Now that I got my working mom rant out of the way, I feel like I can finally delve into the true pleasures of raising a baby. Before I begin, let’s be honest – babies are weird. They can’t use words, they can’t get around that gracefully and they don’t know how to use spoons. They also get a kick out of things like the strings that pull window blinds up and down, and ceiling fans especially. And somehow, because they are so intrigued with the little things in life (seriously though, the SMALLEST things), we as adults begin to see the world a little bit differently day by day, and that’s when life becomes fresh once again.
Have you ever missed your childhood or reminisced about how “easy” life used to be when you thought Santa was real; before you got boobs and had to start wearing bras; before you had a cellphone that you couldn’t leave the house without; before you had an ex-boyfriend; before you ever experienced a hangover; and before you really knew why money was so important? I think about this everyday during my half-hour commute to work while listening to Morning Edition and questioning why people suck so bad. But when I come home to my sweet Lorelei in the evening and we lay together on the living room floor while she snuggles her stuffed animals and passes me little plastic balls, giggling uncontrollably as I throw them in the air, I realize that the innocence with which I used to live my life has been reincarnated, so to speak, in my daughter.
Over the past twenty-some years, I forgot how fun life could be when you get to let your sillies out on the regular, but I’m so, so happy that Lorelei has been my reminder. Here are some of the most fun parts of being a mother to a blossoming ten-month-old:
1. Morning snuggle sessions: You know how great it feels when you wake up on a Sunday morning, cozily wrapped in your fluffy, warm comforter, and then you hear rain outside and you get excited about a day spent indoors drinking hot drinks and reading? Imagine having that feeling every morning, rain or shine. That’s what it feels like to snuggle up to your baby after an early morning nursing session. There’s nothing I love more than putting Lorelei in between my husband and me; she’s the ultimate “little spoon.”
2. Going on walks: Lorelei loves being pushed around in her stroller (or trying to push her stroller, but that’s a different story). When passing bushes or shrubbery, she holds her tiny hand out to feel the leaves and flowers, especially Wiggly Ticklers as her grandpa likes to call them. Watching her discover the outside world with her eyes and hands is such a cool thing to experience as a mother, you know, since I used to be able to feel her little hands push me from inside the womb.
3. Playing catch, kind of: Attempting to toss a toy to a baby is usually not that rewarding of a game (whatever you throw usually just ends up hitting them in the face), but around this age, babies get really into physical activity and want to try to do things they’ve never done before, like crawl, walk etc. Lorelei loves it when I roll a plastic ball to her and then let her hand it back to me. Me saying “Thank you!” always results in a big Lorelei belly laugh, so I continue to roll the ball to her until she is ready for something new and crawls away from me, just so I can hear her laugh over and over again. These days, Lorelei sometimes likes to try to throw the ball, but does so by waving both of her arms uncontrollably until the ball flies out of her hand; it’s the cutest.
4. Blankets: If Lorelei is having a tearful moment, usually because her ferocious crawling led to a head-bump or because we had to stop play-time to change her diaper, I grab a blanket and wave it around. For whatever reason, Lorelei loves watching blankets on the move. I think it has something to do with the wind created by the blanket’s movement (Lorelei is obsessed with wind), but for the most part I could care less about the why; I’ll do anything to make her stop crying, even if it does make me look kind of nutty.
5. Dancing: Babies love music. If Lorelei hears a catchy beat, she’ll bounce up and down and wave her hands in the air like she just don’t care. When I can tell she’s really into a song, I’ll pick her up and dance around the living room with her until that song is over. Some of her favorite moves are being held upside down while being tickled, spinning in circles, pretending to waltz and, obviously, doing “The Lorelei,” which is basically just moving your hips back and forth while holding one of your hands out in front of you.
