Some women are naturally suited for motherhood, and I always fancied myself as being one of them. That is, until I had a child.
Breastfeeding was hard as hell, I couldn’t do a tight wrap to save my life, I couldn’t get my child to sleep longer than one hour stretches as a time—and on top of all of that, I had the general public to contend with. Why didn’t anyone tell me that the previously normal people were going to totally freak me out after I had a child?
It is virtually impossible for people to keep their hands to themselves when they see a newborn. As a first-time mum, I constantly wished someone had warned me about this. So I’m warning you: be prepared. People have no sense of personal space when it comes to touching an infant. If you don’t believe me, conduct your own test: take your infant to a party and see how long it is before someone takes your baby’s adorable little hand and puts it in their mouth.
Admittedly, I may just be sensitive to this whole thing because I had my first child in the petri dish that is the city. My son was born in the midst of one of the worst summers we had in years. We were dripping with humidity and burning from the sun for weeks. As a new mum I was way too paranoid to bring him out in such weather strapped to my chest. I was certain he would be burned to a crisp in moments. Also, there was no way I was getting near the local bus with a baby that weighed less than 5 kilos and had a barely developed immune system. These two facts alone basically guaranteed that my son spent his first few months on this planet a shut-in. Sorry, honey.
We finally emerged in time for some Christmas festivities. Who doesn’t love a good party? A germaphobe new mum – that’s who. Social functions are the worst when you have an infant. Everyone wants to touch, kiss and basically slather his or her germs all over your baby. Seriously. What is it with people who a) put their fingers in a baby’s mouth or b) put the entire hand of a newborn into their mouth? How can this remotely strike someone as an acceptable thing to do?! Don’t get me wrong; I do it all the time to my own baby. But never, ever have I done this to a child that wasn’t spawned by a best friend or a member of my family.
Hi cutie! Yes, you are the cutest little thing I’ve ever seen! Oh, are you teething? I think he’s teething! Here, take my finger and chew on it. I just got off the train. The homeless guy that was sleeping against the handrail was kind enough to move so I could hold on. Oh yes, he did!
Yup. Now you have to be the woman that asks someone take his or her finger out of your kid’s mouth. That’s always awkward.
Um, that is so sweet of you to offer your filthy finger as a teether, but do you mind removing it from my child’s mouth?
If you’re trying to think of a way to say something like this without sounding like a total dick —don’t. It’s impossible. Just embrace your new, paranoid, germaphobe self and say what needs to be said. Embrace the wounded looks and offended stares and just go with it. Your a mum now and mums do what has to be done. Enjoy the party.