Yesterday afternoon I ran some errands with my baby. Being as I live in a neighborhood where it sometimes feels like I know everyone, I bumped into a friend. She asked where I was headed. I explained that I was out doing errands alone since my almost-4-year-old daughter was at dance class.
My friend looked at me, looked down at the baby cooing up at her from his stroller, and looked back at me again. “You know you’ve got the baby, right?” she asked.
Well yes, of course I knew. But that baby lets me do errands. He sits in his stroller, takes in the world, and smiles. Sometimes he sings. On occasion he cries, and then I can usually just move him into the ergo carrier and he’s happy again. He lets me go for long walks in the park. He lets me meet up with a friend for coffee. That baby will even sleep in the stroller–or the ergo–and let me sit on a bench and read a book.
It is so easy to just have a baby.
I know, first-time moms, you think I’m crazy. I remember what it was like back then. When that baby is your first child, it’s not so easy. You’re constantly second-guessing yourself (is he hungry? Tired? Cold? Needs to burp? Sick? Oh God, what did I do to my baby?) Or you’re constantly packing and repacking the diaper bag, only to realize when you’re out that you forgot to refill the wipes case and you’re stuck using the balled-up napkins you found in your coat pocket. Or you’re trying so hard to get out of the house for the one activity of the day that you can sometimes make it to, and the baby spits up all over the only shirt you had left without any spit-up on it.
But when that baby is child #2, it’s all so different. For the most part, I don’t second-guess myself this time around–I have a pretty good idea of what’s normal for a baby, and when something comes up that worries me, I’m not afraid to call the pediatrician. I’m good at keeping a well-stocked diaper bag, but in dire situations, I either use those balled-up napkins or just let him sit in a dirty diaper for a little bit longer (sorry kiddo!). And I don’t even stress about wearing clean shirts–I figure I’m still allowed to look like a disaster until he turns 1. (After that, well, hopefully I’ll go shopping someday.)
Though a baby is demanding and needs a lot of my time, he’s also so different from my big girl. I don’t have to cajole him to use the bathroom before leaving the house, or coach him through putting on his own shoes, or negotiate what he’ll eat for dinner. Life is easier because I’m totally in charge, and as much as he has some of his own schedule, he can run on mine (or, let’s be realistic, his big sister’s) without a problem. It’s when those babies start to want to be in control of their own lives that things get hard.
So yes, when I’m out with the baby, it often feels like I’m alone. Until I look down at those huge eyes and that toothy grin and feel that baby love that’s so awe-inspiring and overwhelming. And instantly the world is a better place.
P.S. Just because I feel like I’m alone when I’m with the baby does not mean I will forget him anywhere. I promise.