On Parenting in Public
Dublin is a healthy, happy baby and yet I still need validation that I’m doing a good job. When I’m with Dublin alone, or with Stephen, I have no insecurities. It’s the parenting in public that seems to unnerve me the most, when suddenly everyone and their dog has an opinion of how I’m doing.
I feel most uncomfortable being Dublin’s mom when I’m with a large group of people, or anyone I don’t know well observing me. The day we came home from the hospital, we stopped at a family barbecue and I remember sitting with Dublin on my lap and a woman I’d never met staring at me. (Later, I found out she disapproved of my having Dublin out so soon after his birth.) When Dublin was four weeks old, Steve and I stopped at a Taco Bell out of convenience. I prepared Dublin a bottle from the ready-to-feed formula he was on at the time and as I fed him and Steve ordered, there was a woman in her mid-forties glaring in my direction. I tried to pretend I didn’t notice, but I could guess she was unimpressed with my bringing Dublin to a fast food restaurant. After we finished eating and headed to our car, she asked me how old he was. When I told her, she just raised her eyebrow at me and turned away.
I guess I should shrug it off, but, to put so ineloquently, it’s hard. I love my son more than anything in this world, I would never dream of putting him in any kind of harm. I feel like I parent Dublin with my actions showing how much I cherish him. So when someone, albeit a stranger, questions my judgment, my care for my son…well, it’s hard to take.
Thankfully, I have Stephen there with me all the time, reassuring me that I’m taking better care of Dublin than any stranger could, that I love him more than just anyone could. Stephen constantly tells me to relax, to not worry so much. This month is the first time we’ve allowed Dublin to sleep with any blanket in his crib (he hated being swaddled, so we just had him in fleece pajamas), because I was terrified of him covering his head and suffocating. I think I take appropriate precaution in bringing Dublin anywhere (hellllllo, hand sanitizer!) and I feel it’s important for him to be out, enjoying fresh air and building up his immune system. But then again, I’ve done a lot of things that have caused conflict with some other moms (formula-feeding, circumcision, taking antibiotics for my kidney/blood infection during pregnancy). I’m not going to please everyone.
Being a parent is hands down the most rewarding experience of my life. Coincidentally (and consequently), it is easily the most difficult experience. If there is anything I’ve learned in the last two months, it’s to never take having a partner for granted. I honestly don’t know how single moms do it without having that kind of support on their side. I seek validation, mostly because I want to make sure I’m doing the best I can for Dublin because he is absolutely the best thing to happen to me.