I would never touch someone’s face or someone’s body unless I knew them very well or had their permission for whatever reason. I think most of us realize it is an invasion of personal space.
If you’re pregnant, or you’re a baby. That unspoken decency apparently goes out the window. While pregnant with our first, I was shocked as to how many people think it was their place to comment about my size, their prediction of the sex based on my shape, my “dreaded” future, the lack of sleep, the list goes on.
I became super protective of my space while pregnant the first time around. I was thrown off guard a few times and it made my mama instincts come out real fast. I had a homeless, drunken man come up to me while at work at the restaurant I was working at. He got all in my face asking why he couldn’t get the same service as others. As he got closer he began to give me more trouble. Lucky for him, he walked into a BBQ restaurant with steak knives and approached a pregnant woman. I grabbed the knife and hid it under my wrist in case he came too close. I usually wouldn’t go to that extent so soon but I was not going to take any chance with my girl in my belly. One of the few instances where I realized motherhood began much sooner than the first time you hold your baby.
There was another instance when my daughter was about six months where someone I thought my husband knew was playing with our daughter, grabbed her arms and picked her up…by her arms. By her very delicate and underdeveloped joints. I didn’t speak up this time. I still kick myself for it. My gut told me to, but my husband didn’t seem concerned and the woman had children of her own, so I didn’t speak up. I didn’t want to cause a riff or make it awkward for anyone. I didn’t speak up when I should have. I didn’t have to grab a knife in case I had to shank someone but I should have spoken up and asked her to play with Kanga another way. I could have expressed my concern for her arms. I could have said it nicely.
Fast forward to this past month and I have had many attempts at my belly and even more attempts at my daughter. I had a woman follow me trying to hold my daughter, or pet her, touch, put her hand on my daughter’s head. I put my own hand over my daughter’s head to block her hand and began walking away. She didn’t catch the hint. I asked her to please stop and she decided it was an appropriate time to ask me personal questions. I removed myself and my daughter from the situation immediately.
Just the other day at Michael’s, I was carrying my sleeping daughter on my shoulder when a woman came up to her and enthusiastically exclaimed that she was a baby and she was asleep. Well yes woman, she is clearly a baby and she is clearly asleep so get out of her damn face, back the eff up and quiet your mouth. I didn’t say that. I shushed her, loudly. She got the hint. I surprised myself, honestly. I don’t know why but I didn’t expect to shush her. I was damn proud that I did. I definitely didn’t think about how to react, I just did. And no, I don’t apologize for being rude–not one bit.
I don’t understand the lack of respect of boundaries especially when you’re pregnant or holding a baby. I know it’s uncomfortable to speak up in situations where you don’t feel comfortable. I missed an opportunity to do so which could have led to my daughter’s arms being pulled out of their sockets. But from the minute you know you’re pregnant, it’s your job to speak up and protect yourself and your unborn child. Learn how to speak up for yourself and your child in the nine months of gestation because you will need to advocate for your child for the rest of their life. You will need to speak up for yourself and your loved ones for as long as you live. It’s a great responsibility that we shy away from because it’s uncomfortable.
But if not you, who?
If you need help, ask. If you want to be left alone, tell that person. If you need a hug, ask. For the first few years of childhood, our children don’t have words to express themselves. For some children they will never have the words to express themselves. That, is our responsibility.
Speak up, don’t let people touch your babies or your bellies if your gut feeling says no or you don’t know them. Go ahead and slap a hand away; and don’t feel guilty for doing so.
Cheers strong women,