Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Open letter: To the men who laughed

Hi, I don't know you.  In fact I've never even set eyes on you before.

I was walking with my two youngest into down, down our road.  My three year old was holding my hand, chatting away and I had my toddler on my back, wrapped in a sling.

You were sitting, two of you in a van and one on a stool outside, eating your lunch and talking between yourselves.

As I walked passed you burst into hysterical laughter, turning around to catch another glance and when seeing I'd noticed, hastily turning away.

Can you imagine what was going through my mind....What were you laughing at?
My weight?
My clothes?
My looks?
My hair?
My lack of make-up?

.....hey, that's social anxiety for you....

Then I realised what it was.

You were laughing at me carrying my baby...and you know what...that doesn't touch my anxiety in the slightest.

I'm incredibly proud to baby wear.  To keep my little boy close and warm against my body.  To always have that connection with him when we're out.  To have both hands free for my older children.

I'm proud because what you don't know is after he was born I got extremely ill.  I had to learn to breathe, lift my head, hold a spoon, move my arms, sit up...even walk again.  I couldn't pick up my baby for months.  Even at 4lbs I had to have him handed to me and my arms propped up.

So for me to be able to wrap my little boy and leave the house, without even thinking about it, it a huge accomplishment for me....and something I think about every time I pick him up.

Something I'm incredibly grateful for.

So no...I don't feel upset about your narrow mindedness.  But I do feel annoyed.

You coloured a lovely occasion with my children.  It was just a little moment...an ordinary moment.  Walking down the street, chatting to my 3 year old about foxes and hot cocoa.

But when you laughed at me my blood ran cold.  The anxiety took over and I wanted to hide.  I wanted to cry.

Even when I realised why you were laughing, the adrenaline was still there.  The lump in the throat.

...and I wanted to confront you.

But I didn't.

Why didn't I?

Well, partly I didn't want to say anything in front of my boys.  I didn't want them to question why I stopped to talk to the men.

...Also...I'm kind of a coward.

What would you have done?  What would you have said to justify laughing at a complete stranger?

You wouldn't have had an answer, would you?

You are three grown men, giggling like school girls about someone travelling with a baby.


...Can't you see how ridiculous that it?

Would you have laughed at me if I'd been pushing a pushchair?

No.  Probably not.

Perhaps you should educate yourselves.  You are likely to become fathers in the future.  Or perhaps you already are fathers.  Educate yourself.  Carrying your baby in a wrap or a sling is a wonderful experience.  No, it's not uncomfortable.  Yes, my toddler loves it just as much as I do.  No they're not heavy.  No, it doesn't mean I'm a baby wearing, flaxseed eating, yoga doing, rainbow worshiping hippy (although I do eat flaxseed...my bad...).  I don't give two hoots if you carry or use a pushchair (I don't have anywhere to stow bags of shopping, so who's laughing then.)

It means I like wrapping my baby.
I like the closeness.
I like not having to struggle with a cumbersome pushchair through shop doors and around people in the street.
I like the pretty colours....like they're really pretty. (Google Oscha......go on, I dare you.)
I'm going to continue to use this method to travel with my boy until he decides he's ready.

So in the future, please smile nicely and control yourselves.  By all means, whisper like you're by the water cooler.  That way you get your little gossip and I can carry on my day oblivious to your narrow minded bull shit.

If you ignore me, then I'll ignore the fact that you can't park for toffee....just saying...

Best wishes, and all that Jazz

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