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Lessons in Parenting: Joining the Club
Published on October 24, 2011 by guest author: J LeBlanc
I must confess: I enjoyed being pregnant. Granted, there were certain inconveniences: back pain, difficulty sleeping, frequent trips to the ladies’ room, but it gave me a sense of empowerment. Suddenly people of all ages were more deferential around me: holding open doors, offering to help me carry things.
I even found it amusing to watch the internal waffling in their faces when they weren’t sure if they should congratulate me, followed by relief when I smiled back and told them how far along I was. It baffled me that virtual strangers seemed genuinely happy for me; one woman grinned and gave me an involuntary squeeze on the arm, as though she could not contain herself. The problem was, I didn’t expect all this goodwill to last after the baby was born.
My husband says that everybody loves a pregnant lady. I would say that the corollary to this is that everybody does NOT love a baby, or small children—especially if they are crying. A recent article on Shine details a rash of new and potential bans on children, citing a population filled with ever-more childless adults as the impetus. It seems that there is a growing population that would prefer for children to be neither seen nor heard, whether in the first class cabin or at a Harry Potter screening.
What has surprised me since the birth of my son is that I have encountered so few of these people. There have been a few mutterings and sighs in our direction as carried him into restaurants or on airplanes, but most people have been indulgent. In the grocery store a man peered into my son’s infant carrier as I was pulling something off the shelf. I was startled, wondering if the baby had done something to draw his attention, but the man met my gaze and smiled, saying “Ah, it takes me back!” One grandmother opted to sit next to my husband and I on an airplane because we had a baby with us. She kept calling him a “stinker” and asked if she could hold him.
Even would-be grouches have expressed admiration. We were re-routed on that same airplane trip and during the second of three connecting flights, we heard a man behind us in the same situation telling another passenger about the ordeal. We turned around to commiserate and he gave us an apologetic smile. “Actually, I wasn’t thrilled to see you sitting right in front of me with a baby. But he didn’t cry or scream at all.” He sounded impressed. We were stopped at the gate, waiting for the doors to be opened and half the people around us were sitting, the other half standing, listening in on the conversation. In what felt like a Disney-movie moment, the passengers around nodded or murmured their assent: our son had behaved surprisingly well.
What I realized is that, particularly in my community, lots of people have kids. Their children may be grown up, but parents are suckers for nostalgia, even when it comes to things like fussy babies. Still, I am glad that my son waited until we were in the car leaving the airport to have his post-13-hour-travel-day meltdown. Though if his meltdown had come a bit earlier that would have been understandable; I was pretty cranky at the end of that day, too.
J LeBlanc is a former high school teacher who resides in Lebanon, N.H. She is currently taking a break from teaching to stay home with her 8-month-old son.

Previous Posts By This Author: "Lessons in Parenting: Never Say Never" 
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