Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stick with judging


Sitting in between a mum reading a book called 'Jane learns about colds and other viral infections' to her one year old and a nice community midwife I waited at the regional vaccination drop in centre for my daughter to have her six month shots. I enjoyed seeing the other parents, I also found the lack of interaction a little sad.

A young mum sat on a chair juggling her two sons, both of whom seemed intent on causing a ruckus. Climbing on things, throwing things, pulling pamphlets off the stand, running around madly. The mum tried, unsuccessfully, to settle them, while everyone else avoided eye contact. She needed help but she may not ask and we may not offer. Those are the rules.

A few minutes later a new mum arrived with her eight week old daughter. We chatted. She was clearly an educated woman, and she was clearly frazzled. Eight weeks without sleep had left her strung out. I did not want to be the one to tell her that it might get harder before it gets easier. I did want to give her my phone number and offer to come around and help, but I knew that being that presumptuous would seem odd.

I saw an older couple with a four month old boy. He was crying a little for a feed while she firmly told him to stop it. I do not know if she believed a four month old can be trained or if she was just embarrassed. She laid him across her lap and vigorously patted his back. The husband became unsure of what all the other people would think and chastised her for 'bashing' him too hard. I cannot vouch for the others in the room but all I was thinking was how much I would enjoy a massage like that and wondering if I had been way too gentle when trying that technique with our bubby.

I loved the very young couple that came in pushing a big pram,carrying a sports bag and a massive back pack. There was a moment when she asked him, with an amused shake of the head, why they needed so much stuff. They both looked a bit embarrassed. I wanted to laugh with them, not at them, and tell them I did the same thing only a few months ago.

I saw a Muslim woman whom I remembered seeing at our two month appointment. We never spoke though we did smile. I wanted to ask her about breastfeeding in her culture.

I had been chatting to the mum of an eighteen month old boy. We had commented on the cuteness of our respective children and chatted about the types of things that mums chat about. When she sat her son on a chair between us so he could read a book without thinking I moved closer so that my own daughter could watch the boy and his book. When I did you could feel the uncertainty of the mother, so much so that I felt the need to apologise. I broke the rules by entering her personal space.

I really enjoyed watching the people come and go today. I did find it surprising how little interaction there was between us all. We were all mums yet there was some unspoken social rules that prevented us from interacting. A mum needed help managing her boys, but the rest of us could only sit back and judge her. Why are we not interacting with each other? Are we that different?

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