When my son was about a month old, I took him to the supermarket with me because for once I thought, ‘No, I won’t leave him at home, slaving away cleaning the house for me, I’ll let him see daylight.’ He was on the shopping trolley (baby trolleys have baby shaped supports they can lay on) wrapped in a blanket, staring at everything until he wore himself out.
This was at a point where it didn’t register that he could simply just fall asleep (does it ever?) and nothing I did would calm him down. I tried white noise, the controversial dummy/pacifier, swaddling him and even taking him off the trolley and rocking him. It was either, abandon a full week’s worth of food shopping and take him home or approach the till and hope for the best. I went with the latter.
You’d think that instead of packing my shopping putting it in my trolley, I was cutting my son’s skin off with a rusty blade and pouring acid down his throat. The amount he wailed sent a bloodcurdling shiver down my spine and triggered looks from many people in the supermarket. The cashier however, was chatting away about how beautiful my son is and talking about her two children and how she wished they were as small as him. When I went to pay, he let out an almighty scream that I swear should have made every single window shatter, my purse slipped from my hands and my cards and money went everywhere. The more I looked around, the more people I noticed looking as though they felt sorry for me and I must have apologized to every single person on my way out. As soon as I started the engine of my car, my baby fell into a blissfully deep sleep and I burst into tears. (I actually shouted ‘F**KER’ really fucking loud between sobs.)
When I got home it hit me, the cashier. She surely could hear my child going into full scale meltdown mode, but yet she didn’t bat an eyelid. She said nothing, in fact she said a lot about her children but made no negative remarks about mine. She didn’t seem bothered that it took me what seemed like a decade to pack my shopping and a century to pick up the contents of my purse and pay. The only person that were involved in our exchange was the two of us but yet I was more concerned about everyone else than her.
Thinking about it from that moment on, my mindset changed. He’s a baby. There are times when he’ll cry. There are times when he’ll fuss. He can’t communicate any other way. I don’t apologize when I speak, laugh or cry so why should I have to apologize for him? That’s when I decided that I wouldn’t. I would no longer apologize for my child.
My husband had a habit of standing off the side when our son was in his pram so as not to be ‘in the way’ and if I’m pushing him and I’m passing someone I’ll apologize for having a pram. Good god, I might as well not leave the bloody house with him. Clearly his very being is an inconvenience to just about everyone.
To keep apologising would surely mean that he was doing something wrong when he is in fact just learning the world. This habit of, ‘Oh I’m sorry my child is crying, fussing, cooing, breathing, living’ really needs to stop.