It Takes a Village

I had two experiences last week that felt like great stories to share here—one about a bus and the other about projectile poo (what my husband eloquently and accurately labeled “Holy Shit”—well, I canLily in her Moby.’t vouch for the holy part, but the rest is pretty self-explanatory). I decided the bus story was much more uplifting (and, come to think of it, actually more holy too). 

Lily and I just started getting out and about on our own, two girls on the town. On Thursday, Stephen had the car on a shoot all day, and I had two mom and baby play dates, so I decided to try the bus.

After finally deciding to wear Lily in her Moby Wrap (we have a ridiculous number of baby-wearing options—but each one seems to excel in a particular situation), I packed a backpack and my mini-diaper bag for the day. I’ve been trying to practice minimalism, especially in the diaper bag department. I sometimes think stroller companies and diaper bag companies are in cahoots to try to make sure women carry bags so large that they can’t imagine leaving the house without a stroller. I still took too much stuff with me—the raincoat turned out to be far too overly cautious, but I felt quite free and mobile once we set off.

The first bus trip was quick and easy, but the next bus was very full—already standing room only. I boarded with a bit of hesitation. But before I had even found my transfer to show the driver, three different people had gotten out of their seats up front to make room for me. The bus lurched forward before I had taken one of the newly freed seats, and Lily’s sun hat fell off. Helping hands quickly grabbed it for me, which I was extremely grateful for—bending down to the ground while wearing a baby is a daunting idea!

After I got settled, I looked around to see almost everyone in the front section of the bus looking at us with warm smiles (the front seats of Muni buses face each other). This was an unusual experience for me on a city bus. Typically people, especially on crowded buses, tend to keep their gaze lowered, out the window, or on their iPods. The crush of humanity can be too much to take without having to make direct eye contact with strangers.

Soon I was answering questions about how old Lily was, where she had been born, what type of wrap I was wearing, and other friendly inquiries. (I learned quickly who had grandchildren.) Men and women, both clearly senior citizens and clearly not all offered congratulations and admired her—well, what they could see of her head poking out of the Moby as she napped on my chest, which is really just her old-man hairline—not her most fetching feature.

After a few minutes, Lily woke up and started fussing. As I looked in my bag for her pacifier, the fussing turned into full on wailing. Before I knew it, the kind Japanese grandmother on my left starting rubbing

Lily’s back through the Moby and shushing loudly (very Happiest Baby on the Block style). When Lily wouldn’t take her pacifier, she asked me if I was nursing her. After I said yes, she smiled broadly, “Good for you. That’s why she’s so smart—she knows there isn’t any milk in that.”

Her husband interrupted my attempts to quiet Lily, “Isn’t this your stop?” He asked. I realized it was, and the woman across the aisle called up to the bus driver to wait. Someone helped me put my backpack back on and another person handed me my jacket (that raincoat I hadn’t ended up needing).  I exited calling out very sincere thank-you’s.

As I recounted the story to my sister later that night, she reminded me how helpful it is to have such positive encounters with humanity, encounters that help us remember that we’re all in this together. Maybe a baby just brings out the best in all of us. I left that bus with more than just a positive feeling about my fellow citizens. They did more than help me take my first bus ride avec baby—they helped me feel just a little bit more positive about the world into which I had birthed her.