What kind of mother would let her baby look so dirty?
What kind of mother would put her tiny baby in child care and go off to work?
What kind of mother would feed her baby with frozen food instead of making it fresh?
… and so on. You could substitute grandma for mother here .
A mother doing her best, I daresay, at that moment.
A person who isn’t actively involved with the child knows best how it should be handled and raised in the long term. The person actually trying to cope with a cranky baby and a hundred other things on her mind, is just trying to get past this moment. With most other Indians, I ve been there, mentally rasing strictures on what this mother shouldnt be or should be doing smug in my non-kid state .Till now, when Im involved once more in raising a baby And Im made aware of the fact that sole child caretakers are among the most frustrated beings on earth.
We live in an unit with 7 apartments and in 6 of them, there is a young baby. No, its not as bad as you think; the walls are fairly soundproof here. Each one finds a coping strategy as best as she can. The chinese girl above lets it all out by screaming at someone, loudly. The Mid -east girl goes to work, well dressed and sweetly smiling leaving her younger sister to cope. She does, with a variety of young men to keep her company. The Gujarati girl has gone back to mother’s at home, in India. They dont have people to help them cope and they dont have disapproving eyes and looks either.
On trains and in malls, when Advaith tends to scream his head off, which he is quite wont to do when put in the stroller, actively resisting being made a passive observer to the world , most people ignore this little drama politely or try and help, clucking at him. People dont proffer advice but do help if they think you need it like lifting the pram on to trains or off or up and down stairs.
Having a baby around makes people perceive you as benign and a perfect stranger will smile at you. Universally . It puzzles me because Im the same person with or without a baby, but the presence of a baby makes me seem harmless and people do tend to smile when there is a well dressed sweet looking baby around. Its mostly women and older people who do it;young people are in a world of their own.
When I first came here, I was complaining that people here didnt smile. But now I realise they do,. Eyecontact usually elicits a smile or an acknowedgement. In India you could be asking for trouble if you smile at strangers and so we tend to look grim. But here, people do smile cheerily or say good morning or just acknowledge your presence which makes one feel good.
And I realise the change is from within. I was closed up, wary of new people when I came. Now I smile first or say hi and people do respond. So much of our internal attitude colors our world.