Monday, October 31, 2011

I may talk big, but I'm really a wuss

...and I'm starting to get annoyed at myself. Yesterday at church I encountered one of those people who has the magical, uncanny ability to know everything about a mother and her baby at first sight. Do I sound sarcastic? Good, I meant to. I had steeled myself against such people during my pregnancy and the early weeks of my son's life, having heard other new moms' accounts of over-eager "helpers" overstepping their bounds. I didn't have any truly cringe-worthy experiences (maybe, if I can be allowed a momentary lapse of modesty here, it's because Henri's so wonderful and I'm so well-read that there's really nothing to criticize) so I let my guard down. As my younger brother in-law used to say while "teaching" me to play chess, BIG MISTAKE.
During sacrament meeting yesterday, Henri made it clear that he was in a "bounce me, rock me, whatever you do don't stand still" mood. Nathan had rolled his ankle on our way out the door that morning, so I wanted him to take a load off. I took Henri to the back of the chapel and stood with him in my arms, bouncing and rocking and snuggling. He did okay for a few minutes, but eventually got bored looking around at all the same things. So I took him into the foyer to look at all the pictures of Jesus. He liked that a lot and I eventually sat down in a cushy chair out there to give my back a break. That's when I was accosted (I mean, almost CORNERED) by a gal with a concerned look on her face. She came up to me and asked, "Are you doing okay?" I answered "Yes, I'm just tired," with a polite but confused expression - Henri wasn't screaming and I wasn't aware of having looked troubled or anything.
"Oh," she replied with understanding sympathy in her voice, "is he keeping you up late at night?" Again, I was mildly confused. Um, he's a BABY. Yes, he gets me up at night. That's kind of what babies do, lady.
"Not an abnormal amount," I answered, just a touch defensively. "He's started being a little restless at night, but nothing crazy."
At this point, the lady held out her arms and asked if she could hold him. It flashed through my head to say no - but I was a little grateful to give my arms a break and, to be quite honest, I didn't want to get tagged as the B*tchy New Girl in the ward. Uncertainly, I handed Henri over. Presumptuous Lady then informed me that she is some kind of herbal healer specialist extravaganza (big whoop). I blinked, and it dawned on me what was about to happen. If I'd had any sense, I would have snatched Henri back right then and lied about having to go to the bathroom or something. PL went on to massage Henri's tummy and inform me that he had "hidden gas bubbles" in his tummy and asked, "What kind of formula do you feed him?"
I hope she felt the temperature around her drop several degrees because I said tersely, "I don't."
"Oh you breastfeed?"
"Yes." (No, he drinks soda out of a can and goes through a bag of chips a day - what do you think I feed him, you idiot?)
"Well, do you eat a lot of chocolate? That will bother babies' tummies." (Temperature drops another degree.)
"Not an unreasonable amount of chocolate, no."
"How about lettuce? Do you eat a lot of lettuce?" (I'm sorry, did I make an appointment with you?!)
"I try to eat a salad once in awhile." At this point, she nodded condescendingly.
"Ah, yes, lettuce can make babies very gassy." (What about you, you windbag, what's your excuse?)
Throughout the Inquisition, she has continued to massage Henri's belly and do little baby sit-ups with him - presumably to help him with his "hidden gas bubbles." He was getting really annoyed with this and started to fuss. That's when my good manners crumbled. "Here," I said shortly, "I'll take him." I picked him up and resumed our bounce-and-rock routine and he immediately quieted. I then got treated to another mini-lecture on how to properly brew a rosemary tea to help keep sickness at bay and when to - and to not - take Echinacea. I was pretty much numb with disbelief and irritation at this point, so I can't really tell you what exactly was said, or how I managed to escape, but it looks like I'm going to have to dust off my new mom armor and figure out how to be both firm and polite when I say, "You don't know me or my baby, so shut the eff up."


  1. ohman...i dislike people like that so much! I cant wait to tell them off someday when I have kids. geez. The nerve of some people, i mean, 'bless her heart'.

  2. Yeah, "bless her heart" indeed. I can tolerate a certain amount of input from strangers - I file it under the "best intentions" heading. But that went over the top. Especially when she asked my name - and Henri's. Dude, you have NO idea who I am. You just can't wait to force your "expertise" on a new mom. Oh and newsflash: just because I'm a new mom does not mean I'm stupid and incompetent.