When I first heard that a three-month-old was one of the victims of the Batman movie shooting, my first reaction was to say to Tony, “Oh my God, whyyyy was there a three-month-old at the movies? At midnight? What is wrong with some parents???” My husband nodded in agreement, he didn’t understand what business a baby had at the movies either.
However, as I’ve thought about it further, I’ve come to a completely different realization: I have no business judging those parents.
I can’t believe that, two kids later, I still jump to the same initial conclusions about bad parenting that I did four or five years ago. At least now I’m wise enough to catch myself and recognize when I’m being Judgy McBitch.
Listen, I’ve never taken my babies to the movies, but I have done plenty of other innocuous things that have made me feel as if others were judging my parenting decisions and, let me tell you, it don’t feel good.
Just the other day, we took baby Pau to lunch at a casual barbecue restaurant we’d frequented many times in the past, sans baby. Our six-week-old had fallen asleep in the car and we'd miraculously succeeded in transferring him from the car seat to the stroller without waking him. So, when the hostess suggested we fold up the stroller, we declined. Our baby was asleep! During lunch! There was a chance for Tony, Luki and I to have a meal at the same time! This was unprecedented.
The hostess made a face and talked to the manager, who also made a face and said something like, “Ugh, what are we gonna do... ” and we were reluctantly allowed to park our stroller next to our table. Throughout lunch, restaurant patrons and waiters kept looking at our baby as if he was committing some heinous crime. Yes, the stroller was in the walkway, but it was not blocking the entire route and folks could get by perfectly well. Still, our food arrived faster than ever, and our waiter had the bill ready the second we took the last bite, no offer of dessert or coffee.
It definitely felt as if my family was not wanted in that establishment and I remember thinking: Parents of newborns have the right to eat lunch too! Yeah, we could have cooked at home or ordered take-out, but sometimes I want to feel like an actual person and not just a disheveled blob whose sole purpose is to nurse and change diapers.
I don’t know the circumstances around the parents who took their baby to the Batman premiere, but just like I have the right to eat lunch, they had the right to be entertained. Taking a baby to the movies is not supposed to be dangerous and three-month-olds are often up at midnight anyway. I bet those parents had barely left the house in the last three months and needed to feel human again, just for one night. Maybe they couldn’t find a sitter. Maybe the baby is breastfed and can’t be away from his mom. Whatever their situation, we should not judge them, especially in light of this terrible tragedy. When we judge, the underlying message is that it’s their fault their baby was hurt, and it absolutely is not their fault at all.
So, here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to take all the mental energy I would’ve spent judging and turn it into thoughts and prayers for that precious baby and all the other victims of this senseless massacre. I hope you do the same.