At ease, soldier

Sunday, August 16, 2009
What am I looking forward to most about having a second baby?

Big boobs. I'm not kidding. For a few months out of my entire life I get to have big, glorious, bountiful boobs and while it's a shame that no one gets to play with them, they're a joy to look at. No one even notices that my belly is all bulgy or that there are stains on the back of my shirt. Nope. Everyone, including me, is mesmerized by the shiny, voluminous masses that are smiling big goofy smiles out from beneath my shirt. And I pick good shirts. I rocked tank tops with E and believe you me, I don't care how cold it is when B is born, I'm gonna rock tank tops till the boobs are all gone. And this time, I'm gonna make D take more pictures. As much as I hate being in pictures, I want to remember these puppies in all their glory because I'm well aware of what doom inevitably lies ahead.

What am I really looking forward to?

Big boobs. Just kidding. I really am looking forward to those, don't think I'm not, but that's not what I'm really looking forward to. I'm really excited at the prospect of getting a do-over. The chance to do it all over again without the nervousness, the anxiety or the fear. I can't wait to walk around with a warm and snuggly newborn in my arms and know that I can do this. Because look over there. See that kid. I've kept him alive and mostly happy for two years and a newborn? Compared to him? Heh. Piece of cake. I mean, I can spot a first time mom from a mile away now...because not only does she look exhausted and a little bit confused, she looks like a deer in headlights. Like a gazelle who just heard a rustle in the brush and has a sinking feeling she's about to become a snack for a very hungry lion. Fortunately, she usually also looks totally smitten and blinded by love, but mostly she looks petrified. And she should be - a healthy dose of fear is good - because newborns are scary. Why do you think they package them in such cute containers? Why do you think they're all warm and smell so sweet and smile at you right when you're at your breaking point? A wise man once compared children to the Army (or the hazing ritual of a frat house.) They break you down - deprive you of sleep, interrupt your meals, run you ragged, constantly mess with your minds - and then build you back up according to their master plan. And they do. And we love every minute of it. Why else would we be coming back for more?

Anyway...The first time you do anything - follow a recipe, find someone's house, put on a pair of skis and barrel down a mountain, etc. etc. - is without a doubt, the most difficult. And while I am perfectly aware that B is bound to be a very different baby than E was, it's like driving a car. Sure, one is like a big rig and one is like a, oh I don't even know what kind of car B will be like, but what I do know is that it will be different. But the rules of the road are still the same. I'll have to develop a feel for a new clutch and the steering might be a little tighter, but a stop sign is a stop sign is a stop sign. With E, I had to learn how to maneuver a big rig and how to drive period. With B...well, at least now I know how to drive.

I'm also looking forward to being able to enjoy her babyhood a little bit more. D and I were really conscious in trying to live in the moment and enjoy each day for what it was with E because we knew he might be our only child, but despite our best efforts, I think we both wanted him to grow up faster. At first we wanted him to outgrow his reflux. Then we wanted him to be able to sit up and not just lay on the floor. Then we wanted him to be old enough to try some solid foods to see if that helped him sleep. Then we wanted him to crawl. Then...well, you get the point. Plus, there was always this sense of excited anticipation. What's the next milestone? Will he master it ahead of schedule like he's been doing or will he finally plateau? And he seemed to be the kind of kid who was in a hurry, so we let him race through his first year. I know we didn't push him and I know that fundamentally, we took our cues from him and his personality, but we did beam with pride like two morons whenever people commented on how advanced he was as if we have anything to do with it. Hell, we still do. The other day someone said he seemed awfully small for his age (she thought he was three) and a little part of me glowed. Now, I know as well as you do that he doesn't really resemble a three year old, but he is very vocal and very agile and well, I could see where maybe someone could think he's two and a half. On a good day.

But with B, well...she's going to be my last baby and I want her to be as baby as she wants to be, without inhibiting her in any way. I guess what I want is to make sure that if she rushes through her babyhood, it's because she wants to and not because we encouraged her to. I will honor her personality as fully as possible, regardless of what it is. But if she wants to take her time, then I am more than willing to indulge her. And when I get all dreamy and fantasize about those precious teenage years, I want to slow down time even more. Because when she's walking behind me in the mall, in her impossibly short skirt and her black eye make-up with her stupid haircut and her expensive-ass shoes and a purse that cost more than my first car (Tin Lizzy may you rest in peace), rolling her eyes at me and texting her friends - or doing whatever kids will be doing in 2022 - I want to be able to look back and think, least we had those first few years. Wasn't it gr8?

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