Something must be in the water because everyone around me is having a baby. Babies, babies everywhere! All I see are beautiful baby pictures on facebook. I love looking at baby pictures. But, I've noticed that something strange happens to me every time I see a baby. I feel a wave of exhaustion roll over me and I swear my ovaries shrink a little. I am done having babies. I had two. Two is enough for me. It's not that I don't like kids. Kids are great. I love kids. I'm not keen on babies ages 0 to 24 months. Babies are little and cute. They are also scary and breakable and lousy conversationalists. Babies cry and won't tell you what is causing them to feel sad or angry. Are they hungry? Are they tired? Are they injured? Maybe it's gas. Who the hell knows?! Babies stress me out. My babies really put me through the ringer and I now know I could not handle the infant/toddler stage again.
You would think by now, I would be comfortable with babies since I'm a mother of two. I thought I was pretty good with babies after my first daughter, S, was born. S was a good baby. Good Babies are not the same as Angel Babies. Angel Babies sleep through the night almost immediately, never cry, never get sick, and makes your Good Baby look like Rosemary's baby. Good Babies challenge you just enough to make you believe you can handle parenting. Good Babies might have a few little quirks that cause a parent to worry for a little while. S would only sleep in her swing, had eczema, light food allergies, and chronic ear infections her first year. Other than that, she was pretty easy going. After a year or two with your Good Baby, you look at your partner and say, "Look at our Good Baby. We did a good job with our Good Baby. I think we know what we are doing as parents. Let's have another baby. I'm sure it will be a Good Baby." That is when you have a Demon Baby. My second daughter, B, had colic for about 6 months. From 7pm to 11pm every night, she screamed like a banshee. Her sleep schedule was (and still is) erratic. B has two moods... monkey and angry monkey. If B was born first instead of S, B would have been an only child. B was Rosemary's baby. B ruined babies for me. I'm glad B is not a baby anymore.
But, I do like kids. I think kids in general are pretty damn cool. Funny kids, sweet kids, naughty kids, loud kids, rough kids, smart kids, quiet kids, and talented kids all have something to give to this world. They all have something to give to us, adults. I've made list of some of my favorite things about having a kid around. This is not the kids love you unconditionally, hugs and kisses and smoochy poo stuff. This is the other stuff... the cool stuff I discovered once my babies became kids.
- Halloween candy - As an adult, it is your job to quality check your kid's Halloween candy stash every year. Sometimes you snag a Snickers or Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in the process. Score! You also have to eat the treats left out for Santa. In our house, Santa gets cookies and beer. You have to play along... for the kids.
- Young kids think you are awesome if you are better than them at something (as long as that something is cool). Here are some examples: If you save the princess in Super Mario Bros on your old school Nintendo, can draw something without tracing, know some sports stats, throw a Frisbee in their general direction, are able to pluck a chord or two on an electric guitar, stay on your old skate board for a few seconds... dude, to a little kid, you rule so much.
- Kids are funny. Just sit down with a pre-schooler and start up a conversation about anything. Kids can be incredibly perceptive and witty. If you ask them a question about how something works or why something is the way it is and they don't know the real answer, kids just make stuff up. The best part is, they completely stand behind what they say. Ask a kid where babies come from and prepare for a good laugh.
- Kids take idioms literally.
- Kids want to help you all the time. They want to feel like they are an important part of the family. They want to help cook or wash the car. Kids also love getting stuff for their parents, whether it's handing you tools while you're fixing something, rushing to grab an emergency roll of toilet paper for you because you realized you were out after it was too late, or a beer from the fridge. Take advantage of this while they are still interested in helping. Also, it's not child labor if they want to help.
- Kids make up songs all the time. Sometimes I feel like I live in a musical when the kids are cleaning up their toys, coloring pictures, or taking a bath. Kids also mess up the words to popular songs. This offers a great deal of comic relief in my home.
- Want to get 100% honest opinions on your outfit, make up, hair style, or new hipster eyeglasses? Ask a kid. Warning: Not for the thin skinned. Kids tell it like it is. Adults are not always so honest. There's fine print in adult world - not so much in kid world. If a kid says you're cool, you're cool. If not, you might want to check yourself.
- You can relive your childhood! Toy companies are bringing back our old toys and cartoons from the 80's. They call it retro. Retro? Yes, retro. (I'll give you a moment to process that.) Break out your old Transformers, GI Joe, Strawberry Shortcake, or My Little Ponies and show off your rad collection to your kid. You can watch your favorite Saturday morning cartoons. I was so stoked the first time S watched an episode of Fraggle Rock. No, you don't have to have a kid or be around a kid to enjoy your old toys and cartoons, but I think it's neat to see another generation geek out on the things you loved as a child.
Congratulations! You did it! You are now a parent. Here is my unsolicited advice on parenting. It's okay if you are scared. It's okay that you don't know what you are doing half the time. It's okay to question why you ever thought procreating was a good idea and that you could totally handle it when you are up at 3am with a screaming baby. We might not like to admit it, but every parent has moments of doubt and frustration... avoid conversations with parents who never admit doubt and frustration. Have a glass of wine when the colic stops for the night. Enjoy the moments when your baby is doing something cute, like sleeping. Trust your gut. Take a lot of pictures and be sure to backup your picture files so you don't lose them if your computer crashes... twice. Yes, your baby will not be a little baby for long and that might make you feel sad. The good news is, your baby will become a kid and kids are more fun (see list above). During the rough times... and there will be rough times... try to find the humor in it all. There are a lot of laughs to be had. And most of all, please remember that you'll be fine... I promise.