Helen at The Busy Mama’s asked me to join in her linky about the things you’ll miss when you don’t have babies any more. “I’d love to,” I thought. “Just let me think about what those things could possibly be…”
I loved having babies. (Well, just one at a time, I mean.) But when I stopped to think what it was that I loved about it, I wasn’t quite sure. Their delicious chubby thighs, their little wiggling fingers, watching them grow and learn and discover the world? Yes, all those things. But babies are also just basically little pink slugs, lying around (or, worse, propelling themselves into everything) waiting for you to change them and feed them and try in vain to make them sleep at some time that might make your life easier instead of harder. What’s to miss, really, I wondered…?
Then I got it. The thing I’ve been vaguely nostalgic about lately. The thing that was so wonderful about having my own little babies was the exact same thing that was so terrible, so daunting, and such a millstone around my neck – their total and utter dependence on me.
It’s just, it’s pretty special, that feeling, when you’re the one who puts them to sleep and wakes them up, the soft body they look for to press themselves against when they’ve gone bump, the one whose touch can stop them coughing at night, the one they want to fall asleep beside. (It’s also suffocating and terrifying, but let’s not dwell on that aspect.)
I feel like I’m not selling this very well. I know, of course, that I wasn’t the only one, and some lucky babies even have more than just two of those people who are that special. I also know that I could be special to another baby in time, even if it’s not exactly my own.
But there – that’s the thing. It’s having my own. Maybe I’m just selfish. Maybe I liked the limelight-by-association that I had as mother-of-cute-baby (and every baby is cute, of course). Maybe it was the pride in knowing that I grew this baby in my own body and nourished it with my own milk and here it is growing and learning and laughing and crying and wanting to be with me, more than anyone else. Being so totally attached to and entwined with another being that you wake when they wake and feel pain when they cry.
It can’t last, that time. Nor would you want it to. Which is what makes it so precious, so fleeting, so hard to live in the moment.