being a mom
10 Truths About Motherhood I’ve Learned From My Baby
If you have a child, then you’re familiar with some version of the following clichÃ©: the days are long, but the months are short. In my case, the days have been especially long, since I had to learn so very, very much about caring for an infant. Prior to the birth of my son, I could count on one hand how many diapers I’d changed. I’d never breastfed or made up songs about tummy time. Fast forward seven months, and I estimate I’ve changed roughly 1,736 diapers and spent about that many hours with a human remora attached to my chest. As for the song, it goes, “It’s time / It’s time for tummy time / Tummy time.” Hey, he seems to like it.
I knew my learning curve would be steep. What I didn’t know was that I’d pick up some profound lessons not only about child-rearing but about life itself.
1. The people who make high-end baby clothes are sadists.
My husband and I were lucky enough to be given tons of hand-me-downs before the birth of our child. We took it all, from onesies to rompers to adorable cardigans with miniature pockets, with no regard for color or cut.
As our son cycled through them, we discovered a fundamental truth about baby clothes: the more designer the label, the less practical the outfit. Holy guacamole! Tiny collars requiring an iron. Wee buttons that have to be done up in order to keep the shirt on his shoulders. Zippers all of three centimeters. The people who designed these clothes must really hate humanity, or at least parents.
2. I’m OK with belly fat.
When I was pregnant, I used to lay in bed (on my side, obv.) and fantasize about running. Long runs in the early morning, the wind in my hair, my sneakers flying along the pavement. Mind you, I hadn’t run since high school. No matter. I fantasized about lightness. I would be fast. My calves would be lithe.
Nowadays, when I lay in bed, I sleep. And when I pinch my belly, or pull it and, ahem, pull it some more, I think about how it stretched to accommodate my baby. Then I let it wobble back into place (more or less) and go grab another Trader Joe’s cookie cup. If I’m even close to my pre-pregnancy weight, it’s largely due to hair loss, because goodness knows nothing about my body has gotten smaller. When I was pregnant, I thought I would care about the pooch that drapes over my pants when I sit. I don’t. Having a child roots me to this earth, and lightness no longer interests me. Also: those cookie cups are really, really good.
3. Babies can transform the biggest cities into small towns.Â
I live in New York City, a part of the world not generally touted for its friendliness. Yet everywhere I go with my son, people talk to me or him or both. They hold open doors. They smile and wave. They congratulate us. Strangers have blessed him and wished him a happy life, given me recommendations for increasing my supply of breast milk, even tugged his feet or rubbed his cheeks as we rode the subway.
Perhaps babies bring out the best in people. I know my son brings out the best in me. I find myself holding open doors, smiling, and letting people go first, regardless of whether he’s with me. The world feels like a kinder, better place with him in it.
4. You (we) can’t bend Baby’s will.
Between us, my husband and I have seven degrees. Seven. And yet we constantly, consistently lose arguments with our 19-pound bundle of joy. There’s simply no reasoning with someone who lacks verbal skills.
We decide it’s time to lose the pacifier. OK, guys, no prob, he smirks, then refuses to take more than a 10-minute nap for days. We agree that he can’t get out of the crib before 6:30 am. Sure, sure, whatever, he nods, batting his long blond lashes, then screams his head off promptly at 5. Let’s not even talk about the back-and-forth about solid food. He wins, every time.
5. Babies are like scratch tickets.
You never know what kind you’re going to get. Some people hit the jackpot, with infants who hardly cry, rarely fuss, sleep through the night within a few weeks. But those babies are as rare as three cherries in a row. I mean, what are the odds?
Much like rubbing the silver off of scratch tickets, there’s something so satisfying about watching my baby’s personality reveal itself. One day he’s lying there like a potato, the next day he starts laughing because he hears me laughing. One day he’s content with whatever toy I hand him, the next day only the pink spatula will do. He loves being outside, cooing, a Beanie Baby named Brobee, and being tickled. This week.