It sounds kind of mean, doesn’t it? I‘m not a baby person. It’s like admitting you’re not a “puppy person”.
Nonetheless, I’m coming to terms with this aspect of my being. I can finally admit, now that my child is a fully certified toddler, that I am not really a baby person.
It would appear as if we’re officially out of the Baby Woods around here. Last weekend, we had one of those amazing days. We went for a hike outside the city. Callum managed most of it by himself, lifting his little bow legs over roots and stopping every few metres to smell the flowers. Literally. When we got home, we ate the baked beans I’d put in slow cooker that morning, Callum greedily spooning up more than his share, with nary a need for me to puree a thing. He splashed in the tub for half an hour after supper, playing intensely with his toy boats. When it was time for bed, we gave him a bottle, put him in his crib, bade him goodnight, and closed the door. He cooed for another twenty minutes or so before drifting off to sleep. There was enough evening left for John and I to watch a movie we rented, and we actually got through the whole thing without falling asleep.
I know, don’t hate us because our life is so perfect!
“Can we just adopt a two-year-old next time?” John asked. “You know, skip all the other stuff?”
He remembers all that other stuff. Most of the time I forget it. I call it Mamanesia. Because if we remembered, we probably wouldn’t go through it more than once. (John’s elephant memory is one of the main reasons for Callum still being an only child, by the way.)
I had a long conversation with a good friend a few days ago, who was fresh home from the hospital with a new baby girl.
It helped to jog my memory.
“I’ve been creeping through people’s Facebook pictures,” she confessed. “just so I can see evidence of them functioning. I’m like, look! They left the house! They’re not wearing pajamas! They’re not crying!”
In many ways, those early baby days were a bit like high school. Do what you have to do to survive. Don’t look like you’re trying too hard. And feel sweet relief when it’s over.
Back in the Newborn Days when I admitted that I was finding it all a bit tough, some well-meaning people would say, “Oh, but you have to enjoy it while it lasts! This time is so precious! They’re so precious!” This just added to the guilt, and made me feel compelled to fake joy when some days, I was feeling none of it.
I agree that babies are pretty endearing, and smell awfully good, but I never cited “I love babies!” as one of my reasons to have one, and have rarely been found begging to hold someone’s newborn. Every time Callum mounted another obstacle of babyhood (holding his head up! sitting! feeding himself!) I would clap and cheer at his accomplishment, yes, but also (secretly) because each milestone signified another step away from babyhood.
I’m not saying that babies aren’t fun. Actually, I am. They’re not really fun. Yes, they are worth it, but I wouldn’t describe a six-week-old infant as a whole lot of fun. I’ve discussed this before, with reluctance. Because it’s generally an unpopular viewpoint. It was with great relief that I read this column by the fabulous Alice Bradley, who describes the process of watching her son grow as getting to know a cast of characters rather than just one person. Alice confesses that of all the characters she got to know, that infant character is the one she misses the least. Thanks, Alice. One more member for Team Non-Baby-Person.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but I would like to explain this to my wonderful Facebook-creeping friend and all those other new parents sitting at home with the newest character in their lives, wondering WHAT HAVE WE DONE??!!:
- They get cuter. I know, you’re saying BUT MY BABY IS CUTE NOW! He is. Sort of. To you. But I mean he starts getting cute to other people.
- You know that kid who can’t hold up their head? Soon they’ll be able to crawl across the floor, go down the slide at the playground, and wrap their arms around your neck out of sheer love. And that little mouth that can barely manage latching on most days will soon be saying mama. It might even say “please” and “thank you for all you have done for me” too, but that’s not something I can guarantee.
- If you’re breastfeeding, you won’t have to do it 20 times a day until you give it up. It gets way easier (read this post for details). Also, your cup size will stop increasing by 4 letters between Oprah and dinnertime.
- You will reach the point where leaving the house is actually preferable to staying home (some days). You might even–gasp–be able to leave the house WITHOUT THE BABY. Stop telling me to shut up! It’s true!
- I promise, you will sleep again.
And hey, of you are one of those lucky people sitting at home with your baby who never cries and who sleeps all the time and is perfect in every way*, it gets even better.
* I don’t expect there are very many of those people reading this blog, but I have to be inclusive just in case.