The other day I was spending some quality time on social media when I noticed a post from a member in one of my groups complaining that a stranger touched her infant’s head. She was outraged at the invasion of her baby’s personal space. The possibility of germs. The audacity of the whole encounter.
The post really got me thinking. I remember when I first became visibly pregnant people seemed to come out of the woodwork. Co-workers became acquaintances as they congratulated me and then began to check in with my progress. Strangers began to approach me asking the same questions over and over often accompanied by a belly rub. Was it annoying having virtual strangers touch my stomach and ask me if I was sure it wasn’t twins? Of course it was. But it was also something else.
While you may see your bump or baby as something precious and private, others view it as a great ice breaker to actually interact with someone else.
When I started venturing out with all three of my young daughters the interactions started up again. People often offering the comment that my hands were quite full. Asking if any of my girls were twins, giving me unsolicited advice or side eye as one or more began melting down in public.
I think that when you are in the thick of it, it can be hard to really understand what is happening. While those interactions could be a somewhat annoying part of my day, for the people on the other end, it is a very different experience.
While you may see your bump or baby as something precious and private, others view it as a great ice breaker to actually interact with someone else. Once people saw we had something in common, or an easy way to start a conversation, they took it. You may remind them of themselves at that stage of life or maybe they have grandchildren they don’t see as often as they would like.
We are now living in a society where people are friends on Facebook but avoid eye contact in public. We don’t call our friends, we text them. So if we don’t even have these basic social interactions with our friends, why should we have them with strangers?
To us moms, it might seem like a brief annoyance, but to the one who gets to interact with your baby it is a brief step back in time.
Well maybe because we have a very interested audience. We are the ones teaching the basics to the next generation. When we stop and engage with a senior citizen or well-meaning passerby we are teaching our kids basic human decency. To us moms, it might seem like a brief annoyance, but to the one who gets to interact with your baby, it could be a brief step back in time. Also, while some babies need to avoid exposure to unnecessary germs for medical reasons, most germs just help little ones build immunity.
So instead of having a knee-jerk reaction the next time a well-meaning stranger tries to reach out, why not respond with a little kindness? We can all help make this world a nicer place for our little ones.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.