Before I had a baby, I felt I had finally gotten my personal and social life pretty much in check.
I had successfully edged out needy acquaintances that sucked up more of my energy than their time was worth. I limited my time with family members who were annoying and relegated their visits to holidays and necessary rite-of-passage events. And I ghosted on exes who were never anything but toxic (but whom I had previously kept around for unknown reasons, perhaps part ennui and part ego). I also didn’t usually interact with people in public, whether at the grocery store or on public transportation, and I certainly didn’t expect strangers to come up to me to ask really personal questions or try to touch me.
Then I had a baby.
The carefully designed boundaries (that I had spent years, in some cases, solidifying) all came crashing down. All kinds of people, some of whom I hadn’t heard from in years and many of whom I never wanted to hear from ever again, came out of the woodwork wanting to talk to me and wanting to meet the baby. And honestly, if it weren’t for the baby, I would have been tempted to break out the pepper spray against some of these folks — like the completely random accosters on the street.
Here are five types of people you’ll meet as a new parent, whether you like it or not.
These are people you formerly considered just, you know, your friends. You grabbed a beer with them or went to a concert or enjoyed dinner and wine at the coolest new restaurant. Now that a baby is in the picture, they still want to hang out, but they make it pretty clear that they wish you didn’t have a baby in tow. They’ll keep talking about their racy date or crappy boss while your baby is hollering and clearly requires your attention. They won’t understand why your focus isn’t completely on them; they’ll slip subtle things into the conversation like, “Remember before you had the kid and we had so much fun doing…?”
Having a baby suddenly grants you membership into the mom society. Only it’s a club that doesn’t offer any benefits, just a constant barrage of questions and unsolicited advice. Moms will pass you on the street and nod, like an acknowledgement that you’re both a part of this secret society that’s not actually secret at all. Moms at work will approach you and ask weird development questions about your baby, and you can tell they’re sizing your little one up to see how they compare with their own kids. “Is your baby crawling yet?” they’ll ask, and then lay it on about how their baby started crawling at just 4 months — and reading at a year.
Strange people on the street
This one is definitely the creepiest. Suddenly, complete and utter strangers will approach you on the street everywhere you go; they’ll comment on your baby, and they’ll ask you invasive questions you don’t want to answer. It would be one thing if this were just the grandma types cooing over how cute your baby is. But no, the passersby who suddenly want to talk to you will run the gamut from Lonely Gal With Mom Issues to Man With Ripped Clothes Muttering to Himself — and everyone in between. And beware: Some will also try to touch your baby. Don’t be afraid to run interference with hand wipes and rejection.
Family you haven’t seen since you were 3
There were cousins I hadn’t talked to since, well, before I could talk who came out of the woodwork the minute my baby was born to demand pictures and visits and buy him clothes that were so far from our style — or anyone’s with halfway decent fashion sense — that every outfit went straight into the donation pile. Sure, it’s sweet that Aunt So-and-so wants to be a part of our lives now; it’s just that the first few months of your kid’s life are actually the worst time ever to find room in your calendar (around feeding and sleep schedules and the million and one other things you haven’t caught up on) to entertain new guests you haven’t seen since you were in diapers yourself.
The ghosts of romances past
I’m friends with an ex or two on Facebook, but we’d reached a point where we largely ignore each other and have moved on with our lives at a respectful distance. In fact, I was so disengaged with them that Facebook’s algorithm didn’t even cough up their content in my feed most of the time. Then the baby was born — and all of a sudden I started seeing them everywhere. They liked every post and commented left and right. They started sending me messages, and some even called asking to visit and meet the baby. A wise person once said something about letting sleeping exes lie. I tend to agree, especially when a baby brings you one step further into your new life.
Everyone says having a kid changes everything. But I never realized until it happened to me how much it changed the people around me as well. Maybe one day when my baby isn’t a baby anymore, the constant barrage of questions, comments, jabs and “wisdom” will stop. But maybe by then, I’ll be the old lady sticking my head into someone else’s baby stroller — aching with nostalgia and invading their privacy all at once.