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Leave the Baby, Take the Popcorn

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by guest blogger Renee James, humorist and blogger

Let me start by saying I had no idea. But when I googled "mommy taking baby to movies," the search returned 240,000,000 results. (Fun Fact: When I googled "mommy reading to baby," I got 23,500,000 hits. Shall I go on?)

Why would I google "mommy taking baby to movies"? Well, I wanted to see if the baby who cried and fussed through 15 minutes or more of Gone Girl on Saturday night was an anomaly, or if this circumstance is a fresh hell of the 21 century. Turns out it's the latter.

Can we take just a few seconds to examine this? A mother, a baby--more than likely a firstborn, with all the attendant awe and fascination that makes every single moment of new parenthood precious. That magical pocket of time when it strikes you that no one has ever been a mother before you and no one has ever given birth to a child as gifted and talented as yours--I've been there. I get that. I do. I don't get this.

Does anyone remember when we called becoming a parent "life-changing"? Accompanying the unconditional and overwhelming love one feels for a child, parents made inevitable adjustments--some might even call them sacrifices--to accommodate the "new normal." In other words, it ain't all about you anymore. It ain't even all about you and your partner. There is an entirely new person in the house who will require change, compromises, and decisions. Someone who elicits emotions and actions you may find absolutely unfamiliar and, truthfully, not entirely delightful, at least some of the time.

Maybe that "life-changing" notion has gone the way of the VCR, at least in terms of entertainment options. A number of websites now help new moms find ways to celebrate the miracle of life--yes, I'm talking newborns here--and fully embrace their new roles as mother, all without ever having to miss the new Ben Affleck film in the theater. (Note: By contrast, I couldn't find any "daddy and baby" movie sites.) Whether you want a kid-friendly theater with showings specifically for moms and babies or you choose to attend a movie any time of day or night, you can find one that suits you.

A couple of my favorite quotes and stories from the new mom advice sites I visited:

"My husband and I have made this our 'date afternoon' where we can take our son with us, but have fun and not have to worry about finding a sitter." This is not a date. This is a family outing, which is lovely, but taking your baby to the movies with you is still a bad idea.

"I have been going since my son was 8 weeks old. He falls asleep, and I get to enjoy some grown-up time with my girlfriends." If your newborn/pre-toddler/toddler son is with you, it's not grown-up time. And taking him to movies with you is a bad idea.

"We sure love our DVRs and Netflix, but refuse to give up on going to the theater." Who said you had to give it up? Oh, boy. I can't wait to see what else you refuse to give up. By the way, taking babies to movies is a bad idea.

Or this:

"Even if you cannot find a mom and baby movie in your area, consider taking a risk on an 11 a.m. showing. The volume at the theater is much louder than any grunting or fussing that tiny babies do." It wasn't louder at Gone Girl last Saturday.

Look, I support mothers who nurse their babies in public and feel empathy for families flying with fussy babies. God bless and good luck to you. But please, please let the rest of us enjoy an evening of quiet in the movie theater. Do me a favor and google the word babysitter. Any questions?

Renee A. James works at Rodale Inc. and also wrote an award-winning op-ed column for The Morning Call, the Allentown, PA, newspaper, for almost 10 years. Her essays were included in the humor anthology, 101 Damnations: A Humorists' Tour of Personal Hells (Thomas Dunne Books, 2002), and are also found online at Jewish World Review and The Daily Caller. She invites you to Like her Facebook page, where she celebrates--and broods about--life on a regular basis, mostly as a voice in the crowd that shouts, "Really? You're kidding me, right?" (or wants to, anyway), and she welcomes your suggestions, comments, and feedback to the mix.

For more from Maria Rodale, visit