When our firstborn was an infant in the winter of 2010, my husband and I had a bad case of cabin fever. In an attempt to cure ourselves, we declared a new snow day tradition: any time there was a big snow storm, we would bundle up our family and trudge through the snow drifts to a nearby restaurant to dine together in all our snowpants-wearing, hat-haired, rosy-cheeked glory. We would celebrate the weather instead of hide from it, like good Iowans should!

We live in a fabulous eastside Iowa City neighborhood, within walking distance of several eating establishments. It has been over two years since the tradition began, and so far, all of the restaurants we have tried have been warm and welcoming to our snow-covered family, and we’ve made some wonderful memories. However, our most recent snow adventure was not one of those wonderful memories, (through no fault of the restaurant we chose!) We had decided to head to El Dorado in Sycamore Mall. Mexican food is my husband’s favorite, my daughter eats rice and beans like it’s her job, and I would prefer all of my food to be covered in queso dip. Easy choice! My daughter and husband excitedly tromped off through the snow, while I followed behind, wearing our baby boy in a sling under my coat. The wind whipped our faces with ice and sleet, but we would not be deterred!

We arrived at El Dorado and were seated at a comfy booth, where we snuggled in and waited for our food to arrive. Now, newborn babies have sophisticated radar that can sense a mother’s comfort, and alerts them any time a mother is about to enjoy any of the following: a shower, a bath, a nap, a book, a t.v. show, a massage, exercise, the internet,  conversation,  sitting comfortably,  or, most importantly, a hot meal of food. Any mother can attest to this. Well, my baby boy’s radar detected my queso-covered chori-pollo before it even hit the table. He started crying.

In 20 seconds flat, he wasn’t just crying. Oh no, this was a full-on babysplosion.

Lianna Babysplosion 4-8-13

I frantically started trying to remove him from my sling, barked at my husband to get my nursing cover, and began fumbling with my clothes in an attempt to find a way to nurse him through all of my layers of outer wear. I bounced him on my shoulder, patted his back, rattled his favorite toy in front of his face, and shushed in his ear, and then repeated the cycle. Nothing was working.

My face turned beat red, I was instantly hot and sweaty, and WHY was I wearing this many clothes!? My tiny little cherub was screeching like a pterodactyl and ruining everyone’s meal in a half-mile radius. Everyone in the restaurant was staring at me and frowning through mouths full of carne asada. That perfect family with perfect children at the table across from ours was judging my parenting skills for not being able to control my children! That grandma in the corner was rolling her eyes at me for breastfeeding in public! That young couple was gloating about their superior decision to leave their children at home with a babysitter instead of bringing them in public to ruin other people’s meals! I was being attacked from all sides.

Or was I?

Every mother has faced her own babysplosion at some time or another. Every mother has found herself in a public place, in front of a full and silent audience, when her tiny offspring suddenly explodes into a swarm of screeching pterodactyls. And if this is true, if ALL of us have been there, than how could it be that a restaurant full of mothers would be pointing their fingers in judgment at me? I guess I can’t know for sure, but maybe those mothers weren’t judging at all.

Maybe those perfect parents next to us were actually thanking their lucky stars that their children were distracted by the soccer game on TV long enough for them to enjoy their meal for once. Maybe that grandmotherly woman was actually rolling her eyes because she was remembering a time when nursing women were made to feel ashamed and pressured to hide behind closed doors when they fed their babies. Maybe she admired my courage and was secretly cheering me on! And that young couple? Maybe that pained look in their eyes was because even though they were out on a date for the first time in three months, the sound of my baby’s cries made them miss their own sweet baby at home.

In the end, I can’t truly know what other people are thinking when my baby explodes in public. But I’m going to choose to believe that other mamas have my back. We mothers need to stick together, cheer each other on when we’re struggling, and all band together to keep fighting the good fight. Because no one can better understand what we’re going through than another mother who has been there. So next time you see a mama with a screeching swarm of pterodactyls in her arms, give her a thumbs up, or a smile, or a jumbo blended margarita with extra lime. You know, whatever the situation calls for.

Side note: I didn’t come to this grand realization while I was in the restaurant, of course. I had plenty of time to mull it over once I was home, with my kids in bed, eating my to-go container of delicious chori pollo from El Dorado. Better late than  never!

So Mamas, share YOUR best public babysplosion moment!

Lianna is a homesteading mama of three: a sparkly seven-year-old daughter, a joyful five-year-old boy, and a confident three-year-old boy. After graduating from the University of Iowa’s college of education, she started Wondergarten Early Enrichment Home, a multi-age, play-based early childhood program. A self-proclaimed Queen Dabbler, she has a long list of hobbies (from gardening and canning to sewing and painting), and doesn’t mind being only mediocre at all of them. She lives with her husband, mother, three kiddos, dog, cat, rabbits, dwarf goats, and chickens on an acreage in the country. The Cornally family spends their time talking about education, learning how to grow and preserve their own food, and romping around in their woods.


  1. Still best picture in history. I have tooo many babysplosion moments to count. Sigh….I did tell a mom of twin 3 year old boys at daycare who was also carrying an infant in a carseat the other day that she rocked….keep on rockin mama. That’s all I can do. I also purposely DON’T turn around and look at people’s kids who squeal in church? I feel like that’s a small favor. We must stick together. 🙂 I love your winter tradition. I want queso for breakfast now.

