Eleven some years ago I boarded a flight to USA, a naive young girl, newly married and moving away from her parents for the first time ever in her life. On the leg from London to my city, an elderly British lady befriended me. I think we bonded over our common fear of the airplane restroom and the possibility of being stuck inside if the doors wouldnt open (AI used to have those heavy doors which you had to push in the middle to open, havent seen them since!).
The lady was on her way to see her grandson for the first time. When we landed and got through customs, she introduced me to her son and her grandson - a cute baby sitting in his stroller. I immediately bent down and talked to him and then did the unthinkable - touched his cheek. I can never forget the hasty pull back of the stroller by his father and the horrified annoyed look I got from him. I simply couldnt understand what it is, that I had done wrong when P explained to me that some folks dont like strangers touching their babies - especially when you have gotten off an international flight.
Now almost 11 years and 2 kids later, I can relate to that father. I dont know if being in this country has changed me or its the whole motherhood quotient or I have grown wiser and know the ways of the world or whatever.....I might also cringe if a complete stranger holds my baby at the airport - fresh off an international flight, maybe, might not but the possibility is there :)
I remember being amused when my school friend visited and he kissed R over and over again, unabashedly like a doting Uncle would to his favorite niece. Is it this country? Or is it me? Or is it because you are forced to grow up when you leave home and the comfort of your family and friends and have to set up your life and start all over again in new unfamiliar surroundings? Does that make you hesitant to display emotions, teach you to be more guarded, teach you to protect yourself from not displaying either extreme happiness or sadness? I dont know...
For now, I wanted to remember this incident as one of my distant acquaintances visits - a niece of my neighbor's in India. She is newly married and recently moved here. Is visiting my city during this long weekend and suddenly called me up this week to say she would like to come over. Called me twice during the day when I was sleeping and then feeding baby S and couldnt get to the phone, the third time she left an angry message saying "I cant reach you, just send me your address so I can come over". First of all I am not even pally pally with this female, secondly I have a month old infant, maybe some understanding if I dont return your call asap, atleast give me 4 hours from your last call and thirdly its the long weekend, could you please ask us if we have any plans, family visiting to see the baby etc and we might have some preferences on when we would like her to visit. Anyways I did talk nicely to her and have invited her for dinner today but it made me think.
Is it being a new mother all over again and I am tired and sleep deprived and dont have the enthu to entertain non friends, non relatives - I dont even know what category she falls into...Have I changed that now I expect people to give me formal notice of when they will visit? Actually as I type this, I realise, its not that....even in India you would call someone if you have driven 6 hours to visit their city and will drive another 45 minutes to go see them, wouldnt you want to make sure they are home and available to entertain? Especially if they have an infant at home....
Anyways....open your mind S and be more understanding, a little more patient and a bit more welcoming and give her the benefit of doubt. And when the clock chimes ten, excuse yourself and go to bed..
Edited to add: They did visit and were very sweet. She is rough around the edges but he is very very nice! I was glad we had put together a nice dinner and were available to chat nicely. They also left at ten when I had already started yawning....Have resolved to be more friendlier and welcoming to new acquaintances..