Baby Days

I walked into a family gathering yesterday afternoon and my attention was immediately drawn to my sister-in-law. She was holding her seven week old grandson. She looked at me and asked, “Do you want to hold him?”

“Of course,” I said, reaching for the little guy. I gathered him up on my shoulder and secured him against me with one hand against his back and the other under his butt. He scootched his little legs up underneath himself and took a moment to settle. I’m sure he was wondering who was this person who did not smell at all like Mom. He squeaked and tried to decide which way to lay his head. With my palm against his back and my fingers splayed behind his neck and head, I immediately fell into the bouncy-sway that always settled my own kids when they were babies. The little guy soon grew heavy. I checked him out in a nearby mirror and saw that he had fallen asleep.

We were both as content as could be, the little guy and me. I don’t know that there’s a much better feeling in this world than cuddling a sleeping baby, his fists bunched up against you and his cheek nestled into your neck.

I looked at his mom, our niece, and smiled, finding it hard to believe that this new mother was one of the flower girls in our wedding just a few years ago … or twenty-four years ago today, to be exact. We stood talking while little guy slept against me. My niece said she’d have to go back to work in a week and I frowned and told her I was sorry. I remember being a new mom and the way I suddenly saw the world through new eyes, the way I suddenly became a different person. Becoming a mom makes you infinitely more aware, conscious of the world in a way you’ve never been before. A protector. I remember moments after giving birth, feeling a love so strong I could never have imagined it before.

Several times, my niece and my sister-in-law offered to take the baby off my hands. I told them to eat. I was more than happy to hold the little guy while they enjoyed their meal. I really was. In fact, were it not for a sense of guilt that I was monopolizing him when there were others who wanted to hold him, I would have been happy to hang out with him all afternoon.

It doesn’t seem so long ago that I was the one wondering when I’d enjoy a full night’s sleep again, when I’d get to eat a hot meal, or when I could sit and read a book uninterrupted. Now that little girl who walked down the aisle at my wedding is wondering the same things, while I sit in a quiet house and wonder what my “babies” are doing as they are off living their own lives.

So what do you do when you reach this point in your life, when your babies have grown up and don’t need you like they used to? You sit back and enjoy watching others enjoy the parenthood adventure. You marvel at how things have changed and you remember all the fun you had raising babies. You remember too how it wasn’t always all rainbows and sunshine and are glad that gone are the days of four year-olds flooding the bathroom while your husband is away at work and unavailable to help clean up the mess.

And…

You take advantage of the fact that those in the midst of their child-rearing days are more than happy to let you entertain their kids for a while. You take advantage of the fact that you don’t have to be the parent, the disciplinarian. You can just be the goofball auntie who gets down on the floor and plays silly games with a kid who is craving some attention.

Nephew Ryan is always more than happy to pose for the camera…

And at the end of the day, you can fall into bed with little doubt that a full night’s sleep awaits you.

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19 thoughts on “Baby Days

  1. First of all, Happy Anniversary!
    I held a baby not too long ago at work, and all those memories flooded back to me. For a moment I was sad that those days were long gone. Then he started fussing. I bounced him a little, and when that didn’t work, I gave him back to Mom! So yes, I miss having babies at times, but to be able to enjoy the BEST part of babies now, and not have to deal with the colic, the diapers, the sleepless nights, the unending washing of dirty bottles… is definitely more fun! :)
    Beautiful picture of you and Ryan, btw.

  2. Well said Terri. My middle daughter recently said she thought there is something addictive about baby smell pheromones which keeps you wanting to hug them even when they’ve puked or gone in their diapers and that somewhere as they push two, you’re smelling them and suddenly you realize they just smell sweaty LOL

  3. “I don’t know that there’s a much better feeling in this world than cuddling a sleeping baby, his fists bunched up against you and his cheek nestled into your neck.”

    Ah yes. Man I miss those days.

    My son is NOT quite on his own, but he’s pulled away from me A LOT this last year. And it breaks my heart to think about him meaning for college in just two years.

    Good thing I have my 4 year old nephew Mason!

    And Ryan? OMG He’s too cute for WORDS!

  4. Happy anniversary!! And such a cute nephew!

    Isn’t it great to cuddle with a new baby? And nice that it doesn’t last 24/7?? Yes, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine, but the flooded bathrooms and midnight pukees – well, it’s all good!

  5. Happy 24th Anniversary! Glad to see you and Mark holding are going for the silver.

    When you look past the late nights, messy diapers, finicky eaters, grey hairs, lost sleep, countless toys and dirty outfits, little babies do have a way of keep us grounded. Those days seem so long ago.

  6. Happy Anniversary!

    It is amazing how we instinctively switch on that rocking-swaying movement when holding babies isn’t it? I even do it when carrying Frou Frou!

    And don’t you and Ryan look alike? Are you SURE he is a nephew? You didn’t sneak in a late one? :-)

  7. Happy Anniversary! I do agree with you – there’s not much better than holding a sleepy baby…. but it’s also nice to give them back, grab my jacket and head out for dinner with the hubbs.

    Time sure does fly past us … MJ

  8. WOW! Happy 24th Anniversary, Terri and Mark! Just think -one more year and you guys can have a great big silver anniversary celebration. As to the babies though, oh how I can relate to your words here. Before long though, I’ll bet that you will have a lot of access to new babies, to toddler, to small and really active children -those things called grandkids! The nice thing about grandkids -they say -is you can do what you want with ‘em, teach ‘em all kinds of tricks and bad words and then, send ‘em home. Yeah, sometimes it does quite work out that way but you know, even if they would happen to end up living with you, it’s still fantastic! Loved all the memories this post brought to my mind of my kids and now of the grandkids too. Time goes by so quickly and we don’t realize it, do we, how great those things are when they are actually happening but in our memories, they are truly wonderful -even those bad days too.

  9. Lovely post, Terri. Something poignant about remembering our kids’ baby days while rejoicing that they’re young adults and not nearly so needy any more! Happy, happy Anniversary to you and your husband!

  10. I like that I don’t have babies keeping me up at night (other than waiting on my son to get home from night school), but I secretly look forward to holding grand babies someday in the not too distant future.

    Happy Anniversary!

  11. Happy Anniversary!!! I’ll be excited to feel those emotions of motherhood someday, especially after reading your posts on kids in your family and your kid-neighbors. You have a cute nephew!

  12. They come and go so quickly that, like christmas, if you don’t make the effort to be aware in the moment, the moments fly by. Happy Anniversary. (linked over from MJs blog)

  13. You look young enough to be a new bride yourself. Happy Anniversary.

    Sweet post. I remember the sweetness of holding a new baby and enjoying the snuggling times.
    Your family day sounds awesome.

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