To me, those were the words that the crying baby at the table next to us was probably trying to tell his mum.
About a month ago, hubby and I were out on a date night after work. Perhaps the term ‘shopping spree’ would be a better way to define our night out, as we braved the crowd and queue at the moving out sale at Mothercare @ Centrepoint. We needed to buy a new set of pyjamas for Crystabel, as she’s outgrown the ones that she was currently wearing. But more on that later…
Anyway, after shopping and waiting for about 1 hour to pay for our loot, we decided to go for a quick dinner at McDonald’s – so that we could rush back to put Crystabel to sleep. Dinner was pretty standard, and we used this alone time to chat a little about things that took place during the day. As we were finishing our meal, our attention shifted to the next table…
We saw a mum (she was probably a little older than I am) with her daughter (who looked like she was about 5) and baby boy in a stroller. If I were to take a wild guess, I’d say her baby was around 7 months+ – and she was feeding him puree that she brought along with in a container, while her little girl was enjoying her vanilla cone. Everything looked normal at first, until her baby started fussing.
At first we saw that she’s got everything under control, she carried him onto her lap to feed the rest of the puree. Rocked him a little, and the little guy quietened down. Hubby and I shifted our focus away from the table, and carried on talking. After all, we knew what it’s like to bring a young baby out – you can practically forget about enjoying your meal in peace without having to carry the baby around to amuse her.
But what happened next made me shift my attention to the next table again…and broke my heart a little!
It seemed the little guy was not contented in being placed in the stroller, while mum and big sister got to sit at the table. But instead of picking him up again, mum started rocking the stroller – I guess, in her efforts to pacify her baby. To my horror, the rocking movements she made to the stroller got jerkier and more intense. And within the next few seconds, it looked like she was yanking the stroller rigorously (probably out of frustration, as her baby refused to stop crying). I was actually worried that her baby will ‘fly’ out of the stroller any minute and get hurt in the process.
And while all this was taking place, mum’s elder girl appeared to be in a ‘zoned out’ state – still enjoying her vanilla cone, oblivious to the scene that was taking place in front of her.
A mix of emotions
Thankfully hubby gave me the ‘let’s go’ signal, as I froze in my seat after witnessing the scene. But this little incident made me think about a lot of things.
The mum at the next table was probably a stay-at-home mum, which meant that she spends every waking moment of every day tending to the kids needs. I know this is not an easy feat, contrary to what some people might think – that SAHMs had all the time in the world, because all they do is stay home all day with the kids. I may not have a lot of experience as a SAHM (I only had the privilege to be one for 16 weeks during my maternity leave last year), but one thing I know for sure that it’s tiring most of the time and can get frustrating sometimes. But I guess at the end of the day, the reward is one that warms your heart and makes you forget about all the tiredness and frustrating moments of your day with the little ones.
All the baby probably wanted (or needed) was for his mum to hold him in her arms, as that’s where he felt safe. I’m sure stepping into McDonald’s must be a tad daunting for a babe his age, so he was looking for comfort in the familiar touch of his mum. While it would be all too easy to blame mum for not knowing what to do at that moment, I chose to look at the bigger picture instead. She probably had a long and tiring day, juggling between getting her elder girl ready for school and looking after the baby at home. She was probably looking forward to enjoying her dinner in peace with her elder girl, hoping that her baby would cooperate by agreeing to stay in the stroller for just that few minutes. We all have moments like this ever so often, because no matter how hard we try to be supermum – at the end of the day, we’re all still humans with needs, feelings and frustrations.
I can only hope that the mum at the next table realise that her precious baby was not being difficult on purpose that day. He simply needed her close to him, because to babies and young kids, mum and dad are their entire universe. They depend on us to keep them safe and chase all the nasties and nightmares away. Our little ones won’t stay at this stage of needing and depending on us, and before we know it the little baby that we once held in our arms will grow up way too fast before our very eyes – and will eventually lead their own lives, with their own families.
So, why don’t we just spend these precious early years cuddling them close whenever they need us to – as we open their eyes and minds to the world around them?