Babies. Even though I have had one for 1.25 years now, I have hardly blogged about motherhood. Which is quite odd considering how important it is to me. And in my new life, as a law student, which is also ending just about now, it’s a huge part of my identity. I am “the one with the baby.” Not the only one, mind you, but one of them. That’s how people who do not know me at school might know me. Which is a funny thing, all things considered.
I always knew I would probably have kids, but I was honestly never that excited about it. It seemed like a lot of work, and like a big loss of independence, and a major sleep depriver. I have always cherished my independence, even in marriage. I don’t like being too attached to anyone, not because I want the freedom to pursue other relationships, but I just enjoy being alone sometimes. I like peace and quiet. It’s when I can sit quietly, drink a cup of coffee, write a little blog post. I don’t want to go everywhere with someone else. I also love to travel, and were I richer, I don’t really think I would have nicer things in my house, I would just travel more. I would see more things, go more places, meet more people.
But when I turned 30, I really wanted to move in the general kids direction, because I knew I did not want to wait until I (re)started my career or was over 35 or whatever. So we had a baby.
September 9, 2009.
Changed my life? Yup, but in totally different ways that I expected.
Before Gabriel, I never really got why some people went so crazy for babies. They don’t “do” anything, and sometimes they aren’t even that cute. And they cry, and they smell sometimes, and there’s a lot of poop and snot and drool involved, and you have to like, teach them stuff. But that’s so not the whole story. Because they are amazing.
A good friend used to comment on how newborn Gabriel would sometimes look so human. I mean, obviously, right? But there’s something in that description. The fact that babies are tiny, primitive beings, untrained, undeveloped versions of us, especially the first year. They suck, and they eat, and they stare, and they scare easily, and their little tummies hurt, but then they start to focus on objects, they smile, they babble, they hold their heads up, they grab things, and somehow, because at birth they are developmentally like a tiny baby mouse, all sleepy and wrinkly and strange, they just get more and more human, and it’s amazing.
And truthfully, until I had my own, I never got that. And now, ha, I want all the babies. I want to hold them, especially the tiny ones. They are too funny to me. And their tiny developmental steps are so great. And I never even liked babies before. So that’s what’s really changed.
Do I have less independence? Heck yeah, but I still have a lot more than I thought I would. I used to just like getting out and going to browse a book store or take a walk on my own. Now, I still do those things, but I get to see them also through Gabriel’s eyes too. Lots of things are better. You interact with more people when there’s a baby around. It breaks the ice. He smiles at random strangers, you chat, laugh, etc. We ride the bus a lot in Madison, which is the funniest because Gabriel will attempt eye contact with everyone on the bus, which often involves long bouts of staring.
In many ways, Gabriel makes my daily life less mundane. We can have a little adventure just going to school – a bus ride, a little walk, a trip to see professors who remember him when he was tiny, walking the halls, cheering up the stressed students. I know I am lucky. He takes good naps, I can survive on much less sleep than I imagined, and he’s a very good child in public. Sometimes it’s a total hassle, but it couldn’t be any other way. It’s just another human that needs you, and you have to make the most of it.