To the “gent” who asked a mum with a crying baby to “step outside”,
I really don’t blame you for pointing out the obvious that the sound of crying can be a real downer. Crying babies are so annoying, aren’t they? Especially if you’re trying to run a trendy, cool establishment.
And having to listen to that sound for an entire three minutes, goodness me, what a brave soul you are for having endured the noise for so long. After the mother, who had been selfish enough to think she was entitled to be treated like any other customer there to relax, tried for a while to calm the bawling little brat, you stepped in and asked her to step outside to calm the tot. In the middle of winter.
But hey, who can blame you. Because crying, even when it’s not your responsibility to deal with that crying, is so annoying, right?
You say some of your customers have complained about the cafe turning into a creche. I can relate. Before I had kids, our local cafe/diner was always packed with the snotty-nosed little tykes on a Saturday afternoon.
How annoying to have to watch them chew their food open-mouthed and scream when they didn’t get a second serving of ice cream, or cry those little newborn bleats as their desperate mother fumbled to put them to her boob but having no joy.
It irritated me, I wanted it to be for grown-ups only. A quiet, sensible place where I could chill out and enjoy my downtime in peace, swearing freely without worrying about earning a pointed look from a parent at the next table.
But I was wrong. I was totally selfish and wrong and I see that now. I only see it now because I am a parent too, and I’ve seen the other side. While your side, Mr Cafe Owner, might be populated by customers who just wanted to enjoy their coffee and cake in peace, our side is a tad darker.
Our side is a lonely place. On our side we sometimes go days without seeing another living soul apart from our baby, and maybe our other half as we pass like ships in the night, bleary-eyed from all the night feeds.
Our side involves endless worry. Worry about things like colic, trapped wind, whether our baby is eating enough, that weird-looking rash, whether the health visitor is going to judge our messy house, and the fact we haven’t made it out of the house at all in over a week.
On our side we may have stitches in places no-one wants to think about having stitches, and let’s not forget about the other lovely side effects of being post-partum such as piles, hair loss and those baby blues that make us weep just because we forgot to drink our tea.
And there’s the embarrassment factor. The fact that our cheeks heat up whenever we fail to stop our baby from crying within 20 seconds of the noise beginning. It brings with it anxiety, because we cannot predict when that crying will begin and often, we cannot stop it, even when we thrust a boob in our baby’s mouths.
Sometimes, babies are just crying for no reason. How anti-social of them, right?
So for us going out with a new baby is an ordeal. We have mixed feelings about going out. We kind of want to go out, but we mostly just feel like we should go out before people start to think we are becoming a shut-in.
The fact is any parent who has braved taking a young baby out into public deserves a bloody medal, a pat on the back, and the offer of a glass of water if she’s breastfeeding.
Raising kids is hard. Not, “Oh my god I just wanted to enjoy my coffee in peace” hard, but “holy shit if I have one more night of only one hour’s sleep I think I might die” hard.
So next time a baby cries in your establishment and a childless customer points out how much its disturbing their quiet time. Maybe you could tell them that babies are a part of life as a human being. And babies cry. Then perhaps you could point out the door – to the person who complained – if that isn’t explanation enough.
If you ran a pub I may not be disagreeing with your policy of booting new mums out into the cold so they can calm their distressed baby down quite so vehemently.
But the fact is you run a cafe open to all, regardless of circumstances or disability. Would you tell someone suffering from Tourette’s to go outside and calm their ticks down? No, because then you would fall foul of the disability and discrimination act.
In my opinion, booting a crying baby out of the premises is the same thing.
So next time a baby belonging to a paying customer has the audacity to cry, like all babies do, perhaps you could just let it go. Perhaps you could just accept that’s what babies do. And be a little kinder to your fellow human being.
Because trust me, living with a new baby is a far greater ordeal than having to drink your cappuccino while listening to someone else try to calm a crying baby.
Stressed out mummies everywhere