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Updated on June 3, 2016
Bump to Buggy & The Decline of Courtesy
Oh pregnancy! Isn’t is just blissful? Yeah. Something’s been on my mind lately and it’s starting to bug me. I remember what it was like to be pregnant. I remember what would happen when I’d head out the door and people would notice me. There’s nothing quite like the presence of a pregnant mother to be that draws attention. Now I was fortunate enough not to have strangers touch me during my pregnancies (except that one time my dentist rubbed my 36 week pregnant belly while I was
held hostage sitting in her dentist chair), but nevertheless I attracted a little more than just looks. People did things for me. Random strangers did things for me. Now I don’t subscribe to the opinion that a pregnant woman is weak or incapacitated in some way, but a little common courtesy never hurt anyone. Am I right? From holding a door, picking up something I’d dropped, and offering me a seat, these little courtesies did not go unnoticed by me in all my pregnant glory. Then I had a baby, and a funny thing happened. I became invisible.
I can’t possibly be the only person this has happened to. Surely not. Sporting a big bump, I found myself practically needing to beat off kindly strangers with a stick. Well, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but the kindness of strangers was everywhere. Elderly women at the grocery store always struck up a conversation in front of the seasonal fruit display. Men and women of all ages stopped and held doors for me. Some people even insisted I go ahead of them in line at Starbucks (and we all know how sacred a spot in a long Starbucks line was pre-mobile app ordering). If I dropped something people would get up and grab it before I could maneuver myself into a squatting position to start feeling around on the floor for whatever it was I dropped but could no longer see for the giant vision blocker that my belly had become. It seemed impossible to have an outing without someone noticing my presence and offering or attempting to help in some way. It was really just common courtesy, but it was nice to see that courtesy was alive and well.
So when The Heir was born, imagine my surprise when I became invisible. Now I know people could still see me. I was hard to miss with my bright green stroller and super adorable baby (if I do say so myself), but no one noticed me. On most days I appreciated the invisibility that having a baby had afforded me. After all, I wasn’t really spending a whole lot of time on my own appearance in those early days. Yet something was missing. Courtesy. It was GONE. Somehow the very reason I had become the subject of so much attention previously was exactly what resulted in my disappearance from view. The baby was no longer conveniently in my tummy. The baby was no longer quiet and unseen. I was taking up more physical space than was allotted to me thanks to my stroller and diaper bag, and that made me slip out of sight.
But you know what? I know I was seen. I could see it on the faces of strangers. I could see them turn away with purpose. I could see them roll their eyes when I pushed my stroller towards the entrance of a cafe or *gasp* a restaurant. I could see the darting eyes when my baby dared to let out a sound (whether a happy or not so happy sound seemed to make no difference). The elderly women in the fruit section of the grocery store were still there. They still saw me, and they still struck up conversations with me. Everyone else was gone. No one was holding doors for me anymore, no one was picking up something that my baby had tossed from the stroller, and no one was offering me somewhere to sit down. In fact, on one occasion I was struggling to move the stroller and myself through a tiny door that opened out towards us, and then I had to work us through a second tiny door after a minuscule vestibule while the first door closed firmly on my rear end. All that happened while a stranger stood just inside watching me and waiting for me to finish my awkward entrance before leaving the establishment themselves. I mean, really? That sort of thing has happened over and over again.
What happens to common courtesy once the baby is born? Why is it that a pregnant woman draws the most kindness from others while a mother with her child is just in the way? Look, I know babies can be noisy and babies can be messy. I get that. I do my best to soothe my child when he’s fussy, and I always pick up whatever mess is left on the floor (yes, I get down on the floor in restaurants/cafes and pick up as many muffin crumbs and cheerios as I can see or reach before I leave). But for crying out loud, I need to get out of the house sometimes too. I deserve to be out in public just as much as everyone else that isn’t towing a child around. My children are not with me so that I can inconvenience everyone else. They aren’t with me so I can ruin someone’s quiet coffee break. They deserve to be out in public just as much as anyone else. There’s no need to look away, and certainly no need to glare at us. I don’t need anyone to help me, I really don’t, but if you see someone struggling with a door would it be so hard to lend a hand?
What has been your experience with the courtesy of strangers during and after pregnancy?
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14 Comments on “Bump to Buggy & The Decline of Courtesy”
I so agree, I’ve been there too. It can be hard to be invisible! I just try to surround myself with people who make me not feel invisible. 😉
Omg yes!!! When I was preggo I swear the world waited on me. The thing was I was more than capable of doing these things myself. I had a rather easy pregnancy. Once my daughter was born though it was back to doing everything on my own & that was actually the time I would of loved for that door to be held or being asked for help etc…. People have it backwards lol…
I had the same thing happen when I first had my son and was trying to fit the stroller through the door at the doctors office. A lady grabbed the door and I thought she was going to help but she walked right past me and let the door almost slam on the stroller. It really stuck with me how, when a woman needs the most help, common courtesy seems to disappear.
