Coming From a Place of Love -Aarika Anderson Elter
When I was pregnant, the thought of a stranger touching my baby induced near-rage. The audacity of someone touching my child without asking! I was the pregnant lady who purchased the stroller-cover and planned to battle the germy world with 24/7 baby mittens. You can imagine my surprise then, when none of this really seemed to bother me once Luke was born.
I quickly realized the reason for this shift is because I recognized early on that the attention "comes from a place of love."
There was the grandfather in the grocery store who touched my sleeping Luke on the head (snuggled into his Ergo, no less) and said so gently, "How old is your son? I have two boys of my own." In that moment, I thought less about where his hand had been and more about my connection to him as a parent. There was the waitress in the pho restaurant, who after admiring Luke and doting over him our entire meal, asked if she could hold him on our way out the door. I said yes. I realized there was complete stranger holding my son, but in that moment, I thought more about the smile on her face, her comments about her own children and my connection to her as a mother than anything else.
This doesn't mean that I never experience discomfort or the "mama bear" instinct when it comes to my baby. I do, but I try to put it into perspective. There was the not-so-well-kept woman with her own children at an outreach event where I was working. She grabbed Luke's hand and proceeded to tell me how adorable he was. I would have preferred she hadn't touched him, but she didn't need to know that. I thanked her for the compliments while I held Luke's little hand and walked out of sight to sanitize. She didn't mean any harm and I wasn't there to judge. I understood that both her comments and her actions came from a place of love, she was a mother too. I also try to remember this perspective when I encounter strangers (or even family, friends) offering unsolicited tidbits of advice. It is sometimes annoying, sometimes irritating and sometimes even infuriating, but I try to remember that it's all well-intentioned and it comes from a place of love.
Until I had a baby of my own, I had NEVER, EVER, had the desire to touch a stranger's baby. Now, when I see babies (the smaller the better), I do feel the urge to touch and hold them. This urge is strongest when I'm at work and away from my own son. I miss him desperately and in that moment, any baby would do. I think it's just a motherly instinct that we want to touch, hold, love babies.. Although I still have never touched a stranger's baby, nor do I plan on doing so, I try to remember this when Luke and I are approached. I don't know their story, but maybe it's the mother with grown children, the grandfather with children and grandchildren out of state, the parent who lost a child, or a women who desperately wants a baby of her own. In that moment, I have decided that any attention, affection, touch - Luke is lucky to have it, germs and all.
I hope that when I'm 80 and I might mistakenly touch a stranger's baby without thinking, that mother understands that it comes from a place of love.
I certainly will think of Aarika's story the next time a stranger looks longingly at PJ and wants to touch and hold her!
|Aarika Anderson Elter is a dentist in the Tacoma, WA area, |
where she lives with husband Ryan, son Luke (9 months)
and their two pit bulls, Kahlua and Ace.