Shut That Baby Up?

Mommy thoughts: “It’s pathological to restrict the natural human characteristics of a child” (ex. play, having friends, crying, etc.)

The Break: We all hate being in small spaces with strangers & a screaming baby is added to that equation, right? … Wrong! Moments like this actually intrigue me because I love watching and analyzing how the parent(s) respond. How they’re able to calm the baby, or not, with reaction.

Already annoyed sitting at the gate, a baby waiting at the same gate begins screaming. After missing a flight earlier in the day I thought, “wow…and now this.” Almost instantly catching myself and realizing that I was putting my negative feelings off on a child doing nothing, but being a child. The feeling of annoyance came from thinking I’ll have to sit through a flight with an unhappy baby, meaning there would be no peace or quiet. To my ignorant surprise, after the first 10 minutes of flight, I never heard baby again.

After boarding and getting comfortable in my seat, the baby started screaming & I just so happened to be in the row directly in front of them. It was almost like I felt the energy of others on the plane, because I could tell there were many uneasy adults thinking the same thing I had thought before hand. Not only was it felt by me, but I believe the mommy of baby was also able to feel it. Her rocking, shaking, and patting became more aggressive followed by grunts and “What do you need?!” Questions to a baby small enough not to comprehend anything more complex than “hi” & “bye.” I continued to listen as she became more frustrated and I could tell that her worry came directly from how her child made others feel versus what it was that her child needed. She continued saying things like “oh my god” as if a baby being annoyed on public transportation, surrounded by 100s of strangers, is abnormal.

I mean really, think about it, when we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations we are more than likely to voice this. When you’re upset, someone aggressively trying to calm or soothe you isn’t likely to work. Instead you’re trying to figure out how they could be genuinely concerned if they’re mad while “helping” you. An infant’s strongest way of communication aside from nonverbal, is crying. So responding to it with annoyance and anger, believe it or not, is already teaching them that their needs are too much to be met. Thinking of this, I started to ask the universe that both her and baby were covered in calmness. At this point not because I didn’t want to hear a crying baby, but moreso because I hated to witness her frustration rubbing off on baby and her not realizing that she was only making the crying worst. I asked the universe to release them from the cycle of baby being in need, mommy not understanding need, and making baby even more upset by transferring her energy. I wouldn’t call it magic, but as stated, I never heard the baby again after the initial 10 minutes of flight.

Now in no way is this to fault mommy or judge her for how she responded. I share this story in hopes that it will serve as a reminder to all mommies that as frustrating as this journey may get for us, and it will, we have to remember that when we freak out, children freak out. It’s also to remind us that regardless of our cultural belief that kids “know what they’re doing” or wait for the right time to “show out,” they are only practicing their natural ways of communication. Believe it or not, it starts this early! When your child begins having an episode in public, it’s important that you ignore other energies in the room, especially being that they’re unknown to you. Regardless of age, remember that your response is to meet the child’s need, not ensure that everyone else in the room is comfortable and at ease.

Here are a few ways to remind yourself in those moments that we lose sight of the goal:

  • Breathe Take it back to 3 deep breaths in & out. Be sure to count “1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi” while holding breath & when blowing out push any energies that don’t belong to you, out. It may seem like a silly thing to do, but I promise this simple technique gets me through daily struggles as a mommy!
  • Listen I’m sure you’ve heard it time and time, do not listen to respond. Listen to understand. This rule is no different when it comes to our children. In fact, it’s most important when it comes to our children.
  • Stay Present Energy not only transfers, but it happens almost instantly as it relates to our child(ren). Keep this in mind when addressing their needs because it’s felt when you’re not genuinely interested in what it is.

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Judge Me Not

As I have thought about things to write on, I have tried to process how to share my experience as a mother during such a stressful time. I’ve now had my first seizure at 25 years old. The frustrations of being in the house with a toddler for five months, is something I haven’t been able to put into words. Losing my ability to drive during that same period has carried me to the edge. And I’ve also thought to write about all the other things that I know we’re going through at this time.

While I realize this has been one of the most trying years for any parent, I decided that I don’t want to write on any of the topics initially thought about. After re-reading my first written book, there was something that stuck with me. Something about one aspect stayed on my mind for days after reading it again. I processed it differently and realized how it has affected me as an individual. I then thought it’d be a good idea to share with other parents who may consciously or unconsciously impose the same things upon their children and children’s friends. As hard as it may be to believe, I grew up as the kid that parents didn’t want their kids hanging around. I had multiple friends with parents and caregivers who either directly or indirectly gave clues that they didn’t think I was a good influence.

I have honestly felt over time that I did not care about this aspect of my life anymore. However, something about reading through this experience took me back to the way I felt as that girl. Knowing that I have always carried a good heart for those around me, it was painful to be in this space again. I wanted to use this feeling to share with parents how detrimental it is to stray away from judging your children’s friends, ESPECIALLY while they’re still children. On the outside I played a very tough role as a child, but knowing how people’s parents felt about me carried over into my adulthood. Being older, I am able to connect so many of my experiences to the way my friend’s parents viewed me. I am also able to see how it’s effected the way I cope with judgement in general.

I understand that as a parent, your natural instinct is to protect your child from anything that may look like harm. I have found myself looking at other toddlers and being concerned about how their behaviors will affect Aiden, so I get it. I have also been able to step back and realize what I am doing because it is something I actively work towards growing away from. Taken from my own experience I should know that, 9/10 the children that appear to be “bad” at face value are the ones that parents should be least worried about. If you have followed me for any time then you know that I experienced many things that made me look like a “bad kid” at face value. In the same breath I can offer that my friends whose parents worried the most, are the ones that wish I could’ve served as a bigger influence.

I’d like to challenge parents until next time! I’d like to challenge you to being intentional about how you’re viewing other children around yours. Be intentional about not judging them and thinking that they will “ruin” your child. Put that energy instead into how you and your child/family can influence that child because, as cliche as it may be, you truly never know what that child may be experiencing outside of what you see.