Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Babies and Bars

The year was 2007.  The day was March 17.  The party started at our 650 square foot studio apartment in Murray Hill.  After a few hours of the kind of morning drinking only appropriate on St. Patrick's Day, we moved to our neighborhood pub, Third and Long.  UnPlain led a parade of revelers into the bar, probably playing "air" bagpipes and in the middle of the crowd spotted the most adorable, cuddly, snuggly, six-month old baby.  Yes, six-month old baby.  Wah?

True story.  I put down my imaginary bagpipe and marched directly up to the drop dead gorgeous twenty-something mother of the drop dead gorgeous zero-something baby, held out my arms and yelled, "Can I hold him?!"  I surmise it must've sounded more like "BlahBlahSLUR-BOLD-EM" considering how many mimosas I'd had that day.    To my surprise, the mother-of-the-year candidate in front of me handed over Little Mr. Adorable almost instantly.  I S-H-I-T you not and have a large number of eye witnesses who can validate this story.  Not only did she hand him over, I carried this baby on my hip, with a drink in the other hand for a good 10 - 15 minutes, dancing, laughing and playing peek-a-beer.  It was only when she whipped out her supermodel perfect boob in the middle of a crowded pub, on St. Patrick's Day to breastfeed him that I handed him back over.  Behind me, T and all the others tried to pick their jaws up off the floor.

At 27 years old, with the ring not quite on my finger yet, I passingly judged this woman who appeared to be close in age to me.  For days my friends and I remarked about the fact that this new(ish) mother had her baby in a crowded bar, handed over her baby to someone who had clearly imbibed a few cocktails and then proceeded to breastfeed her baby after probably having a a few cocktails herself.  We judged, we made jokes, we expressed disbelief.

What I did not feel at the time, was the heart heaviness that I feel now when I think back to that experience. As the mother of a precious little man who rules my world in the most wonderful way, it physically pains me to remember the disregard with which this woman treated that tiny someone who completely depended on her for the most basic of needs.  Perhaps this sounds a bit dramatic (have you met me?), but it hits me in a way now that it didn't back then.

Then yesterday, when a friend posted on Facebook this debate, "Are Modern Parents Self-Absorbed" from it brought me back to St. Patricks Day 2007 and got me thinking about UnPlain, T and Baby P in 2012.  When you have a baby, does your life stop?  Do you give up the pre-baby activities you considered fun?  Or, do you bring baby along for the ride?  For me, I think we meet somewhere in the middle.  Life does not stop, it changes.  Fun is still to be had, timing is simply trickier (and more expensive).  And baby comes along for the ride sometimes, when it's appropriate.

P has come along with T and I to a day time wine tasting event, but Momma UnPlain didn't get to taste all that much. Does P come out to dinner with us?  Absolutely, but we go early, we order fast and if P's not cooperating we get our food to go.  I believe it's my job (and my pleasure) to behave responsibly.  I  do what's best for my child and do my best to be considerate of others.  On the other hand, it's unfair of you express your annoyance just because I have a stroller or because my baby is still learning to control the volume of his hearty, wonderful laugh. Do you also think that my 90 year old grandparent in a wheelchair who yells because he can't hear should be kept out of your favorite dining establishment as well? I'm sorry, is Grandpa ruining your meal?

The bottom line is you're not going to see my baby at a club or lounge and you're not going to see my baby watching your favorite band at your favorite bar at 9pm.  You probably won't see me either because I'm tired and I'll be in bed.  However, you may see my baby at that family friendly biergarten on a crisp fall afternoon and we, the entire family UnPlain, have every right to be there whether you like it or not.

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