My best friend in college was really into babies. Like, really. She loved to coo at them and cuddle with them. So much so, that for her 20th birthday, when she was not even close to starting a family, I gave her the gorgeously illustrated, Anne Geddes Baby Name Keepsake Book. Strange gift for a 20 yr old… but for her, it made sense. I just knew that she was destined to become an incredible mother who loved her littles with every inch of her being.
I, on the other hand, was not much of a baby person. I liked kids and I definitely liked babysitting them for extra income. But I didn’t gravitate toward infants like my friend, Liz. If we were hanging out at a coffee shop, and there was a lady sitting next to us with a newborn and a dog, Liz would be admiring the baby and I would be petting the terrier. That was just how we rolled.
When I hit my late 20’s, my maternal instincts kicked into high gear with a jolt and I suddenly wanted to have a baby more than anything in the world. Ask my husband – I was on an maniacal mission to become a mother. It took several years to get pregnant, but when when I finally got the positive test, it was one of the happiest days of my life. I was officially a “baby person”, right?
Well, sort of.
My newborn arrived and I loved, loved, LOVED him. I thought he was the most beautiful thing in the world. But there were days when I felt bored out of my mind whilst cooing at him, or singing to him, or playing peek-a-boo for the 56th time. Life seemed pretty mundane and repetitive at times. I found myself thinking, Oh, won’t it be nice when he can feed himself OR when he is potty trained and I don’t have to change diapers OR when we can go out and about on long adventures.
It will be nice when he is older, I thought.
My husband, not being much of a baby person himself, whole-heartedly agreed. We were ready for our babies to be non-babies so we could have long conversations with them and take them out to see the world.
Fast forward ten years, and we have officially arrived at the non-baby stage. We have two big strapping boys who debate every subject and run ahead of us on hiking trails. They’re independent, they’re fun and they are definitely not infants any more. The irony of it all? There are moments when I yearn for the newborn stage again. Perhaps I have a case of “the grass is greener”. Perhaps I’m crazy. Or perhaps I now appreciate the incredible amount of love, growth and effort that contributed to my sweet babies morphing into young men and I want to revisit and cherish that intense yet fleeting period.
These days, if I’m talking to an expectant dad or mom who has never considered him or herself to be a baby fanatic and is feeling a little anxious about becoming a parent, I give them these simple tips:
My Three Suggestions for Non-Baby Folks:
1. If you’re expecting a little one, and you’ve never been much of a baby person before, don’t fret. There is nothing in the world like having your own kiddo. You are going to grow to love that little person passionately, and you will also figure out how to take care of them with time. No experience needed.
2. After baby arrives, if singing nursery rhymes or stacking blocks for two hours straight causes your head to hurt, make sure to schedule regular non-baby time for yourself: coffee out with a friend, date night with your partner, GNO with your besties, or even returning to work part- or full-time. After short breathers from your babe, you’ll find yourself rushing home, excited to jump back into the nightly bath and bedtime routine. The first three years of our babies’ lives are irreplaceable, developmentally and experientially, so take care of yourself so you can be fully present for them.
3. Savor the baby years. I know this seems counter-intuitive for us non-baby people. But our kids really are babies for a very short period. So stare at their little hands. Listen to their sweet, squeaky voices. Laugh when they do the same silly dance 15 times in a row. Relax your shoulders, breathe in their baby smell and know that it is all temporary.
Now when I see a woman at a coffee shop with a stroller and a dog, I gravitate toward the infant first. Perhaps I am fully converted to a “baby person”? I guess that can’t hurt since I do write for a baby blog. 😉
Here’s to Strength and Babies,