The Baby Ambassador

Babies melt hearts. This is evident the first time you bring your squishy baby out in public and strangers near and across the street exclaim “look at the tiny baby!” and gape in unabashed awe. You join these throngs of adorers in the presence of other tiny babies once you’ve held your own, even if you’d never considered yourself “a baby person.”

On the bus, you catch gruff old men contorting their faces into wide grins to earn your baby’s smile. Aloof teenagers look up from their phones to say “aww, look at her little toes!”

Being a mom has provided surprises at every turn. First, I couldn’t believe how dramatically labor redefined ten on my pain scale. How taking care of a baby in those first days can feel simultaneously natural and impossible. That this little child can be totally unaware of her world one month and smiling at you the next.

One of the biggest surprises of being a mom is how the presence of a child turns strangers into welcoming friends. (I think dogs also do this but I try to limit comparisons between children and dogs.)

As you carry your baby down the street, previously stoic strangers grin at you. People get up for you and your stroller on the bus, hold doors open for you and invite you to go first. Your yoga teacher, who previously ignored you as you left class, now asks you brightly about your daughter and coos at the pictures you willingly share.

How can this little person transform these everyday encounters? What other cues do I offer that change how I’m perceived in the world, and how much does that perception of me affect the response that I elicit from others? And conversely, what (likely erroneous) assumptions do I make that determine my treatment of others?

Then: what can we assume about everyone else that will move us to consistently offer kindness and help?

What’s different for you now that you’re navigating the world as a mom?

Andrea Lee is a mom who’s winging it, just like everyone else. 

Tags: generosity, public, strangers, good samaritan, polite, politeness the Y, YMCA, together

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