On the other hand a dad taking a toddler out gets more offers of help than he can handle. My husband comes home with stories of people helping him pick things up or entertaining our son when he is fussy at the store.
Omgosh this is so so true!! It made me crazy when I was pregnant because I wasn’t “debilitated” and could very well function on my own. It was after when I was trying to figure out how to lug everything and soothe my new baby that I would’ve loved the courteousy!!
When I was preggo, my female coworkers were so kind to me. I was asked to do even more lifting in my third trimester by male (resulting in constant pain, an injury and a wcb claim) supervisors… Which made life really hard.
I was astounded at the lack of kindness from strangers while I was pregnant-people muttering at me to hurry at Costco, men not offering me a seat close to my child while doing the gestational diabetes test and people watching me struggling at the store and shaking their heads instead of offering to help. However since having baby via emergency c-section snd having to use a scooter cart, I had people telling me off for using it… I responded that I had just had major surgery and would never choose to use a scooter cart and appreciated their patience.
Here’s hoping that when I’m able to drive again and get out that people will be better. I always tried to open doors for pregnant women, moms with little ones and show kindness to them even if it was small. I always commented to moms with preschoolers that were having a moment that I thought they were doing a great job. Honestly, my experiences have cemented my commitment to showing kindness to strangers and that I don’t know their story so just assume the best.
I just had my third baby and I find people are still helpful. Doors are often held for me with a stroller. Just the other day at a restaurant gentleman at a table across feom us picked up a toy my toddler had dropped/thrown.
Maybe they just feel sorry for me since I “have my hands full” with 3! 😉
I can totally relate to this! However with my second pregnancy it was like no one even. are when I was pregnant. I never got offered a seat on the crowded bus I had to take every morning (sometimes I had to get off and wait for another bus as it was too tight and ppl would bump my belly) it was terrible!! I also remember a time on the bus when an elderly lady started a full on fight with a mother and her newborn baby about how she thought she was so privileged because she has a *expletive* kI’d (yup she swore at her) thankfully a nice gentlemen stepped in and made sure the mother and child were ok and stayed with her until the elderly lady got of…i was shocked! Normally I would have stepped in but again I was squished to the back unable to move.
Not only lack of courtesy, but flat-out rudeness at times! Unsolicited parenting advice (I think my favourite was “you’re spoiling her!” when I wore my daughter in a wrap), muttered comments about babies on airplanes, bad attitudes around breastfeeding and the like just send me through the roof. When mine were tiny I just tried to let the comments go, but now if I overhear something like that being said to another mom toting little ones when I’m out I say something. People shouldn’t get away with that s*** when they ought to be old enough to know better.
Yes!!! I had the same experience while pregnant with my first and the same after he arrived. When I became pregnant with my second the courtesy from strangers wasn’t there but it was replaced with lots of unsolicited advice and comments about how I must have accidentally gotten pregnant because two that close in age was a terrible idea. It got to the point that I only went out when I had to. Now that I have two kids in toe I definitely get ugly looks and remarks from strangers. I go out of my way to be kind to other moms I see out in public because I assume they are receiving the same treatment too.
I can just remember being showered with polite gestures when I was pregnant, but with three kids in tow, it was if I had disappeared! Thanks for sharing!
This. Exactly this. Once I had someone SO determined to hold the door for my vastly pregnant belly that they jostled past me in order to get to it first (and almost knocked me over in the process ). Fast forward to last week. I’m loading my groceries onto the little conveyor belt at checkout when my 1yo daughter starts fussing from the cart seat, so I pick her up to avoid a full blown meltdown and continue unloading the cart with one hand. The woman behind me (a professional looking 40-something) starts rolling her eyes, tapping her foot, and huffing under her breath. Then when I’m done being rung up the cashier turns to help the bagger finish up, causing Ms. Snooty Face to wonder if “people” know how overpopulated the planet is. Luckily I’ve never been hesitant to let someone know when they’re being an idiot, so I told her that since she’s so concerned with overcrowding it’s a good thing she’d decided not to inflict her DNA on the next generation. (Which made the cashier choke back a snicker, so I’ll definitely be searching out her line for future visits.)
Move to Canada! The majority of us still have courtesy and will gladly hold the door open for you – baby or no baby! 🙂