As you might recall, part of the reason for this trip back to the states was for me to meet my baby niece Veronica, who was born last July 4th. Through some wacky collision of fortune and misfortune, my visit ended up coinciding with the day after my sister was released from the hospital after having surgery. While it’s obviously a bummer to have a sick sister, it felt very lucky that I happened to be on the right continent just at the time she really could use an extra pair of hands to help deal with the baby and all the other necessities of life while she recuperated. So I extended my stay here by a few days and did my best to be as helpful as possible.
And thus I got an unexpected crash course in BABIES.
Lesson the first: BABIES ARE HARD WORK. I already “knew” this. Everyone already “knows” this. The parents, they tell you, “you don’t know” and you think “well I can guess.” And maybe you are better at guessing than I am? But I didn’t know. And what’s worse, I’m pretty sure I STILL don’t know, because I was doing less than 1/3 of the babycare duties for less than one full week and I’m still COMPLETELY BONE DRY SAPPED OF ALL ENERGY LIFE OR SANITY. So this lesson isn’t even learned. It’s just threatened.
Lesson number two PUN INTENDED: It is hard to talk about anything other than babies when you are dealing with a baby. I know it is considered bad internet form to talk too much about your kid, and that your childless friends will explode into ragebombs of “get over yourself gross TMI” when you show them a grainy old-school 2D sonogram and they may be forced to recall that you GASP HAVE A UTERUS IN THERE. Maybe I’m just a hopeless Twittering product of my generation, but I can’t understand how a significant portion of your daily life can suddenly revolve around cleaning up someone else’s poop and vomit and you are expected to keep mum about it. And just keep tweeting instagrammed sandwiches or whatever.
Lesson number three: this is all harder than it used to be. Ok, so, maybe I was a little less than 100% aware of all the difficulties my parents faced in raising my little brother given I was in the first grade when he was a baby, but I still feel pretty confident in asserting that things were easier back then. When breastfeeding was an option, not the option, lest a drop of formula pass your baby’s lips and suddenly transform her into a Human Monster. When babies were allowed to sleep on their stomachs and watch TV and chew shards of glass or whatever as long as it made them shut up for five seconds. We know too damn much about babies now. It almost makes me want to NOT wait to have kids because sometime in between now and whenever I am “ready” they might find out that babies shouldn’t be exposed to eyelashes all Reasonable Mothers will rip theirs out because to do any less would be unthinkably selfish.
Lesson number four: None of this matters because of the power of cuteness. Who cares how needy and gross and irrational and tiring babies are when they have DOUGHY LITTLE ARMS and ROUND CHEEKS and GIANT EYES and when they smile it is like a sunbeam is shining directly on your soul. I am hoping I forget these feelings as soon as precious little Veronica is out of arm’s reach or it won’t be long until I take on learning lessons one through three the hard, full-time, irreversible way. I need to stay strong and keep in mind:
Lesson number five: I am not ready for babies.