Babies. You’ve got to love them. They are round, soft and delicious. It’s probably the only time in your life that you can never be too fat.
At dinner one night, with a friend who is expecting her first child, the conversation obviously turned to babies and her worries about parenting, you know, the right way.
She also woke up in the middle of the night last week and was suddenly struck by the fact that there is no going back – she can’t undo this baby-to-be situation. I reassured her that most mothers reach this gripping moment –of-truth when they are close to giving birth (she’s two weeks away from having her baby), and that it will pass. Well, actually, it might re-appear as my own worries did, during Labor. I distinctly remember being in excruciating pain and saying to my mother, who was at my bedside while my husband suited up in his scrubs, “I want to go home – I don’t want to do this anymore!!”…
Too late, Mom said and as she smoothed my forehead while reassuring me that yes, I would live through this experience and began citing statistics on the high level of survival rates for mothers-to-be and live births today – it was after all the 1990s not the 1790’s.
O.K., I have to be honest – on this topic, I have a lot to say.
First I reassured her that she may not fall head over heels with her newborn the moment they meet. Hello! I’ve just met a small little alien, who has seemingly rather long fingers that prod at me in a slow steady movement. This same small creature is snorting at me with a scrunched up expression, possible cone-shaped head and is fairly red in the face. The big news? I get to take this small creature home with me – in fact, the hospital insists upon it. And so the invasion of bottles, suces and diapers begins.
Where is that cherubic baby I keep seeing on all those jars of baby food? Now I am most definitely a romantic person, but I’m also a Taurus – very grounded in reality. My firstborn was pink, round and blonde – Gerber all the way – luck of the draw. My second child was quite frankly, well – redder. And while my husband and I gazed adoringly at her wondering who she resembled, it dawned on me that she looked a lot like my doctor’s middle aged nurse…no baby food jars here. She became a most beautiful and intriguing baby a month later, being born with a full head of hair (she had her first haircut at 4 months old) that fell in soft waves around her round sweet old-world face. People would stop me constantly. They would peer into her stroller and they would comment, first on the hair, and then say “she has an old soul.” It was the way she met your eyes and smiled her gentle smile. My third child – also on the rouge side – I can’t remember if she was really cute or not – we were just so relieved at her arrival after such a treacherous pregnancy.
It takes some time to truly fall in love with your baby – you need to spend some time gazing into each other’s eyes, you need to know the impression her tiny body makes in your arms. Then suddenly it hits you. You are in love. Watch out – because your next step is the parental progress is, Tigress!
By now your child is entering toddler hood, the hormones have well worn off and you are feeling, for all intensive purposes, back to normal. Actually, the truth is that you will never be normal again, because now you’re a mother. Just accept it.
You are in love with this baby and whoever comes between pure happiness and your child is marked. You’ll probably first notice it when you are at the park (this is the stage in your life when you like the park). Another toddler throws sand at your toddler’s face and makes him cry and suddenly, without warning, a volcano of emotion erupts inside of you and you sprint over in Olympic time to your child’s side. Calmly, you tell the two toddlers to play nicely and that throwing sand can hurt someone’s eyes, but inside, you are screaming for some kind of park police to come and take this other bullying toddler away in tiny handcuffs. This is the kind of crazy stuff you feel when you’re a mother – and by the way – those feelings do not change when your child is seventeen. There are a few teachers and kids that are walking around with smoking holes in the backs of their head from my searing glare.
Then, there is the way you are so completely moved by the small stuff – if you are lucky enough to be paying attention. The concern and care your pre-schooler shows another child who is feeling sad, the sheer joy and surprise on his face when you let him run through the sprinkler fully clothed…and the laughter – all that giggling and laughter.
It’s the most incredible music that you will ever hear, and it can never be loud enough.
Or the way your heart moves up into your throat as you watch a great group of teenagers dancing all together – same giggling and laughter playing in your ears. That’s just some of the magic you experience when you have the privilege of sharing your life with a child.
Potty training, Bottles and Suces. Let’s look at those, shall we? Potty training – when parents tell me they have “just started potty training” they already sound like they are making excuses for their child’s “imperfection” at a skill. A skill that they all manage in time. I’ve come to the belief that potty training is one of the few things that kids can decide to do, eventually, on their own. You are the one who decides on when and what they’ll eat, you decide on bedtime (I feel another chapter coming on with this topic) and for a long time, you even decide what they’ll wear. Potty training and making them “go” at a specific time…yeah right! “I’m going take charge of this one!” Says Junior.
Relax, I tell parents, he’ll learn. No one goes down the aisle in diapers…well, not unless you are terribly elderly and on a senior tour to Vegas decide to do something crazy at one of those Elvis chapels.
Bottles and Suces (and Blankies, for that matter). Once again, no one walks down
the aisle with any of those items (however, some have been know to tuck a well placed micky in their pocket, but that’s another story) or has to pull out their pacifier to make their Valedictorian speech upon graduation. Also – on the Suce, Blankie issue; First of all, it’s often some other “concerned” party asking about a child’s habit, not the parent themselves – because let’s face it, anything that makes your child truly happy and cozy plus keeps him from screaming in the supermarket, is O.K. with you! I always ask the these “well-meaning” folks one question – what are you doing in your bedroom at night that you don’t want anyone to know about? Shuts them up every time.
These are baby pieces on the board game of life, people. Eventually no child wants to seen holding them – even in the privacy of their rooms. It’s called growing up.