Wednesday, September 19, 2007

confessions of a closeted baby person

If you knew me long before I started this blog, then you would know that I used to hate kids. I didn’t want any of my own. I didn’t like other people’s kids, especially the ones that misbehaved. And I certainly didn’t know how to act around them. As a result, kids often didn’t like me. I’m sure they picked up on the hateful vibe I was giving off.

When I moved here and witness tons of young tourists make fun of our nation’s history, or not being able to tell the difference between the White House and the Capitol, or just getting in my way on the Metro, I started to dislike kids even more. This was a sentiment I often vented about with my wise and all-knowing roommate at the time, Shell (yes, she reads the blog but I would characterize her as such even if she didn’t). Shell is the proud aunt of two cute, little munchkins. She would listen and relate and nod in understanding every time I complained about kids. But then she would tell me, “Liz, you’ll feel differently when you become an aunt.”

Not surprisingly, Shell was right. On December 21st, 2004, my life changed. My niece Serena was born. Here she is, nestled in her stocking at the hospital nursery.
serena in her little stocking

And when I met her that following January, I didn’t know what to expect. In fact, I hadn’t even held a baby before. My previous baby experience was pretty limited. I didn’t babysit the neighborhood younguns when I was a younger. I wasn’t a cooing expert. And I certainly didn’t know how to entertain a baby. Fortunately, no one had ever asked me to change a diaper, but that meant I had no diaper changing experience either. I figured I would be completely useless around a baby.

On January 6th, 2005, Serena and I finally met. She was placed into my cradling arms and I could no longer say I had never held a baby. Her eyes focused on the ceiling as I breathed her in. baby smell. So much better than stinky baby smell. I ran my finger along the soft skin of her arm and she looked at me. And then it happened. Her face scrunched up and her mouth opened wide. For a split second there was silence. And then she let out the loudest wail she could muster. I quickly handed her off to her mother. I realized just how lucky I was to be able to do that. She’s mom’s problem now.

But before I let her go, my brother took this quick picture of me looking confused and not knowing what to do while holding Serena for the first time.
auntie liz

I could probably count the number of times I’ve seen Serena with two hands, but I still feel close to her. Because of her, I see kids differently. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to not have any of my own. But now, when I see a toddler wobbling on a sidewalk with her mother close behind, I smile instead of cringe. And that’s a big difference from a few years ago.

Not that I’m ready to announce my new status as kid-friendly baby admirer. But I was caught red-handed the other day.

One of my co-workers recently had a baby and she brought her in. Baby K is almost 3months old now and she’s adorable. My co-worker was in the conference room when my co-worker S and I heard the baby making noises in her office. Someone had just woken up.

S and I walked into my co-worker’s office and found Baby K in her stroller. Baby K had apparently thrown her blanket out but still wanted it. S, definitely the more obviously maternal one of the two of us, picked up the blanket for Baby K and tried to tuck her in. S left the office and went to tell our co-worker that her baby had woken up.

While alone with Baby K, I took a good look at her as she squirmed out of her blanket and attempted to kick it out of the stroller again. She made some gurgling sounds. I smiled at her and gurgled back. She made some more gurgling sounds and tried to reach the necklace I was wearing. I played keep away with her and gurgled some more. She seemed to like this little game. As she attempted to communicate in her own special way, I mimicked her and she enjoyed it. She became a little more animated as I played with her. And then S came in.

I tried to pretend I was my calm, indifferent self but it was too late. S had caught me playing with the baby. S came closer to the stroller and saw how animated Baby K was. Baby K’s mouth moved into a shape that could be mistaken for a smile (3 months is too early for a smile, right?) and S got excited. “Look, Liz,” she said. “You made her smile! What were you guys doing?” Trying to keep my cool, I replied, “Uh...I wasn’t doing anything. Besides, she’s probably too young to smile anyways.”

S, who is not just a co-worker but a friend, knows me too well. She rolled her eyes at me and said, “Whatever. You know you’re gonna be a good mom one day.”

Maybe I will be. But until then, I’ll be secretly counting the days until Baby K makes her next visit to the office.


sunchaser said...

Babies can be really cute (when they're not screaming next to you/spitting up on you on a crowded flight :p )

But babies = major, major life change. Why do (some) people think that women want a baby just because we might think that they are cute?

Yes, babies can be cute. Does that mean I want one right now? Hell NO!

(again, what happens when you "ass"ume too much.. :)

Ignorance irritates me sooo much sometimes (and it's a major killer for the sex drive - could this be why so many marriages end after a few years? The eHarmony owner - can't remember his name cuz I don't watch TV anymore (hate, hate, hate commercials) says that you should marry someone of the same intelligence level - by Jove, he might be right!)

Madame M. said...

Whenever you want to get (over) your baby fix, let me know and I'll arrange for you to spend a quiet evening with Herr Meow ;o)

Beakerz said... cute