I just got back, this past Sunday, from a week at my parents’. The flight there was four and a half hours and the flight back was supposed to be 6 but wound up being 5. Good time.
I was nervous, flying by myself with Nugget. It was an incredible hassle – because security is a pain in the butt and entirely UNhelpful. I found myself thankful for the kindness of other mothers who saw me struggling to get all our stuff organized and held him while I got the carrier in place. The flight itself, though – my little Nugget inherited our traveling blood, indeed.
I was truly awed by the kindess of strangers when we boarded the plane – I’d preboarded, and as people sat down around us, almost all of them smiled at me and said “Don’t worry about us, been there, done that.” They were all quite charmed by Nugget and told me to ask if I needed any help. Wow. No one needed to have worried, though – he grumbled a few times because he was tired, but then he either slept or stared at his surroundings & did a lot of smiling & giggling.
I was rather surprised by the stewardesses, on each flight, however. GRUMPY. Not so nice. And not the slightest bit helpful or gracious towards the mother traveling alone with her baby. In fact, on the way TO the east, I was standing in the aisle to walk Nugget around & get him to sleep. I swear one of the flight attendants actually scowled at me for being in her way. I know this sounds awful, but I far prefer European flight attendants. European airlines still have “rules” about only hiring young, pretty, and perky women/men and MAN, do I appreciate that. The flight attendants on most American flights just all seem tired and cranky and bitter.
So. On the way back, people on the plane barely acknowledged us. When we first walked to the boarding area, Nugget was crying – he’d been woken up at 3 am and was tiiiiiiired. People looked at us warily.
Well. He was even BETTER on this flight than the previous one, if that’s possible. He promptly fell asleep. Woke up after a couple hours to eat, stayed up to smile & look around for a half hour or so, then went back to sleep. When we landed and we’d all just stood up, ready to get off the plane, every single person around us actually went out of their way to compliment Nugget and tell me how awesome & good he was. One guy said that he wished Nugget had been the baby on his previous flight. The woman in front of us, who’d looked like she was trying to escape & find another seat farther away, complimented him and said “I thought for sure he was going to scream the whole time.”
That’s my boy. This second flight was so much easier, too, because the middle seat in my row was empty and I was able to let him curl up and sleep there, giving my arms a break.
On the Saturday before I left, my parents invited everyone (family and a few friends) to stop by, to show off the grandson.
I don’t care if it’s strangers, friends, coworkers, family, whatever – I am so not into this passing-around-of-the-baby thing. Just because babies can’t speak up, people seem to forget that they’re little people who are deserving of their own space. Not cool. I watched everyone just pick him up and carry him around and hand him off without a thought, without ever looking to me and asking if it was ok. ONE person, a friend of my mom’s asked, and of course I said yes. I’ll pretty much always say yes if you ask, if Nugget seems to not be overwhelmed.
I stayed quiet & managed it pretty well. Honestly, I was just too tired to protest much. I feel badly for that – poor little guy is used to it being only him & I, and suddenly he’s being tossed around a group of 20 strangers. He was tired and crying occasionally and I should have stepped in.
But then it was over. I thought. Until one more cousin showed up, after everyone else had left. He came with his two daughters and his new girlfriend, who I still swear he was trying to show off for. (And said so.)
And boy, did he piss me off. So much so that I’m still fuming days later & wanting to write him an email about it. I would, if I thought it would actually get through to him.
I was just about to feed Nugget when my cousin showed up. He was holding him, saw the bottle and said, “I’ll feed him!” I should have put my foot down right there, but still feeling mildly dazed from all the people (I don’t handle extensive socializing very well at all) I just shrugged and said ok.
He continued to carry my kid around, pick him up repeatedly, even when I said to leave him alone as Nugget was crying & cranky & overwhelmed. Not once did he ask me. When I finally started to protest, he brushed me off. Then he asked his girlfriend if SHE wanted to hold him. His girlfriend said, “Uh, sure… if it’s ok.” He asked why it wouldn’t be ok and I said, “Well, I think she’s being polite and ASKING MY PERMISSION FIRST.” He laughed me off. He then declared he wanted his picture taken with Nugget – which I STILL find odd, seeing as we’re not THAT close and quite frankly – I still think he was showing off and making this all about him and didn’t give a damn about Nugget. I said no, and he waved me off again, saying he’d barely ever see him. Why I caved in,repeatedly, I don’t know. I guess, already being the black sheep of the family, I didn’t want everyone wondering what I was getting so worked up about and “There goes Nikki again.”
At one point, he scolded his daughter about his iPhone, saying that it wasn’t a toy and don’t be passing it around. I snapped back, “Yeah, just like my BABY.”
I’m still mad. I’m PISSED, quite frankly, at how he completely disregarded me, the mother, who knows her child best. I’m pissed that he didn’t think it mattered to check with me, to respect me, to defer to me. I’m pissed that it was all about him and not at all about him getting to know my child. I’m pissed at myself for caving in and not protecting Nugget as I should have. I’m pissed that he & everyone else thinks because we’re “family” or whatever, that means that they have the right to manhandle my child.
As for the family thing – I’m not even that close to everyone. I haven’t been for awhile. But suddenly my child is fair game.
Well. We’ll be seeing everyone again in October and you can be damn sure things will go differently.
When I was a baby, my mom refused to let me be passed around and held. My Dad’s brother (my uncle) actually CALLED HER UP to yell at her for it. “How will she know we love her?” he said. Fuck, I’d kick let him have it for that. This particular cousin is the son of that very same person. Go figure.
But now, I’m still angry. And I want to say something, but there’s no point. But I won’t be able to let it go, either.
In addition to that, my black sheep status is still firmly in place, it seems. Another cousin’s wife, T, is pregnant. She & another cousin (yes, there are many) are all buddy buddy – as it seems everyone else is, except me. They were talking about birth & pregnancy, as I sat there with the child I just gave birth to not that long ago… And, well – long story short, I was basically ignored or brushed off, uncomfortably, whenever I said anything. I’ve gotten married & had a baby, which validates me in some way, but not enough for me to be taken seriously, I suppose. It’s all well and good to take my kid hostage for the afternoon, but not enough to include me in the labor & birth story telling. Cause, you know, I had a HOME BIRTH and what kind of craziness is that?
I felt surprisingly hurt & bummed out about not being included. And, mark my words, I sense that T will wind up with an “emergency c-section” and I’d honestly really, really like to talk to her and try to have that avoided. But I won’t say anything because I wasn’t asked and it’s really not my business. I offered up some good suggestions to help with the swelling – nothing weird or “out there” at all, and even THAT was met with a blank look.
Do I sound hurt & bitter? I am. It surprised me quite a bit, especially when I found myself ranting & crying and being reminded of things like “boundaries” when I saw my therapist on Tuesday. (If you’re new here, of course I have a therapist. I get totally bent out of shape about being excluded and fear enforcing my boundaries because I’m afraid of that black sheep status that’s stamped on my forehead.) Ah, family. I’m reminded of why I always kept myself separated.
But even without all these issues, I still think it’s really uncool to pass a kid around without asking the mother first. ALWAYS ask the mother. It’s just good manners and it shows that you recognize her, and recognize her child as an individual and that it’s not just all about you. That’s one of the reasons I love midwives & Doulas so much – they’re incredibly respectful of, and enforce the importance of, the bond between mother & child. Everyone and what everyone else wants is secondary.