Tuesday, March 15, 2005

I'm the Mommy

I wish I could write this post and tell you that I am better than this. I wish I could say that I'm not prone to being petty. I wish I could say that I am bigger than feeling self-important. But I'm not.

I am feeling very happy and proud and what the Good Book likes to call "stiff-necked" tonight. You see, since getting my daughter, I have been (as I've shared with you) judged, assessed and shamed by Chinese ladies--total strangers--in the street and in the medical clinic for doing something wrong, or not doing something I should be doing, or for something so minor as letting my baby suck her finger as she teethes (um hellooo?! I've had her for 6 days! There is time aplenty to work her out of that; right now it makes her feel better and I'm not going to stop her!). Tonight I just hit my limit of feeling judged by "the village" that apparently wants to NOW raise my child.

It happened at a local restaurant away from the hotel; all of the waitresses were hanging around to look at all the babies and tell the moms what we are doing wrong, in one of those cross-cultural situations that neither side can understand the other. All the American moms were just at our limits with the constant invasion into our lives and child rearing practices in the 6 big days we've been doing it, and the Chinese women couldn't understand why we don't take better care of our children by dressing them better and keeping their fingers out of their mouths.

Because of where we were sitting--and perhaps because my daughter is the cutest baby currently domiciled in all of China--about 4 women started playing with her, talking to her, touching her. One of them rolled up her sleeve to make note of some dry skin and point it out to me. I very nearly stood up and had it out right there. I was trying mightily to be polite amid the very obvious culture clash, but all I was thinking was "Don't touch my child; I don't know you and neither does she. Please stop touching my child."

And then my kid came through for me, little awesome munchkin that she is. She was standing on my lap with her arms around my neck looking back at the ladies, when one of them in particular kept doing that open-hand movement that says, "come here; come to me." When I saw it, I was just thinking, "Aww, HELL NO!!! I don't know you! And you have already started pulling up her shirt to look at her skin?! No way are you touching my child." And at that moment, my daughter grabbed my neck tighter, whimpered, and looked away from her and snuggled into me like, "I don't want to leave; don't make me leave."

Rock Star Baby Delivers The Smackdown!!!

And with that, the disappointed crowd departed, no doubt not understanding the essential fact that my girl and I internalized from the millisecond we met: She is mine and I am hers. Simply looking Chinese doesn't make you more familiar or comforting to her, anymore than being a random white woman would be at all comforting to a white baby who wanted her mother. Being her mom makes me familiar and comforting to her, regardless of what I look like. And yes, dear waitress, even after just a few days.

So! My little finger-sucking, smackdown-delivering, no-hat wearing baby and her totally delighted and uppity mother will just be heading on our way now... Sweeeeet!!! ;)

1 comment:

misterfed said...

This post made my entire day, possibly my week. Thanks.

Yes, one of the greatest moments of my life was at the meeting when we first met my son. My wife fed him a bottle, and I burped him, and then he feel asleep on my shoulder, cuddled against me.