I recently went to a social event with one of my co-workers. We both have little boys, and thought it might be fun to take them out for a little playdate while we enjoyed free food and beer. I brought Froggy, who at the time was 13 months, and her four month old son came along as well.
While at the event we were sitting around talking with other people, playing with our babies, and generally having a good time. I was wearing Froggy on my back in our Tula carrier, and her son was in his stroller. An older gentleman came over to talk with us, and asked if the boys were twins. We both quickly said no, and I said my son was a little over a year and hers is only 4 months. It was awkward, because he clearly thought both boys were my friends kids. She and her son have a similar golden brown skin tone to Froggy’s, so to some extent I could see how one might think they were related, but at the same time I was literally wearing my baby, and had been interacting with him all afternoon long. To me, it was clear he is my kid. But I guess this man just saw his skin color and thought the three of them were related and I was just a random friend baby-wearing someone else’s kid.
Anyway, about 20 minutes later a woman came over and sat next to us. At first she kept to herself but after a few minutes she asked to hold my friend’s son. My friend agreed, and the lady cooed and smiled at the baby. It was very cute and my friend was able to eat without tiny hands grabbing her food. Meanwhile, my son was walking from chair to chair and eventually walked over to the lady. She said “Oh, your big brother is coming to visit” My friend rolled her eyes (to me, the lady couldn’t see her) and then politely said “That is actually her son” gesturing to me. I just sat there. What could I say? I mean, it was the second time in one day someone clearly thought that my baby was my friend’s baby.
We needed a drink after that, so we went to get our free beer (Hello, pumpkin spice porter!!) and some other people started talking with us. We exchanged pleasantries and then they turned to my friend and said “What’s the age difference between them?” (gesturing towards the kids) She said “I don’t know. My son is 4 months and hers is like a year…?” One of the men apologized and said “Oh, sorry. I thought they were both yours” We both said no worries and went back to our table with our beers.
That third time of having someone mistake my son as my friend’s child really got to me. I know none of those people were intentionally trying to hurt me, but they did. It hurt me because I want so badly for people to tell me my kids look like me, have my hair, my nose, or my smile. And I know that will never happen. I accepted that my children probably wouldn’t look like me before my husband and I even got married, and I do not for one moment wish that they look like anyone else, but it is hard feeling like the odd parent out. I am working on having thicker skin when it comes to comments about my children because I know this is just the beginning, but it’s hard. If I’m honest, it’s a lot harder then I realized it would be, and I know I’m going to have to be stronger as my kids get older.