My baby boy arrived more than a year ago. It was 4:19 a.m. on a Saturday morning, to be precise. He was a strong little beastie, right from the start.
He has chubby legs and squishy arms, dimpled elbows and a jiggly belly. He has soft skin and sharp teeth. He has red hair that is growing asymmetrically from that swirly-point at the top of his skull. I can tell you about my baby, and most other babies are similar. (But let the record show, they are not THE BEST BABY (TM).) When he giggles, I do whatever it takes to repeat the sound. Popping bubble wrap, making weird noises, crawling under blankets, being smothered by a chubby babe who is trying to say, “Tickle tickle!”
He walks on two feet now. Sometime around 9 months, he started standing regularly next to furniture and taking a step or two. By 11 months, he was getting braver and taking a few steps away from furniture and away from guiding hands. By 12 months, he was toddling around fearlessly and falling occasionally on his bum with a gentle, diaper-padded thud.
And yet, even after a year, the permanence of motherhood is still occasionally unnerving. Gone are the days of leisurely reading on the sofa, strolling around a grocery store aimlessly with two free hands, and leaving steaming hot beverages on low tables.
Also, holy moly, the vigilance required for these early years. The electrical sockets, the books he might destroy, the breakable things you didn’t even realize a baby would grab-and-smash. (For example, a stoneware dog food bowl.) Every item in your home is a candidate for eating, climbing, carrying, opening, poking, or drumming.
Some people call it “the longest shortest time.” And other people call it “the hardest job you’ll ever have.” Cashiers ask how old he is, and I say A YEAR now. “Enjoy him while you can! They’re so fun at that age,” the sales clerks cheer at me. Already, I look at new parents with fresh-from-the-womb infants and think, “How much has changed! How big my boy has gotten!” Photos of pregnant me seem like an alternate universe. The girth of that belly! The quiet of baby-free life!
I’m not going to lie. I miss sleep. Other things I miss: Nights out with no babysitting plan. Drinking more than two beers (or wine) at a sitting. Wearing sweaters without fear of getting covered in baby crust. (Baby crust is usually food, but occasionally slobber, boogies, and other mystery substances of parenthood.)
My dog suffers. Her walks are short and efficient, though she is getting older. She tolerates baby pokes and pets, squeals and squeaks, and being walked indoors by a toddling goofball. On the flipside, she eats more table food than ever. Someone keeps dropping food from his chair, and the floor is an endless source of doggy snacks at meal times.
Things that multiply mysteriously: Toys. Clothes. Crumbs. I blink and new plastic objects appear in my living room. Each season brings, essentially, a new wardrobe of sizes and layers. Socks are paired successfully twice, at the most. The boy despises wearing all socks and shoes, and he disposes of these torture devices as quickly as you can say boo.
He says “mama” in many ways, meaning different things. He mimics noises and teases new words often now. Something like “dada,” as well as variations of “George” (for Curious George), “fish” (when eating Goldfish crackers), and “tickle” (when tickling people).
Motherhood is enormous joy and frequent naps. Motherhood is MOAR COFFEE. Motherhood is diapers. Burp rags. Neck bites. Food-crusted onesies. A bizarre satisfaction when baby boy cries at my morning departure. Guilt about diaper rash. But the LOVE. It’s tough to beat. It’s everything I hoped and more.
But send coffee. Please.