The etiquette bitch – Righter of wrongs, defender of moms

It’s been a while since the etiquette bitch has surfaced. Maybe I’ve just been too busy staring down at my iPhone to notice children throwing garbage all over the aisles of Target, or too engrossed in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to catch people spitting on the subway platform.

And then there was yesterday.

A new mom in our building’s lobby was bouncing a sweaty little, barely 3 month-old baby in a Bjorn. I perceived that look of panic starting to set in on the mother’s face, before the quiet fussing even devolved into those long, high-pitched, unfortunately familiar wails.

She fidgeted more and bounced more fervently and shh‘d more, as the lunchtime crowd outside the elevator slowly inched farther away from her. I tossed her that sympathetic I’m a mom too look–you know the one–and said something about missing the days that mine were old enough to ride around in a carrier. I was drawing lines in the sand.

She quickly explained that the baby was teething already and miserable which blew my mind considering my kids were pretty much crawling, talking and doing long division before they had teeth.

As we got into the crowded elevator the baby’s cries grew sharper and louder and the bounces and shhh‘ing grew more urgent. “Sorry everyone,” she said over and over. “I’m so sorry.”

The 20-something tech geeks in the elevator they threw each other silent glances and barely detectable eyerolls, until a couple caught my eye. I stared them down with that evil, silent, protective mama bear glare, just daring them to roll those eyes. Just you try it, Mr. Entry Level IT Guy. 

Heads whipped forward towards the door and down towards Blackberries.

The Etiquette Bitch slays with silence.

I am fairly certain that a few short years ago, I would have been them. Easy.  I’d have rolled my eyes and cracked a joke and silently thanked Zeus for getting that stupid crying baby off the elevator on a low floor.

I hate that I might have ever been that person.

Because it would have been my loss.

There’s something wonderfully satisfying, I discovered, about being the defender of the mom with the screeching baby, and not the one complaining about it.

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0 thoughts on “The etiquette bitch – Righter of wrongs, defender of moms”

  1. Righteous. I think EB should get Wonder Woman's hot pants. She's earned 'em.

    I also telegraph my moral support to moms who get the evil eye. And feel truly sorry for the huffy eye-rollers, whose own needs as children were probably not tolerated or answered.

  2. People really can suck as much as they can be lovely. Empathy can be in sadly short supply.

    And I'm guessing at least one of those jackholes is a clone of the dude who always seems to be behind me in line at a coffee shop shouting into his phone.

    Grumble grumble. ;)

  3. Yeah, early teething. Makes those first months even more fun, especially since most people give you the “there's no way your baby can be teething already!” spiel.

    I remember how Kyle and I would beg the girls not to cry when we were in the elevator. A teeny tiny metal box makes for some wicked acoustics.

  4. Completely agree! I was recently in a family friendly restaurant with my 11 month old who was having a grand time. He has found his voice and loves to squeal and talk as loudly as possible. The people sitting behind me were shooting me death glares. It made me so angry. He was happy. It's not like we were in a quiet 5-star restaurant.

    Some people just need to get over themselves!

  5. Yeah for the Etiquette Bitch!

    “There's something wonderfully satisfying, I discovered, about being the defender of the mom with the screeching baby, and not the one complaining about it.”

    I would amend that to add “…or the one with the screeching baby.” We who have been there, but are not currently going through it, have a great perspective and ability to support those going through it. Way to go!

  6. My babies both had teeth by 4 months old.

    My almost 10 month old has 7(!) teeth already and is working on another one now. Teething sucks.

    But, go you for defending her. I remember being so sensitive to what other people thought of my crying baby the first time around.

    Now I think they should just be glad that they only have to listen to the baby cry for a short period of time…..

  7. YES! Loved this! (and once upon a time I would have been that person eye rolling, too … I'd love to introduce my 20something self to my current 30something self LOL)

    Great post!

  8. I traded seats with a guy on a plane, just a month ago, because I overheard him ask a woman if her baby was going to “do that” the entire flight. Jack ass.

    I believe the baby was gurgling. Ha.

    Cute little baby girl fell asleep two minutes later and stayed that way the next two hours. But the way he said it, made me want to smack him. It's hard to be that new mom, because you know people are watching. But I'd rather be that, then the jerk who complains about absolutely everything.

    Makes you wonder where they came from, since they were apparently never children themselves.

  9. Hmmm, I'm also thinking that I should just add…I had my oldest when I was 21 years old. I don't think I ever got to that point of being annoyed by babies or noise, you know?

  10. Hooray! You need a t-shirt emblazoned with “EB” that you can reveal at times like these.

    It IS satisfying, too. Last year there was a woman with a 9-month-old on my flight to Amsterdam, and I practically broke something trying to be sure she saw my sympathetic smiles as she paced the aisles with him.

  11. I love it. If anyone needs defending, it's the new mom. And if anyone already feels bad enough without childless eye-rolls, it's her, too.

    Go, Ettiquette Bitch!

  12. I needed you on my connecting flight back from Disney World in Feb!

    Before the flight began, a woman in her late 20's ish, dressed in a very modern-gothic-I-am-not-a-mother kind of way, stood up, turned around and SCREAMED at my crying 2 year old daughter!

    My exhausted daughter had been crying/screaming and this woman screamed at her, “If you scream one more time I am going to scream at you!”

    I was in SHOCK.

    Seriously?!? Who does that?!? IT is a tired two year old. She.is.two.

    Besides lady, you just did scream at her.

  13. You're a hero. A parent by (him)herself gets almost infinite slack when it comes to noises coming out of his/her child(ren), especially one that still fits in a bjorn.

