I’m a pretty friendly, warm and affectionate person.
Since I’ve become a mom, I’ve softened even more. My heart has swelled beyond what I could ever have imagined—there’s a whole new realm of love there.
Until strangers get right up in my baby’s face, that is.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to show her off. She draws adoring attention with her cute little booties and headbands. I don’t blame them.
But the other half of me wants to scream, “Don’t even think about touching her!”
Instead—against my fierce mama-bear instincts—I sweetly give my permission to say hello, plaster a thin smile on my face as I eyeball the well-meaning stranger’s body language and try to anticipate the inevitable caress, anxiously thinking about how to intercept it.
Slapping an elderly person’s hand?
I’m pretty sure that’s considered inappropriate, even for a mama-bear on edge, but I have to restrain myself—hard.
I actually find myself wondering whether a fake stumble that might knock them over and out of reach of my precious girl would work…
“Thank you, I also think she’s adorable.”
Why can’t the car seats and strollers I’m already spending my life-savings on come with an electrified invisible shield to keep those touchy strangers from my baby—not enough to hurt anyone, just to scare them off.
The close talkers too—cess pools of bacteria, every one of them.
I never realized how germ-a-phobic I was until I took a newborn out in public.
Is it impolite to hold my hand in front of someone’s mouth as they eyeball my baby?
Is it socially acceptable to provide surgical masks for all interested parties?
I have a large bottle of hand sanitizer in my diaper bag for these exact situations. I just haven’t conjured up the nerve to squirt it at anyone within a five foot radius of my baby.
I may walk around the store or the park with a calm demeanor and a relaxed smile. I may welcome the onlookers and make small talk about my baby’s statistics. But don’t be fooled. Inside I am on high alert—I can’t help the mental images that run through my head of all the ways that I could hurt you if your intentions turn anything but positive.
One thing that helps keep me calm is baby-wearing. I am close to my baby, I know it’s healthy for her, and being hands-free is a bonus. But most of all, it’s a perfect barrier from strangers. People seem to respect my personal space more than my baby’s.
And if they do get too close, at least I can karate chop them (or at least I think I might).
If I’m feeling this intense about a well-wishing stranger that thinks my baby is adorable, I can only imagine what I would do to a kidnapper or someone with sinister intentions.
My day is filled with many mindful moments—watching her grow and getting to know each other. I also have a lot of time for daydreaming—about all the potential harm that could come to my sweet angel, out there in the world, and all the ways I need to protect her.
I could never have imagined my heart could expand so far and be filled with such a unique and new type of love.
I also could never have predicted how intense my urge to protect my offspring would be.
Yes, becoming a mom is amazing. It’s also scary.
It scares me to know that I feel so aggressive toward innocent strangers and potentially homicidal toward the ones that aren’t so innocent.
This primal need to guard my baby and ward of any possible harm has shown me a side of myself that I never knew existed.
It’s pretty mind-blowing that I would actually lay down my life in an instant or end someone else’s just as quickly if it meant saving my child.
But then if you’re a mother too, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Author: Jaimee Guenther
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: Tambako the Jaguar/ Flickr