6. Bath time: Kids and adults alike enjoy baths and getting clean, but Lorelei goes crazy for bath time. Since she graduated from the Tummy Tub and discovered what it’s like to have room to move around, she’s reached a whole new level of water love. We use a laundry basket instead of the typical baby bathtub since it was cheaper and can be repurposed once she grows out of it. Doing this ensures that her toys don’t stray too far and that she doesn’t try to crawl around, and it also looks really funny. But the best part of the bath time routine is when Lorelei catches a glimpse of herself in the bathroom mirror. She thinks she looks so funny with a hooded towel wrapped around her little body, so she giggles and wiggles and laughs all the way to the changing table.
7. The beach: Lorelei was a little over five months old the first time we took her to the beach, and it was an absolute disaster. She fell face-first into the sand and didn’t like the ocean, so we both shed many tears. But now, Lorelei LOVES the beach. She crawls all around the sand “eeeing” and “ahhhing” and trying to eat dried up seaweed. And when we take her to the ocean she jumps up and down to splash the water; she loves the way the ocean feels when its small waves rush over her chubby legs. My mom captured this moment, isn’t it wonderful?
8. Being wanted: You know that bothersome self-doubt feeling that’s always hanging around? Whether or not you think you care about what people think of you, it’s always in the back of your mind because we all want to be liked and needed, either by our friends, our boss, our significant other, etc. The thing with babies is they always want you and they most certainly need you, and it’s one of the best feelings in the world. Knowing that you created this little being and you are now responsible for keeping him or her alive is definitely overwhelming, but when holding them to your breast and singing them lullabies halts their tears, it’s very validating (and it happens about five times a day).
9. Rocking to sleep: This one’s pretty basic, but no less incredible. There are times when babies have a really hard time sleeping and they cry inconsolably. When this happens to Lorelei, we have to reassure her by bouncing or rocking her to sleep in our arms. Once she quiets down and tucks her little face into my neck, it’s as though time has literally stopped, and the silent swaying of my body in support of hers is the only thing that exists in the world. It is beautiful; it is peaceful; it is the essence of being a parent.
10. Baby clothes: They are just too adorable, and so hard to not spend all of my money on. As of today, Lorelei is still getting by on the clothes we received as a result of hand-me-downs and baby shower gifts, but once she hits the year mark, I’m going to need daily reminders of why I shouldn’t go on a crazy Baby Gap shopping spree. Reminder number one: college tuition will be about $70,000 per year at a private institution by the time Lorelei graduates high school. Holy crap. No more onesies!
11. Running my fingers through Lorelei’s baby curls: There’s not much else to say about this other than the fact that baby hair is so incredibly soft. It’s like petting a chinchilla whenever I want, except Lorelei came from my uterus, not Petco.
12. Making up nursery rhymes on the fly: Here are two of my favorites at the moment.
She’s so cute and she’s so fly
(sung loosely to the tune of “Spider Pig” from The Simpsons Movie)
You’re my little morning pastry
You’re my little afternoon cheesy
You’re my little dinnertime dumpling
You’re my little dessert sweet
(sung to a tune that varies often depending on Lorelei’s mood)
And an old classic that I just remembered:
Get your poopies out
Time to get your poopies out
(sung to the tune of this Ross commercial when Lorelei used to get constipated)
For times when my or my husband’s random poetics don’t do the trick, Raffi’s interpretation of “Brown Girl in the Ring” is Lorelei’s go-to jam.
13. Having something to look forward to every single day: Before I had a little family to come home to, I would usually not be all that excited to go home after work. I’d opt to go shopping or meet someone for dinner, using “home” as nothing more than a place to change my outfit. But now, I’m excited to go home because I know that there’s a cute little bubby waiting for me. I look forward to seeing what outfit her dad dressed her in, giving her a hug and kissing her squishy cheeks. Even though I know I won’t be able to relax until later in the night after I feed her, bathe her, pajama her and nurse/rock her to sleep (a two- to three-hour process), I’m never not excited to get home to my sweet baby.
I could add a million more things to this list if prompted, but it took me four days to come up with the time to write about these 13, so I’ll leave it at that.