  2. LOVE this so much! As moms we have all felt like this, too many times to count. We worry that it reflects to others what kind of mothers we are. When in truth…every mother shares in these types of moments. It is so wonderful to know that as Mommas, we unconditionally support one another. We will have good days and not so good ones, but good or bad they are all uniquely wonderful and should be cherished.
    Love this blog already!

    • Thanks, Kimberly! I know that I’m going to go out of my way to let other mamas know they have my support, especially in difficult public moments. Happy you are here and enjoying the blog!

  3. I have the best picture of both my kids screaming and me laughing, holding them both, in a mall food court. My daughter was about 4 months and my son had just turned 2. My sister snapped the picture. I think others were looking at our kidspolsion but laughed along with my sister and I as she documented it. Now that they are 17 months and a little over 3, we definitely still have some family meltdown moments but they are less and shorter. I think learning to laugh during those times served me well… hubby and I have started talking about baby #3 and I joke that I will need a picture with all three of them screaming in the mall food court.

    • Humor! For sure. Good luck with adding a third kiddo! I bet you won’t have to wait too long before your three little ones explode at the same time! Just a hunch… 🙂

  4. Great post, Lianna. I, too, have many babysplosion moments…too many to count, considering I have three children four and under! BUT…last Friday I had a LITERAL babysplosion. My kids had a terrible stomach bug all week, but on Friday morning I thought they were doing well enough to go to our weekly art class. Boy, was I WRONG. As we pulled into the community center, my two year old says “Mommy, I’m poopy”. He was COVERED in poop. His clothes, all the way down to his socks, his coat, his everything…I cleaned him up, put on new clothes (ALWAYS carry extra clothes, no matter how old they are!), and headed in for class. About four minutes after sitting down to their first art project, my daughter (8 months) proceeds to follow in her brother’s footsteps and blow out her entire diaper and pants. Thank GOODNESS my dad just happened to have the day off and had decided to join the grandkids for art class. Otherwise I would have been sitting there alone in my van, crying, covered in poop. Ah, motherhood!

    • Sara, Noooooo! The only thing worse than a babysplosion is a poopsplosion! That’s a whole other kind of art. Ha! I would have handed you a maragarita AND a pack of wipes. 🙂

      • Haha thanks! Oh, and I wanted to say ditto to the church comment…NOT turning around is a great show of respect to other moms. It’s like saying “we’ve all been there, it’s no big deal”. Love it.

  5. The only babyplosion I vividly recall was one that worked in our favor about 24 years ago. We were in need of a new car, and our firstborn was under a year old, completely dependent on me for his food supply, so he must’ve been pretty young, prior to any solid food supplements. My husband & I walked into a car dealership in winter knowing it was the best time to make a deal while snow was on the ground. We test drove a car, had done our research, and were ready to see what the dealer was willing to do for us.

    I never went anywhere without making sure our son had been cared for up to the last second before we left the house, knowing peace never lasted long enough. Everything was going well until the salesman decided to play the disappearing game and “go talk to the manager” about our offer. He disappeared for a long time, and came back to tell us his manager needed us to be serious about the offer. We stood firm on our offer, and told him we could keep shopping elsewhere if they weren’t interested. (Back to the manager/breakroom he went, repeatedly.) Our son had started to squirm, and then it quickly went out of control…. I knew the game the dealership was playing, and my son was NOT going to wait for his next feeding. The salesman must have assumed I would whip out a bottle, but I mentioned we did not rely on those. I also did not have a blanket, because at that time, I relied on a private room to nurse in. Since no private room was anywhere to be found, I became very agitated with the salesman and told my husband they didn’t want our business, so it was time to go. We turned and walked, screaming son in tow, and suddenly the salesman was chasing us out in the parking lot saying his manager has reconsidered. We ended up with the car we wanted at the price we were willing to pay, but I vowed never to go back for service there or anything else again. We signed paperwork quicker than any other customer they’d had it there, I’m guessing. My son had a pair of lungs that no one could deny. My satisfaction was knowing that they got their payback after making our shopping experience miserable. They sold a car that day, and I never took it back to them. Mom’s everywhere sympathize with a crying mom/child or child/mom, whichever order that comes in. Even a mom with 24 yrs. experience on you!

    • Debbie, that is so awesome! I had never considered how a babysplosion might work in my favor! You have my wheels turning…where else could this benefit me?? 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  6. I’ll never forget the time Hannah (age 2 1/2) puked on me at Carlos O’Kellys – what seemed like gallons of curdled milk at the time (what is it about the XXL milk at Mexican restaurants?). It was just the two of us and everyone around us just sat and stared at us like we were freaks. To this day I vow to help anyone I see that has a child that pukes on them in public.

  7. I love you, Lianna. Thanks for posting and for making me think about being extra compassionate to moms who are out there doin’ it. I like to think that children are a part of our community and have a right to be wherever their people are. We often repeat Horton, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” I am also going to begin making a conscious effort to assume that the public has my back as you dreamed in your El Derado left-over bliss. I think it would relieve stress that I’m placing on myself which may not even have a reason to exist. Either way, the calmer I am the better I will be to help the situation:) Also, I love the picture of your little babe and your big babe. So funny!

    • Sigh. I LOVE your sentiment that children are members of our community and deserve the right to be with us. A person IS a person, no matter how small…or noisy! 🙂 I love YOU, Katy B! 🙂


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