I had a weirdly upsetting experience at the library last week. I'm sure I responded as I did because I'm over-tired but I was not prepared for the way I felt afterward.
Aspen is an awesome kid. She loves the library and before Lincoln was born we went once a week, either to the Murray City library or the West Jordan library. Sometimes both! I love the free programs they offer for kids and since I love to read, it's great to have access to so many books through the SL County library system. What I'm saying is, we aren't strangers to the library.
Last week we ventured out in the drizzly rain and attended story time. I still feel uncomfortable breast feeding in public, so I went to the trouble of thawing some expressed breast milk and preparing a bottle for Linc before we left. I knew he'd need to eat during the story time and I didn't want to worry about someone coming up to me and asking me to use a cover or go somewhere else to feed him.
While Aspen listened to the story time with one of the children's librarians, I sat and fed Linc his bottle. I chatted with one of my friends and enjoyed being out of the house with the kids. We ended up waiting around afterward for my friend so I could give her something from my car when her kids were done selecting books. As we waited, Aspen and I soothed Linc by rhythmically pulling a rattle that's attached to his car seat (he won't take a binky, but that zebra rattle makes him happy!). Aspen was sitting on the floor, waiting quietly for us to go.
That's why I was so surprised when a librarian walked over to me and told me the baby's rattle was too loud. She said it wasn't an appropriate library toy because it could be heard throughout the building. I was dumbfounded. Mere feet away from me children were loudly crying. I said to the librarian that I thought the sound of the rattle was better than the sound of my son screaming. He was ready for a nap and I was doing what I could to keep him quiet until I got him home to rest. She reiterated that the rattle was too loud.
I started crying as I put the rattle in my bag so Aspen wouldn't continue helping me pull it for Linc. I gathered up our things and walked out of the library, getting a sympathetic, "I'm sorry" from the children's librarian who had watched the whole exchange.
I don't know why it affected me the way it did. Maybe because I had wasted time that morning worrying about breast feeding in public, and here I was being embarrassed in front of other parents for having a loud rattle. Maybe because I'm so very tired and this was just more than my fried nerves could handle. Maybe because I am trying to do my best to raise children who are well-behaved in libraries and my efforts went unappreciated that morning. I don't know... there really was no reason for me to cry about it, but I did. I was so hurt and wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. I ended up waiting outside on the sidewalk with my perfectly quiet children while my friend finished up. Also, the fact that I went the extra distance and prepped a bottle so as not to cause any problems breastfeeding is ironic. Turns out a rattle is more upsettting! Next time I'll just go ahead and nurse during story time if need be.
This won't prevent me from going back to the library in the future, though, especially since I did nothing wrong. I also won't remove that rattle from Linc's car seat because it is the only toy he currently responds positively to and I need it to soothe him. It's not easy for me to get the kids ready to goby myself every day and to get places on time, and I don't need to have people at my destination making me feel badly for being there. Especially when we're behaving appropriately and utilizing services as they are intended.
And even if my kids had been crying, so what? Kids do that sometimes. In the children's section of the library it should be expected the noise level may not be ideal at all times. Hopefully when we go back next week to redeem some of Aspen's reading points we'll have a better experience.
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