Friday, July 25

This is what parenthood has done to me

My in-laws took my baby yesterday. I somewhat begrudgingly allowed them a weekend trip with Ethan to visit Noah’s grandparents, who have sinfully not met him yet.

When I was lolling on the couch, feeling martyrish and sad, waiting for So You Think You Can Dance? to come on, I realized that I appreciated the break from diapers and bottles. But I still missed Ethan.

He can’t talk (although I’m convinced that he’s convinced he can — he’s skillful at yelling at the dog, the strangers walking by in Chick-fil-a, the key rack on the wall, me, Noah, etc., with very serious facial expressions that he’s been a master of since birth).

He can’t yet feed himself, or walk, or even sit up unassisted for that matter. But he’s still a little person. With his own little personality. Which is growing every day as he discovers new things about the world and who he is in it.

When I picked him up from daycare, he had his dodi (that’s pacifier, for you philistines out there) in his mouth and was having a ball kicking and punching around under his blue fleecy blanket, settling down for a nap. (Don’t worry; the daycare folks constantly pull the blanket down off his face, because he continually tries to cover it.)

When I went over, slowly pulled the blanket back, and let him grab my finger, he literally started laughing. He was so surprised to see me there while he was off daydreaming about something else (the mashed peas at lunch? Cody the dog? his toys? me and Noah?), that he couldn’t stop giggling.

He’s so wonderfully adorable and smart and intelligent and genial (we bundle all that together under the general term “advanced”) that Noah and I can’t help but compare him to other babies. But not in the way the baby-rearing books warn you about. Not in the “my baby can’t hold his own bottle yet, but my friend’s baby can” sense. We know, deep within our hearts, that Ethan is superior.

It actually all started for me while I was still pregnant. I was at Wal-Mart, and I saw this guy about our age pushing his infant in the cart, clearly enjoying being a father. It was a heartwarming Kodak moment. My first thought? My baby is better than his baby. I know; I was shocked too.

It’s only gotten worse from there.

Whenever we’re in public, we try to be friendly to other people with babies and smile affectionately at their children. Once we’re safely past, though, we give each other a knowing glace and a quick shake of the head, feeling sorry for those parents with hideous offspring. Sure all babies are cute (some more than others), because all babies are small. At least compared to grown-ups. Which is another problem I’ve come to realize many babies have, actually: They look less like cherubs and more like shrunken adults.

So when people ask, with quizzical expressions, if Ethan more resembles Noah or me, I smile to myself knowing that he actually does look like a baby, with his distinguishable features somewhat hidden under a certain lovable layer of squishiness. At this point, I’m glad he doesn’t have my cheeks and Noah’s nose.

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