Belle of the Ball

When you don’t have a sitter, either you do not go or the MilBrat has to come along.

We had an all-ranks ball last week and Baby Lilah Margaret was the belle of the ball.  She was very well-behaved in her wrap (pic after the jump) during the ball.  The only time she threw a fit was when I tried to put her in her infant car seat for a nap.  Of course, this was right during the Brigade Commander’s speech.


I hurried her out and she calmed right down.  She was fine for the rest of the evening.  The Battalion Commander at least appreciated her attendance.  Today DH brought home an Easter bunny for Baby Diva, courtesy of the Colonel.

I wasn’t sure about bringing her but Daddy wanted us there.  Being far away from family, I never managed to find a sitter.  Lilah was born with a heart defect so for the first five months I couldn’t leave her with anyone.  Now that she has had her operation and healed, we only have a couple of months left here.  The people I trust are generally also on the guest list.  I told DH that I would just stay home, but he insisted it would be appropriate and it really did work out fine.

Has anyone ever done this before?

About the Author

Molly Pitcher

Molly Pitcher is a past SpouseBUZZ blogger.

  • I’ve been to many balls where people brought babies less than a year old ( I think it’s kind of an unwritten rule that they can’t be older than 12 months). There is nothing like a baby to brighten the mood!

  • Good point, Jan–Miss Lilah is 7 months old and almost exclusively nursing (except for half a serving of baby food every night the last two weeks). So, she pretty much comes everywhere with me.

  • cool! i might be doing this at the milbloggers conference!

  • airforcewife

    We have also done this with our children. After a year of age, there’s nearly always a teenager who is sitting for a few different attending families.
    As military families, adapting is what we do best, right?

  • Wow, she looks so cute! I am glad that you got to go to the ball together, and that Lilah was so well behaved.
    It was very sweet of the Colonel to send along an easter bunny for her!

  • I am so happy you shared! I’ve thought about doing this, but always talked myself out of it. We never have sitters, it’s hard to leave an infant who won’t sleep with a teenager for 5 hours! And it must be universal that all the other mom-friends we have are always invited to the same gatherings! I think I’m going to post about this, as well, and link to you . . . you go, mom! (And Dad!)

  • Shanna

    Just a suggestion for your hubby to take up the chain. Where we are stationed, any time my husband’s squadron has a dining out or a ball, they work with a sister (brother?) squadron to work out free babysitting. The squadron will rent another conference room at the hotel (or wherever the event is held) for the kids. The volunteers from the other squadron will bring snacks, dvd players, crafts, etc. They nametag all of the kids coming in and the kids have a blast!! It’s nice for us, too, because we enjoy grown up time, the babysitting is free and the kids are just a few steps away, we can check in anytime we want. When our sister squadron has a function, we do the same for them. It makes it so much easier to participate in squadron functions this way.

  • Shanna–That is a good suggestion and one we tried to work for FRG meetings during deployment, but for some reason just never happened.
    However, even so close by I would not feel comfortable leaving a baby under 1 with someone I don’t know, especially if there is a big group of kids of various ages. Over 1 yr., though, I think you have a great set-up going on and it is an excellent suggestion to share.

  • Kali G.

    I would never bring a baby to a ball. It’s an inappropriate place for a child.
    Glad it worked out for you.

  • Kali G.–I wonder what exactly you feel makes it inappropriate for an in-arms baby?

  • Kali G.

    A ball is a formal dining out. Format events are for adults. There is adult conversation, drinking, occassional rowdiness, dancing, etc. My guess is that while those around you seemed unbothered by it, they were just being polite.

  • Kali G – Given the other commenters, I do not guess you are right about the majority view point. Out of 7, 5 think it is fine, 1 offers another suggestion but does not weigh in, and the other person is you–but we really wouldn’t know unless we surveyed people at a ball. I do know that in this case, the commander was pleased to see her there. Dr. Sears also writes in his book about how his wife once did a similar thing and received very positive feedback from other attendees.
    An infant strapped to the chest of an adult is really not bothering anyone else; I would wager that the vast majority of people never even noticed she was there.
    I have seen children at formal events such as weddings.
    The length of one’s dress does not make an event appropriate or inappropriate for children. I fail to see how dancing is inappropriate for a 7 month old. As far as the drinking, I can assure you Lilah had nothing stronger than the usual breastmilk and she has been around people who are having some adult beverages before.
    Rowdiness usually does not occur until after the senior officers have left and certainly we left well before then–anything one would do in front of one’s commander’s wife is probably also appropriate in front of a 7 month old who doesn’t understand the “adult” content anyway.
    There is also a general distinction between a babe “in arms” and a child who is able to run around and get into and cause trouble.
    Thank you for sharing your opinion, though, I will have to disagree.

  • Kali G

    I concur – we will just have to agree to disagree.
    Your data is rather skewed, however, so to say that the majority view is yours is not correct. Sure, the majority of those who commented here think it’s fine, but that certainly represents far from the general majority.
    I’m not sure why you felt the need to point out that your child wasn’t drinking alcohol. The sarcasm was not necessary.

