I don't know how some parents make it look so effortless. Taking their weeks-old infants out to hip restaurants and cafe's and having them behave impeccably (or better yet, sleep) while they sip their lattes. My kid is having none of it.
The first time I tried to take her out was to a friend's baby-friendly house for a casual BBQ. She was just over two months old and generally OK with unfamiliar faces as long as I was with her. I had been flying solo on the parenting front the whole week while my husband travelled for work.
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In the week leading up to the get-together, I marched endlessly up and down the second floor of my house, reminding myself that I had a social occasion to look forward to. Nursery to bedroom. Bedroom to nursery. Down the stairs, up the stairs, morning, noon and night. Eating the same meal I cooked five days ago because the baby didn't want me to put her down long enough to even make a quick salad.
I was all prepared for the evening get-together. I even went out and bought chicken for the BBQ, marinated it at 11 p.m. the night before after the baby finally went down, had a ride from a friend planned out in case I wasn't comfortable driving down alone if my daughter started to fuss, the whole nine yards. My husband was flying in later, he was going to meet me there. I had been looking forward to this for weeks.
An hour after arriving, she started to scream. She'd had her share of fussiness over the last few days, and I'd even taken her out almost every day, sometimes for hours on end. But that day she decided she was going to yell like the world was ending, and nothing helped—not even putting her on the breast helped. I tried everything, all the usual tricks, and nothing worked. About 10 minutes after my husband arrived, we decided to call it a night and put everyone out of their misery. To their credit, my friends were amazing and totally understanding, but I felt awful. And disappointed. And then guilty for feeling disappointed.
I came home where she promptly fell asleep like nothing was wrong, and poured myself my first-ever glass of wine to drink by myself. I'm strictly a social drinker, it usually never even occurs to me to pour myself something boozy when I'm alone. That night though, I finally got all those "Mommy juice" jokes.
Sitting there that night, it felt like I'd failed. More accurately, it felt like I just had my ass handed to me by something wearing a pink onesie. I know she can't help herself, she's just a baby. I also know that these were my plans, not hers. All she wanted to do was be in her room at bedtime and fall asleep like she had done every other night so far. And it's just one night. I know all of these things. But I still felt like crap.
Not to be deterred, we tried to take her for an earlier dinner the following weekend. We picked a family-friendly restaurant, and followed all the tips that helpful friends had contributed—including keeping her in the car seat as long as possible, taking toys, carrying pumped milk, you name it. We had just about managed to place our dinner order when she lost it. My husband tried to pacify her with milk, a soother and walking up and down, nothing worked. I finally took her aside, fed her outside the restaurant while he scarfed down his dinner and packed up my (untouched) food to go. I finally managed to eat it at 10:30 p.m.
So far, so much fail.
She's just over three months now, and I have managed to have one lunch and one breakfast in public without her going too crazy. Sometimes I think it would be easier to be one of those people that just love being at home and have little desire to go outside. But I know myself, and if I give in and stay home at all times, I'll go bananas. So, now it's a question of her will versus mine. Unfortunately, her will seems less bendable and infinitely more shout-y.
I want so much for her to be able to integrate into our lifestyle—I'm always hearing stories or seeing pictures of parents with their infants at restaurants, festivals, parties, even the odd pub. It's a whole new world, and I feel totally lost. But, I'm trying to fit in.
Roma Kojima is a first time mom of a tiny, wriggly girl. Aside from muddling her way through new parenthood, she loves to cook, travel, and obsess about leather purses she can’t afford. Follow along as she shares her journey.