We at Happiness Series are thrilled to introduce the first piece in Natalie Magee’s column Baby & Beyond – What No One Else Will Tell You. This column, exclusive to Happiness Series, hopes to inspire, educate, inform and entertain, and most of all, to let you know, whether you’re a mother, a single woman, married, or happily child-free, that you are not alone. We’ve got your back. We’re in this with you. Natalie writes about her experiences as a new mom, a wife, a woman, a flight attendant, and a fitness instructor. She’s a friend you can count on to tell it like it is and to offer up her “war stories” to make you laugh, to inspire you, to help you avoid mistakes she’s made, to share with you everything she’s learned. So, comment, let us know what you think, what advice you have, what kind of workouts you want to do (Natalie will also be creating a series of workout videos that will get you fit and keep you there), what you’ve learned, and what you want to know. This is a community, and we want to hear from you. Thanks! Tania
Baby Socialite – a “Baby & Beyond, What No One Else Will Tell You” post
by Natalie Magee
A few days ago I met my husband for lunch near his office in downtown Denver. Instead of bringing the stroller, which can be a hassle to maneuver through the crowded 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver during the work week, I had Charlotte in the baby Bjorn baby carrier. The weather was a little brisk so I put this ridiculous bunny hat on her. Charlotte was facing out in the carrier for the entire world to see, and she’s at the phase now at 7 months old where she will smile back at anyone who smiles her way. From our lunch, to shopping that afternoon, I have never had so many people comment, smile, and engage in conversation with us. That bunny hat mixed with Charlotte’s smile was magic.
Having a baby has turned me into a socialite.
Not that I wasn’t social before. Anyone who has ever crossed my path knows that I enjoy talking, and I talk A LOT. However, having an iPhone has also made me somewhat anti-social in the real world. My phone is perma-glued to my hand, and I turn to it for a source of comfort in social situations. It’s almost like having a best friend tag along wherever I go. Waiting for the dentist? Play on my iPhone. Order a sandwich and waiting to pay? Check my iPhone. Sitting in a restaurant waiting for my lunch date to arrive? You guessed it, I’m on the iPhone. The smart phone that connects me with so many others has also disconnected me from the real world, that is, until Charlotte came along.
In addition to smiling at everyone she meets, she has taken a vested interest in my smart phone. Recently anytime I pull it out she waves her hands towards it and wants to put the glowing magical object in her mouth. I do not know if you have ever had the pleasure of wearing a baby in a front facing baby carrier but it’s like your body has sprouted an extra pair of arms that you cannot control. They flail and grab and pinch and reach and if you aren’t careful they take down half a rack of clothing which shopping.
Charlotte successfully replaced my iPhone the other day while out and about because she became my companion and my focus. Since I did not have time to engage in the online world, I became engulfed in real time life. Have you taken the time lately to look up and straight ahead while walking down the street? You should. There’s a whole world out there full of interesting people and scenery to see.
When my eyes became unglued to technology and began to focus on the world right in front of my face my ears also opened up. I heard people saying things like, “Oh, look at that cute baby in that monster hat! Isn’t that cute?” “Did you see that baby’s smile?” or “How cute is THAT?”
We jumped on the mall ride and three men immediately got up out of their seats to offer me theirs. This never even happened when I was pregnant! A wife of one of the men who had gotten up noticed Charlotte’s sock was slipping off and got up to put it back on for her. This simple act evolved into a conversation for a good 5 minutes about children’s clothing and her son at home. Women at the cash registers at the shops I went into would ask about Charlotte and tell me about their children as well. It seemed everywhere we walked that day we were met with smiles because Charlotte was throwing hers out for everyone to enjoy.
When I was heavily pregnant I got a small taste of what my future would be like. Everywhere I went I noticed people staring at me or more likely my pregnant belly. Men and women would touch my stomach (some asked and some did not) and almost all would share stories of their own child birth experiences. I felt a connection with those around me in a deeper way than I ever had before. I was sad to think that in a month or so I would not have that belly out there for the world to see. Now I realize that was just the tip of the iceberg. Having a baby has reminded me to put away what I thought was important and focus on what truly matters, which are people and experiences. Previously I only enjoyed this kind of interaction when hiking, skiing, teaching yoga, working out or swimming – all phone-free places. I thought having a baby would hold me back socially, and now I see Charlotte has taught me to cut the crap from my life that doesn’t matter.
My only regret is coming to the realization that it shouldn’t have taken having a baby to become a socialite. Not an online socialite but one who interacts with people every day on a personal level. One who remembers their waiters name or what the guy making the smoothie at the coffee shop looks like. To become a person who smiles at the lady opening the door for you or makes polite conversation on the elevator.
My dad is perhaps the only man I know without a smart phone, and one of the few people I know who still makes conversation with everyone he meets. He talks to the ladies at the bank for more than a minute and shows them pictures of his dog. He’s on a first name basis with the guy who busses tables at a local restaurant. My dad knows his neighbors and their stories. My dad will sit at a restaurant with you and look you in the eye when you talk and never check his phone because he didn’t bring one. I am grateful for these two people in my life: my dad and Charlotte for showing me how easy it can be to just stop and enjoy the world happening around me. I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to put down the technology and become present.
It’s true… when you’re smiling the whole world really does smile with you.
Filed Under: Blogs
About the Author: Natalie Magee writes a regular column for Happiness Series about what motherhood and beyond - from prenatal to postpartum. Her intention with her column, "Baby & Beyond - What No One Else Will Tell You" is to give practical advice and tips to the busy mom and mom-to-be. She also shares her experiences good, bad and ugly as a woman, wife, mom, flight attendant and fitness instructor. Natalie is also a regular fitness contributor on Happiness Series. She will continue to create great, effective workouts for anyone - including the busy moms out there - who wants to get fit and stay in shape.