t you feel the same way when total strangers touch your children?