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Tired Mom or Bored Babysitter?

I was trying not to stare, but I kept peering over the top of my book anyhow. Poolside at the condo where we stayed in Orlando this week, I’d spotted a baby pull himself up to try to see over the edge of the Pack-N-Play his mother had put him in. At least I think she was his mother. It was hard to tell by her apparent disinterest in the baby whether she was a tired mom or a bored babysitter. It was clear, though, that she was trying to rest on a lounge chair a few feet away, but her three-year-old kept interrupting. The baby wasn’t making any noise, as though he knew it was no use anyhow, and soon he gave up, choosing instead to look at me, because at least the lady behind the book would wave.

When I heard the woman-who-might-be-a-mother speak, I realized I might be watching a cultural difference. Maybe in Britain mothers don’t dote on their babies quite so much, like the American mothers making teachable moments in the pool. Or maybe she was just exhausted from dragging two kids around Disney in ninety-degree heat while still used to another time zone. No matter. It fascinated me either way.

Nobody else had brought the Pack-N-Plays out of their condo bedroom closets and down to the pool. The other moms of babies seemed to realize that these were meant to serve as cribs, not poolside baby pens. The other moms were being good mommies. The lady with the baby in the Pack-N-Play was, well, I’m not sure.

Eventually, the woman with the baby and the three-year-old left the pool, though I didn’t get to see them go. I was too busy going down the slide with my kids, content that our Pack-N-Play would stay in the closet while we were in Orlando. We didn’t need it, either for sleeping or for penning in babies. And that made me feel like a lucky mommy.

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