Confession: I am Not a “Baby Person”
Let’s be clear about something: I love babies. I do. I think they are precious, adorable miracles and I feel a fierce protectiveness towards them. I love babies. I just don’t particularly like them. (insert ashamed-face emoji here) I don’t get all dewy-eyed when I see photos of newborns, my arms don’t itch to hold someone’s baby when we’re at a party, I don’t miss the newborn stage when it’s over. I think babies are cute, but I’m not drawn to them.
I have four kids spanning a ten year window, so I have a pre-teen, a big kid, a preschooler, and a toddler. I still call my toddler “baby,” so I’m lumping him into the baby category. There are obvious reasons to appreciate older children. No more diapers, no more car seats. If I have any kind of work I need to get done or a quick errand to run I can say “Hey, I’ve got some stuff to do” and they say “Cool” and then they do their homework or do their chores or play video games and all is well. Babies/toddlers DO wear diapers and DO have car seats and cannot practically (or legally) be left alone for any period of time. So obviously the baby season can take its toll because of the element of their dependency.
But it’s bigger than that for me. Because in a way, as exhausting as their dependency is, that’s not what exasperates me. I recognize that their dependency is part of what binds us together. I love them as deeply as I do because I care for them as extensively as I do. So while I long for the day when there are truly no more diapers or car seats or the necessity of constant vigilance due to the dangers of electrical sockets and toilets (and why has that gross rusty bolt that anchors a toilet to the ground been the favorite object of interest for each of my children at some point???), there’s a bigger reason I’m not a “baby person.”
I LIKE the conversation and companionship of my older kids. My oldest son is in sixth grade, and his homework is more interesting and his thoughts are more complex and when he’s funny it’s because he’s being clever, not silly. We can talk about things that are interesting to BOTH of us and he’s understanding the world in increasingly mature ways, and I actually legitimately enjoy his company (most of the time).
But while I’m in the living room having conversations with him about life or relationships or whether The King’s Speech (which he’s seen) should have been rated R (which it is), my youngest baby (aka toddler) is in the kitchen pulling all the Ziploc bags out of their box and flinging them around him wildly, doing it as fast as he can as though he gets some kind of perverse pleasure out of seeing if he can remove them all before I discover what he’s up to. And while I do see the adorableness even in this ridiculousness, the fact is that I like the conversation I left in the living room more than the mess I found in the kitchen.
Add to that the fact that this little mess-maker is a big ol’ crybaby, and that makes him one exhausting little person. And if you’re reading this and you’ve met my baby, well…I know. The cheeks and the teeth and the crazy hair and the impish smile — he’s super cute. Like, suuuuuper cute. At least, that’s how he is when we’re out in public, and I’m really thankful that that’s the case because when he’s making me batty at home with his whiny-ness and clingy-ness and neediness and all the other -nesses (#allthenesses), it’s nice to know that I can whisk him away to somewhere as unthrilling as the grocery store and he will be delightful. He will smile and point and babble and dance to the Muzak, and everyone who walks by will be like “What a little charmer you have” and instead of contradicting strangers (because that’s annoying) I’ll nod and smile and generally give the impression that yes, he is charming all day long every day and even I, his mother, am not immune to his charm. I’m glad that taking him to run errands is fun, not frustrating.
I can struggle to like that little boy sometimes, but I never ever struggle to love him. There’s an invisible thread connecting his heart to mine, as there is with all my children, and even at the heights of his naughtiness, my love for him is solid.
And sometimes, following said naughtiness, he takes a nap and wakes up rosy-cheeked and happy, because he was actually just super tired. Or I give him a snack and as his blood sugar picks back up he starts laughing and dancing because he actually just had a bad case of the munchies. Or I take him out to the pool and he gets happy because that’s what he really wanted all along but didn’t have the words to communicate it. I suspect this boy just really wants to be able to talk and TELL us what he needs, and I suspect that he’ll relax a bit once he can.
I’m not a “baby person,” but I am a “people person.” I don’t mean that in the sense of being super social and loving being around people. I mean that I am for people. I am an advocate for the dignity and sanctity of human life. So even though my little baby can sometimes make me crazy, his life is so precious, and not just because he’s my own. His preciousness is greater to me because he’s my own, but he’s precious because God saw fit to give him life and bring him into this world. He’s precious because he has blood flowing through his veins and a heart that’s pumping and a soul that makes him who he is.
It doesn’t matter if I’m a baby person. I have a baby, and that MAKES me a baby person. And when he kisses me with his sweet little baby breath or lays his head on my shoulder or gets giggling really hard about something, even I have to admit…I’m probably going to miss it when it’s over.