Friday, August 9, 2013

Everybody's baby

One of the weirdest and most unexpected things I've discovered about being a parent is how willing I am to let other people into the baby's space. I'm pretty introverted, but the kind of introvert who likes to interface with people well enough to be willing to do it all day. I find my solitude in brief moments in a wild space where everyone is chattering and that's fine with me.

But as an introvert, if I'm just out in public, I want to be left alone for the most part. Saying hi is fine as we pass, but absolutely no mini-conversations. When I lived briefly in the South, there was this "How yall doing today?" conversation that just made me want to hide (and move back north where no chatting was required) that went like this:

"Howdy. How yall doing today?"
"Good and you?"
"Just fine, thanks."

It happened maybe 15 times a day, just as you passed someone around in the world in any old place, with any old stranger. Loathed it.

The entertaining thing is that now the person doing this annoying chatting thing is my spouse. Sigh.

Anyway, I had figured that as a very private person who is pretty ordinary looking (aside from my awesome eyebrow) nobody would be interested in my baby and now baby and kid. I had expected I'd keep people away from any baby because babies were private property, right?


We have adorable, giant eyed babies and the one with hair has curls that are too cute (and seem to be going away now that she's 5 and has had her hair cut). Everyone wants to look at them. Everyone has to stop us and coo and remark on how adorable and all that jazz. It is amazing to me how interested people get in this baby particularly, although that's probably because she is out and about much more than the kid was as a baby born in a harsher winter. I will say the repeated comments are a bit demoralizing and overly Aryan (would you be complimenting my non-pale baby for being so cute? Hmmm...) but otherwise, I don't mind.

Our faith community regularly passes Little Monster around. I'd say on any given meeting day, at least 5 and often 10 people have held her. She is a popular baby (by virtue of being the only baby around) and a social baby who likes to smile at everyone, especially if they have glasses or gray hair like Grandma. We walk in the mall sometimes and every time we run into someone wanting to peek at the baby and exclaim at how cute she is and how we've made hir day.

The surprising thing to me is that it doesn't bug me at all. I am totally willing and happy to pass the baby off to whomever, whenever. I had no idea that I'd be fine toting around everybody's baby.

Example: at the playground, some girl, maybe 7 years old? 8? comes over and asks if she can hold the baby and with zero hesitation, I pass her off. Yes, I stayed fairly close by but I let a total stranger hold the baby for 20 minutes or more. Honestly I stayed close because the baby was fussing if she couldn't see me (this may be a hard phase).

A friend's mom died not too long ago, so we took the baby to the funeral on the premise that babies make funerals easier for everyone, especially if the person who died was old. She acted as a sort of therapy baby and was hugged and cried on by several people and enjoyed by all.

I am so glad that I have this chance to let every random stranger paw at my baby. That 5K we did last weekend? It supported a local organization that helps families dealing with the NICU, baby loss, or extended antepartum hospitalization. It's a great group that's doing lots of cool things. It was very moving to spend the morning with families who have survived the NICU, and with the full range of outcomes. Several kids had trach holes and g-tubes. One of the various bits of swag we got was a bottle of hand sanitizer on a clip that you could attach to your stroller or diaper bag, and I saw that a great many of the strollers and diaper bags were already outfitted with them.

I get to be grateful and enjoy having everybody's baby. It's humbling to remember that not everyone has a baby who can be passed around with ease and to remember to parent the baby you get, not the one you expect to have. This extroverted baby? Clearly accessing some recessive genes in her parents, and being stinking cute flirting with the old folks.


  1. I love this post! There are times where I just want to hold my own baby (usually those first few weeks when they're so tiny), but really, I've always been fine with pretty much anyone holding the kid, and I definitely have friends who think I'm crazy for it!

  2. Yes, its interesting how much more open I am to strangers when I'm with the kids! The boys are always saying hi to people or dogs on the street, which forces me to greet them, or others are noticing and commenting on the boys. Oh, and ours aren't pale and we get a ton of comments (especially my little one, with his giant eyes and dimples).