So Many Stares: More Tales From The Judgement Zone

So-many-staresIs it just me? Does this happen to other mothers who choose to wear their babies? I get so many stares when I wear Gibson in my JJ Cole Agility Carrier out in public.

I don’t mean the nice smiles from ladies (probably mothers and grandmothers) who see me rocking the carrier with two free hands while Gibs peacefully watches the action in the grocery store. They coo at my boy and ask how old he is. They always remark on how calm he seems- a direct result from wearing him. Pleasant experiences all around.

judgement

No, I’m talking about women who seem shocked to see a baby in a carrier. Like it’s not natural or something. Their eyes widen as their mouths twist into an ugly, confused sneer. At this point, they look up into my face with disbelief written all over their features. I always send back what I think of as The Mom Stare. Which I hope comes off as a cool, aloof “do we have a problem here?” look.

You Better Check Yourself

Once they meet my eyes, they either look away quickly or rearrange their face into something more pleasant. As they should!

What’s the difference between carrying Gibs on my hip and wearing him? If I carry him that way, I lose the use of one arm. With a carrier, I’ve got my two hands free to grab baby oatmeal off the tallest shelf or actually read the list of ingredients on a package.

Sometimes I start the grocery shopping trip with Gibs in his stroller, but end it with him in his carrier. So now I’m pushing the stroller while wearing him. Maybe that’s where the confusion lies? But seriously, if you’ve had a baby you know that sometimes kids just want to be held. Occasionally, strollers just won’t do for an entire trip. And I usually only use the stroller if I have The Man with me. If it’s just me, I choose the carrier every time.

My two most recent experiences with this happened at BJ’s Wholesale Club and Home Depot. At BJ’s I had just returned from the restroom and was pushing the stroller while wearing Gibs. After his diaper change, he wasn’t going back into that stroller to save his little life. That’s fine, carrier to the rescue. And peace reigned for all except the woman who was just finishing up her shopping. For some reason, seeing Gibs strapped to my chest gave her pause. And a look of what I can only describe as disgust and bewilderment came over her face. When we made eye contact, she looked away quickly.

WHY???

And yesterday, I went to Home Depot to buy two gallons of paint for what will eventually be Gibs’ room. Well pushing a stroller through home depot while wrangling two gallons of paint seemed silly to me. So I took a moment to get Gibs situated in the carrier while still in the parking lot. A woman pulled up on the other side of my car, got out and did a double take when she saw me using the reflection in the car window to make sure Gibs was properly supported. I watched her watching me before she realized I could see her. As soon as our eyes met, her sneer turned to a smile, and she walked quickly past.

You know, maybe I’m just being too sensitive. Maybe these two women had resting bitch face (a true condition!) Maybe I just have a lack of faith in my abilities and so when I see these questioning glances from strangers, I take it to heart. To be fair, I’ve been burned before by strangers who take it upon themselves to approach me in the The Judgement Zone. Maybe they meant nothing by those looks.

I don’t care what your opinion is on wearing babies. Can we all agree to just be pleasant to each other? Give me the benefit of the doubt. I’ve researched. I’ve practiced. I feel comfortable strapping my kid to my chest. End of story.

And if you have had a baby, you well remember what it’s like to be sleep deprived, hair un-brushed and uncertain when you last brushed your teeth. So give me a smile when you see me. Or just don’t look at me at all. I’d almost prefer that so I don’t ask myself if I have smeared avocado on my face from the last solid food foray. Silence and avoiding direct eye contact is golden.

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3 thoughts on “So Many Stares: More Tales From The Judgement Zone

  1. (This is Kathryn by the way, my new identity here). Is that a thing, like, people not wanting people to wear babies? I mean, I know it’s possible. I just keep thinking, maybe the women were staring because, it’s cool and they’ve never seen that, or they wanted a better look at your baby. Some people really aren’t aware of the expressions they make when thinking about things. Inquisitive can be interpreted as disgust. I have a bitchy walking face (I’ve been told, hahah).
    I used to wear my baby a lot. I loved wearing her at the park when exercising. She would bounce around and I had her facing out and people loved it!!! They could look right at her (everyone likes to look at a baby) and she would kick her feet. I had grown men waving as they ran by. It was awesome. Wearing a baby definitely draws more attention!
    I think some people may not be aware of all the options people have for baby wearing and I really believe most people think it’s awesome. The only thing I can see some super conservative people feeling is like, breastfeeding while baby wearing because you know, people freak out about that kind of thing (don’t get me started).
    Maybe you can start thinking everyone is jealous of you 🙂 or hey have indigestion! heeheh

  2. I think you are on the right track by simply trusting that you’ve done your homework and you know this is the right thing. You have a baby, people are going to look. If it bothers you next time when a person is staring at you smile say hello engage them and let them see you as a human being. Once Gibs starts facing out, he’ll do the PR for you. And gird up thy loins young mother, the outloud super offensive “advice” is coming down that track. That simple statement “it takes a village to raise a child” takes on a whole new more sinister meaning. Babies are like facebook, somehow complete strangers feel like it is ok to stick their two cents in.

  3. I thought I posted a comment earlier but it’s not there now. I don’t understand. What is the controversy about baby-wearing? I see people do it all the time. I thought it was a pretty standard practice.

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