  14. Love it. I find my pre-mom judgmental self fading away more and more every day, and I get enormous satisfaction now out of giving silent glares and sympathetic smiles accordingly. Bravo!

  15. Awesome. That you shut them down with silence! Not everyone can do that you know. :)

    Yesterday I was in a waiting room with a tantruming toddler and her grandmother. Grandma was looking around nervously while her sweet little grandaughter threw herself in fits of rage on the floor. She was saying things like “please come see Nana, you're bothering everyone” and I loudly said to her “this happens to everyone, all the time” as I motioned to my 3 year old. “Don't worry about it.” and Nana just smiled and proceeded to ignore the tantrum. Which, as soon as it was ignored, ended within 5 minutes.

  16. I'm a horrible person because other people's crying babies still annoy me, I just try not to let on. It's less now that I can sprinkle in a little empathy, but still. Hell, even MY crying kids annoy me sometimes.

  17. I always want to ask people judging me in public for my children's behavior (which is usually very good) how they deal with their children in these situations.

    Betcha 9 times out of 10 I would get a blank “I don't have kids” look.

    Go, EB!

  18. This made me cry. And, may I add… mommy bloggers and mommies of all types every where, the same applies to the mom struggling at the playground. Don't let your defender of the struggling mom status flag just because the mean, judgy eye-rolling people are other moms.

  19. I just turned 30. And had a hard time when I suddenly realized that I'm not the “young” mom anymore, like I was when I had my first baby at barely 24. But it's also pretty cool to be at the point where you're comfortable staring people down and defending the young/new moms who are afraid to do it for themselves.

    I guess I'm starting to understand the upside to this growing up/being comfortable in your own skin thing. It actually isn't bad ;)

  20. Oh I have become such an expert of the glare and am the first to take my three boys over and ask if we can play with the baby, which always works to quiet them down. Babies love older children and my boys adore babies.

    It is impossible to not take on the stress of these mothers and have flashbacks to those days but now I am older and wiser and speak up for these mothers when others are geering at them. Of course it is always good to also know when to remain silent!

    I hope that I get to meet you at BlogHer '10. Let me know if you would like to exchange cell #'s.

    Best, Jillian
    Author of Is Dis Normal or Dysfunctional…a currently unpublished book.

  21. Etiquette is the only thing keeping me from punctuating amen with an f bomb…guess I kind of just did, eh?

    Next time I see you I'll steam your cape on the house.

  22. Etiquette is the only thing keeping me from punctuating amen with an f bomb…guess I kind of just did, eh?

    Next time I see you I'll steam your cape on the house.

  23. Thank you, thank you, thank you! My 3 month old son had a meltdown on public transit last night, complete with eye rolling and sighing from the people around us. Wish an EB kindred spirit had been there…

  24. I love that “sympathy” look us parents give to one another in a time of hot tantrums.

    A cashier the other day yelled at me for wearing my baby…He shrunk a few inches after the diatribe that followed…

    Everyone thinks they're the parenting police.

    Etiquette bitches of the world, unite!

  25. Kudos! I'll never forget the time I was “that mother” on a plane with “that crying baby”, who also threw up all over our seats. There were a lot of people who were annoyed by me and my little one on that plane. But there was also a very nice couple near me who sympathized and offered plenty of encouraging “yep, been there” murmurs while I did my best to clean us off and soothe her to sleep. That kindness helped to get me through an otherwise harrowing three hour plane ride.

  26. In college, I worked a retail job where they sold jogging strollers. One day, a woman came in to buy one and as soon as she set the baby down in the stroller, he started screeching. The baby was LOUD too, very loud, to this day I think he was one of the loudest screamers I've ever encountered.

    She immediately picked him up and tried to soothe him, to no avail. So she walked outside, calmed him down, and then came back in. She selected the stroller she wanted, said something about trying it out at home instead, and someone packed it up and brought it to the front for her. There was a line, so we put her at the front because her little guy was starting to fuss, and then as they were ringing her up, he started screaming and crying again.

    She apologized to everyone in line, and I kid you not, this woman with two school-age kids steps out of the line and says “I'm so glad that I never let my children behave like that. Some people are awful parents and shouldn't be allowed to have babies.” The woman with the baby just broke down, I don't even know how to describe it, just tears and sniffles and apologies left and right.

    Luckily, the manager who had been helping out the woman with the baby jumped on the holier-than-thou mother in a heartbeat, and asked her to leave the store if she were going to make other customers uncomfortable. And I say luckily because I was the cashier and I was so dumbstruck that I had no idea what to do. Then the store gave the woman with the baby a 50% discount and packed it into her car for her.

    Now that I'm a mother, I find that I jump on people in a split second if they pull any sort of asshatery like that. ARGH, it makes me so angry just remembering it!

  27. Someone has to do it. I remember working so hard to find the “appropriate” “family friendly” “attractive to other moms with small children” spots around town to drag my tired-new-mom-ass to so as not to offend non-parents. It's the moment when you realize by having a kid, you subscribe to a new brand of segregation: those who have (kids) and those who have not.

  28. I don't think there is a mom/person in the world that hasn't witnessed one or more public displays of a child's freak out.Makes you wonder what planet the eye rollers come from???

    My children and I always protect the mom and baby and love to show people like that how to behave properly in these type of situations. Long live etiquette bitch!!!

  29. I always say that becoming a mother made me so much less judgmental. After all, it's easy to say “I would never (fill in the blank)” when you don't have a kid.
    And then you have a kid. And man, do you fill in the blank!

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