Q: I'm flying with a baby and, three weeks out, am already losing sleep. Any mantra I can use to help me choose her needs instead of others'?
If it helps, I have a hard time in general with crowds and feeling like I'm being evaluated by others.
A: You are being judged, so dress her in her cutest comfortable thing, and take heart that you aren't imagining things.
Kidding, sort of. Yes, people boost their own egos by scrutinizing others, new parents especially, since they're the slowest antelopes in the herd, but here's your mantra: Who cares. Your only duty to strangers is to care for your child as best you can. Since that's what you owe your baby anyway, the strangers are moot points.
There's also this: About three of four American adults are parents, per Gallup, so most fellow passengers probably know exactly how tough this is for you. When decent, informed people see how hard you're trying, they'll give you breaks. The non-decent and ignorant you won't win over, so squander no sleep trying.
When it's all behind you, please consider talking to a good therapist about your, it seems, overactive people-pleasing impulse. Most parents feel the burning stares when their kids cry or act out, but such acute dread as yours suggests public opinion comes with outsize consequences for you. Good counsel might help set you free.