The other day I was sitting around a table with a group of women and Finny was having an especially hard time staying calm. When I fed him, he squirmed, yelped, latched, unlatched, latched, and unlatched. When he finally finished eating, he didn’t get his usual full-tummy smile or glazed over look, but continued to wriggle in his discomfort. In other situations I might have felt slightly embarrassed by creating a distraction, but all of these women were also mothers and didn’t seem to be phased by Finn’s whimpers. I rocked him and kept him moving but tried to focus my attention on the conversation around me. (I will continue to be a conversational adult! I will interact with other people and look them in the eye!) After a while (and much to my surprise) a woman sitting close by asked me if I’d like her to try to calm him down. I didn’t know what the right answer was. If I said no, was I being rude to let Finn continue to distract from the conversation? If I said yes, was I admitting that I was in over my head and didn’t know how to care for my baby? But I wanted to say yes and I didn’t know how to say no. And so into her arms he went. Finn calmed down fairly quickly, meanwhile I tried to put off relaxed, totally engaged vibes, when instead I was running a million miles an hour in my head and looking at him out of the corner of my eye: How bad does it make me look that I don’t want to “be there” for my baby right now? How incompetent am I that she, this stranger to my baby, was able to calm him so quickly? At what point am I taking advantage of this help and should offer to take him back? Does anyone else think this hard about everything?
I wish I had a tidy little story I could conclude my thoughts with that would prove what great strides I’ve made in swallowing my pride. There is none, other than this post in which I’m finally admitting where I’m at. Thankfully, I am surrounded by people, more experienced people, that don’t need to wait for me to admit when I need help because they already know that I do. They have shown me grace and encouragement that carries me through days and days. Every stranger that gives me a smile and “good job!” while carrying my crying baby in one arm and trying to steer the grocery cart with the other, while trying to figure out how to untangle the car seat from the base, while wiping the spit up from my shirt while simultaneously trying to eat a meal at a restaurant, these people make me feel more sane and gracious with myself.