The Things I Forgot About Babies {Reminders For Care-Takers Who Have Been Out Of The Baby Game For Too Long}

Some people are made for babies. I am not one of them. There has been no harder stage of life for me than when I had mini people in my house. A seeming endless forever of waiting for them to become complete humans*; for vibrant personalities and meaningful conversations and for thinking myself more than a frumpy, bouncing milk machine. It was never a question of loving them or not but there were days {years?} of questioning whether I loved myself...of even knowing myself.
 
The Things I Forgot About Babies {Reminders For Care-Takers Who Have Been Out Of The Baby Game For Too Long} - Alanna Rusnak, SelfBinding Retrospect
 
When my sister contacted me because her daycare provider was down-and-out with a sinus infection I said yes. Monday is my day off. I like her baby. Simple.
 
You often hear how women forget the pain of childbirth the moment they lay their eyes on their baby. That's a load of {ahem} diaper filler. I remember every little bit. Vividly. {Probably because I was awesome at it!} What I did forget was what life with a baby is really like. I have stricken that from my memory like some poison trauma that could destroy me had I hung onto it.
 
Let me be perfectly clear. I love my niece. I love her like heaven loves the stars. I love her pretty blue eyes and her darling giggle and the way her little bum shakes when she tries to crawl. She has my heart in a ninja grip and I'm fully inclined to allow it.
 
BUT babies are WORK!
 
I can't believe I forgot. No wonder I spent the first month of Noa's existence crying.
 
Here is what our Dear Elsie Rose {who just celebrated her first birthday} generously reminded me about babies:
 
They are the most selfish creatures in this or any other universe. She wants a cracker. She wants it now. In fact, she's starving to death and if you don't get her one immediately she'll flat line into the table top. So you get her a cracker. She throws it on the floor. "You numbskull! I wanted a bottle!" {insert raging wail here} She wants a bottle. She wants it now. If you don't deliver said bottle in exactly fifteen seconds she will rip your curtains right off the rod and use them to wipe her nose and smother the cat. So you get her a bottle. She takes one sip and spits milk in your eye. "You numbskull! I just need a nap!" {insert flailing limbs and a mini-fist-punch to the solar plexus here} She wants a nap. She wants it now. She's rubbing and rolling her eyes and if she doesn't get one immediately she'll sob until your heart breaks. So you rock her until she's sleeping and you carefully lay her down. She opens her mouth in a silent, terrifying scream. "You numbskull! I wanted a cracker!" {insert raging wail until your heart breaks here}
 
They think you love doing laundry. If it's not tears or slobber or puke or poop it's snot caked down the entire length of your sleeve. And she does it with a sly little look up at you like "That's right, lady, you've just been boogered! You're welcome!
 
Fifteen pounds is really sixty-seven pounds. Because babies are the most selfish creatures in the world and because I have auntie spoiling privileges and because I can't listen to her scream past the point of that skull vein bulging out, I hold her. And, of course, she snuggles in and proves that I am a fool and she is a genius and she turns those baby-blues on me and smiles a sneaky smile, "I own you, sucka!" while my arms slowly go numb and she turns into an adorable five ton mack truck.
 
The Things I Forgot About Babies {Reminders For Care-Takers Who Have Been Out Of The Baby Game For Too Long} - Alanna Rusnak, SelfBinding Retrospect
 
Diapers. Oh, lordy, I forgot about diapers! I spent eight years changing diapers. Eight! And since the final nappy of 2011 I haven't touched one. Because ew. I hallelujahed that finale like a soul gone to glory and to face it again? Listen, just because I can get a job done doesn't mean I have to like it!
 
Don't make eyes contact! Don't make eye contact! Don't make eye contact! Much like the Baby Philosophy of Peek-A-Boo {if I can't see you, you can't see me} if you avoid eye contact with an almost sleeping or a just-woke-up baby they may think you weren't really there and just drift away into dreams. Unfortunately I forgot this which resulted in a whole lot of screaming things that translated into "Are you kidding me? You're right there! There's no good reason on this earth why you shouldn't be holding me for every moment of this Mommy-forsaken day!"**
 
There are moments when you think if you had one more ounce of love your heart would explode all over the living room wall.  They are powerful creatures. I don't know how they do it. Exhaust you to the end of yourself but somehow wrap you in an understanding of the universe that you just don't get from adults. A little piece of heaven shines through when a baby smiles and so we make fools of ourselves trying desperately to make that happen: silly voices, weird faces, made-up words that have no meaning, tickles and dancing and Sir Mix-a-Lot sing-a-longs.
 
When they finally settle and are peacefully sleeping away the afternoon you miss them. Like a crazy person. Like you left a piece of your soul on the quilt beside them and even though you tiptoe and whisper and turn off the ringer on the phone a big part of you can't wait to be needed again and that's the most confusing, insane, powerful feeling I can't even begin to define. 
 
 
The most rewarding things are sometimes the hardest. That's what makes them precious. Blessings to all the Mommy's and Daddy's out there raising their little ones. Seek joy in every moment. When they're big enough that you can borrow their sweaters you'll miss their sweaty little heads tucked against your neck at 3 am.
 
 
*Yes, of course babies are complete humans. They're also psychological vampires. Tread lightly.
**This post took me four hours to write. Because I was coddling a vampire {who I love more than life} who is now - finally - asleep. And I miss her. Like a crazy person.

 

This post was first shared here.

Alanna Rusnak lives in Southwestern Ontario with her husband, three children, and a cat she's trying hard not to love; blogging the extraordinary at SelfBinding Retrospect.

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