Today it felt good to play the hero for a newborn baby. Everyone in the store could hear the baby squalling. On and on and on and on. I said under my breath, “pick up the baby.” I saw a young mother wheeling a shopping cart with the crying baby strapped into a car seat.
Another woman angrily approached the young mother and said, “that is abusive!” The woman held her phone as if she were threatening to call an authority to report the mother for child abuse.
I remembered how, as a new mother, I had felt overwhelmed and clueless about how to get the baby to stop crying. I mosied on over to the young mother.
I heard the mama say something about how the baby hated the car seat but she wanted him to be safe. “My babies hated the car seat too,” I empathized. “I just picked them up and held them.” She took the baby out of the car seat and as she held him to her chest he stopped crying. I think everyone in the store breathed a sigh of relief.
“Babies like to feel mama’s heartbeat and feel loved,” I said compassionately. She murmured something about him always wanting to be held. “Yes,” I assured her, “babies do like feeling mama close. That’s why I carried mine in a baby sling all the time.” The mama said she had tried a wrap that didn’t work but she had a baby front pack that she hoped would work. She set Baby back into the car seat without strapping him and he remained calm. I wished her well as she wheeled away.
The situation de-escalated easily through simple and compassionate communication. The angry woman did not help the baby because the mother became defensive and self-conscious. Who knows what was going on with the mama. Maybe she had depression. Maybe she was so sleep deprived she felt numb. I remember those days of no sleep.
I am telling this story because many miscommunications contribute to stress and anxiety. Next time you see a stressed-out mom in a store, empathize with her. Murmur some soothing words to her: “it is hard when Baby is colicky.” “Newborns are a lot of work but they are so precious.” “I remember when my baby cried a lot.”
As I returned to shopping, a different woman thanked me for intervening and helping the new mom. Having determined that I was a compassionate person, the woman then proceeded to show me the clothes she was choosing to get my opinion on what to purchase. I murmured something that sounded compassionate and moved away. I am not that compassionate.
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