Dear Strangers at Church,
Thank you for taking notice of my baby and I the other day.
I’m not talking about when you interrupted my conversation with a friend so you could touch my baby uninvited. I’m not talking about when you blocked my path as I was walking to the restroom to change my baby (or relieve myself) so you could coo over how adorable my baby is and comment on how novel it is that I’m wearing my baby.
I’m not even talking about when you pushed passed me to grab a hold of my baby’s hand while I was trying to change her diaper (and wouldn’t leave until a friend came in to take over the hand-holding job). Nope, I’m not talking about any of that – as uncomfortable and annoying as it can be. I’m talking about when you and everyone around you were kind enough to turn around in your seats and STARE at my baby and I as she cried unceasingly. You know what I’m talking about.
There was a huge line of people standing in the aisle, going down for Holy Communion and in the absolute opposite direction of where I needed to go to be able to care for my baby. There was no room or way for me to squeeze past them. All I could do was cuddle, shhh, and rock my baby – trying to comfort her – and wait. Wait for the chance to get out of Dodge and go care for my baby. Your staring didn’t help things. My family was already a little too overly concerned with what was going on and kept asking what I needed. What I needed? I needed to be able to take care of my baby and wasn’t immediately able to. I needed them to quit asking what I needed because there was nothing any of them could do to help get me what I needed. I needed all the strangers around us to quit staring at me…some with abject pity and some with some kind of look that screamed “I can’t believe she’s just letting her baby cry like that.” (at least that’s what the look communicated to me). My personal favorite were the people who were looking around like they were just curious and looking for someone. You weren’t looking for someone, you wanted to see the crying baby. At least the other busybodies owned their nosiness. You should know that I would not have sat there for what seemed like eternity while my baby cried and her diaper leaked pee all over both of us. If I had the room to push through that line of people, I would have. I didn’t. If I had the room to change my daughter right there, I would have. I didn’t. I had no choice but to sit there and wait. Your staring – no matter what your motives or feelings were – didn’t help. My baby was crying and she needed a diaper change but she was safe. She was okay. She didn’t need you to stare at her mama. If I looked upset or frustrated when you were staring at me, you should know that I was. I was not upset and frustrated with my baby. She was simply communicating, in the only way she has, that she needed something. I was upset and frustrated that you didn’t have the simple decency to ignore us and just keep praying, or day dreaming, or whatever it is that you usually do in church.
You may not have been judging me. You may have been feeling very sympathetic for me but how would I know that? All you did was stare. Open, blank, questioning, even seeming a little put out…staring. So, what is the point of this letter? Other than to allow me to vent? I’m hoping that it may serve as a reminder that it isn’t polite to stare or to insert yourself where you are not invited. God gave my husband and I our baby and He gave us the ability to care for her. We got this and He’s got our back. If we need your help, we’ll ask. Until then, PLEASE nose out. By the way, if you feel so compelled – if you happen to hear a baby/toddler/kid crying – I’m sure the parents and family would appreciate your prayers. Prayers in & nose out. That’s a good rule to live by until the family invites otherwise.
A Baby Mama