  • Kali- That was my point. You were speaking without any knowledge about a group of people you have never heard from when you said, “My guess is that while those around you seemed unbothered by it, they were just being polite.”
    You are of course entitled to your opinion, but you shouldn’t project it onto others.
    I admit at first I wasn’t sure myself, but I can’t find any reason–you brought up a few possibilities, such as alcohol, but I just don’t see what they have to do with a baby’s presence. If you take your baby out to a restaurant, he or she is in the presence of people drinking. My “sarcasm” was merely intended to point out that unless the baby is directly affected by the alcohol, its mere presence does not make bringing a baby inappropriate.

  • Nikki B.

    I have to concur with Kali G in the statement that a formal ball is an inappropriate place for a child, regardless of the age. Perhaps it was not an issue in this case due to the previous health conditions of your child. It seems an inappropriate place for a child as it would be for one to bring their baby to a business meeting. I would think that many commands steer away from this in general, as I did not see any infants at the USMC birthday ball this past year; however, I could be mistaken.
    I’m not looking for any harsh comments in response nor am I trying to criticize others, I am just expressing my point of you as I respect yours.

  • Nikki–No harsh comment. But it seems as if others have seen it before. So, again, we would have to do a more extensive survey to know for sure.
    I do think you have to take into account not only a child’s prior medical history–but if a child is exclusively nursing. Infants under 1 belong with well-known caretakers (as opposed to more casual babysitters), especially if that caretaker is their sole source of nutrition.
    I think our society used to, and others still do, recognize this. I am sad that we have gotten away from that.
    To me, the word “inappropriate” is a judgement, not really just a disagreement. It also implies that someone’s experience was lessened, whether it be the baby’s or another attendee’s.

  • kywrite

    I think every woman who has been a milspouse for a significant length of time has been in this impossible position — go to the function with the baby or don’t go at all, miss the face time, and disappoint the husband. If the child is in no danger, and especially if the husband’s getting a special award or honor, I think any “inappropriateness” would be forgiven by the many other military members and spouses in attendance.
    Me, I’d just gush over a baby that I didn’t have to take care of when it started fussing during a speech. And knowing that this child has had health issues in the past — that no doubt everyone in the unit was aware of — would make it a very special thing that the mom chose to share her with everyone else in this way. Even if it was just out of necessity.
    Instead of judging, why don’t we loosen up and recognize that this is just one of those milspouse situations where we all have to make do? Military functions are not like civilian equivalents, no matter how we try to make them that way. Few civilians have to worry about whether they’ll see the husband alive after his next business trip, or whether this could be the last time he’ll see his son or daughter. When you live so close to the edge, all the time, children take on a different meaning.

  • ArmyWife_Infantryman

    The balls I went to were so boring I would have welcomed the distraction of a baby to smile at. I also have a nephew that was born with a bad heart and has had several heart surgeries and finally a heart transplant 3 years ago. He is now 16 and doing great. You can’t always find babysitters that will watch a baby with those high risk problems.
    One of the balls we went to they had a room set up with childcare providers from the daycare center on post. They brought portable cribs, toys, and activities for the children to do. I was one of those workers at other events and got paid my hourly pay for those events. Not every post does this however, but would be something a family support group might check into for future events. I know the parents got it free so I think the battalion paid for that childcare which was usually 2-3 hours and number of workers depended on how many kids were coming.

  • Mary

    I am late to this game but I find that the OP is being extremely pretentious…not surprising considering that she is an officer’s wife(more on that in a sec).
    I was a military spouse for eight years…a lowly enlisted spouse at that. I knew where my children belonged and where they did not. The FRG Holiday Party? Yes. Formals? No. There is a time and place for children and a military ball is not it.
    Sometimes, due to logisitics, you miss out on special events. I missed out on plenty due to deployments, lack of help, late hours being worked,etc. It happens.It’s part of military life.
    The guests at the ball were most likely being polite…but I guarantee you, OP, you were the probably a hot topic of conversation post-formal…and chances are…what was said was probably pretty nasty.
    Now…back to my comment about officers’ wives…this is exactly the type of behavior I would expect from an officer’s wife. “Oh, boo hoo, I can’t possibly leave my chid so instead of being an adult and having consideration for others, I am going to bring my child to an adult event without any regard for anyone else..because I am an officer’s wife and no one would dare say anything to moi about it.” This is why officers’ wives are so disliked. They come across as self-centered and, quite frankly, as dumb.
    OP…I don’t know if your DH plans to be career military..but if he does…please go out and buy some commmon sense along with your Polish pottery and your Longaberger baskets. You need it.

  • Julie

    I can appreciate Mary’s comment (as I am also a spouse of an enlisted soldier of 11 years) but I can’t say I would agree on generalizing about ALL officers’ spouses. I have many girl friends who are officer’s spouses; they are not all the same, as the enlisted spouses aren’t. I would say however that there are double standards and if a PVT’s (or maybe even SGT’s) wife came to a ball with a young one strapped to her hip, they would not get the same enthusiasm and appreciation of her attendance. Instead, she would get looks, and she would have been talked about behind her back (as I’m pretty confident the author of this blog was). And c’mon, let’s be real, who’s going to tell higher ranking officer’s spouse that she is being inappropriate? Not even the Battalion Commander.

  • Retired Navy wife.

    I fully agree and couldn’t have said it better. There is a place for children. For those wifes who can’t wait for a special evening out with Husband. especially after spending alot on a gown, flowers.. and shoes. would want to enjoy their time with out the wails of a child. I suggest, put alittle extra cash away, pay for a family member.. or sitter to babysit.