I have a confession to make.
I’m not a baby person.
I know, I know, that doesn’t seem like a big deal and it goes without saying (except this is the internet so I’ll say it anyway to ensure there’s no misunderstanding (except this is the internet so there’s always a chance of a misunderstanding)) I love my boys. I’d do all the usual clichés parents would do for their kids: I’d die for them, I’d kill for them, I’d fly to Paris to rescue them from human traffickers and murder a load of gangstas on the way. You know, all the usual parenty stuff.
But – and this is where I feel I deviate from the norm – I don’t ‘miss’ the baby days with Tyger and I don’t think Baby Bear is ‘growing up too fast’. All I seem to read in baby groups and from friends with babies is how upset they are their nine-month-olds aren’t tiny babies anymore, how they’re in tears over the thought of a first birthday, how nostalgic they are about teeny tiny sleepsuits and how morose they are at their baby moving up a nappy size. I feel bad for them but I’m left wondering if I’m the only person in the world who just doesn’t really like the baby stage.
I’m not saying I spend/spent the whole ‘baby’ part of parenting resenting my children or being indifferent towards them. Of course, like any mum, I felt an overwhelming sense of love when they fell asleep on me whilst I fed them. I felt all gooey inside when they started smiling. I was convinced they were the smartest babies on the planet when they learned how to clap or sit up unaided or move around. I was elated when they stopped pooping in the house and started doing it in the garden…or was that one the dogs – it’s all run into a bit of a blur? I even thought they looked cute and not like weird bulbous headed, purple, wrinkly aliens.
However, breastfeeding was excruciatingly painful to start with (and for months and months with Tyger) and every time one of the boys fell asleep on me I desperately needed to pee. The smiling was lovely but the crying happened far more often. They learned how to do things like clap and move around but got horribly frustrated before they managed (which resulted in more crying). They may have tricked my hormonal, sleep dprived mind into thinking they were cute but looking back at photos I’m not convinced and they certainly look better once their heads aren’t all squishy and bald. And there’s the crying. Plus: the lack of sleep (oh, God, the lack of sleep), having to carry around a dead weight all day, the crying, the lack of sleep, the stress of starting solids, the crying, the lack of sleep, the crying…
Yeah, I know toddlers cry too. I know sometimes they cry a lot, too. Tyger tends to cry at least five times before 8am so I get it. He can, however, generally let me know why he’s crying, even if the reason is all the breadsticks left in the box are broken or one of his toys won’t fit in another one or I won’t hoover or I take too long hoovering and he wants his ‘turn’ or he wants to help me with the laundry but I’m making lunch or he wants lunch at 9am. And, yes, it may be the case that most of my responses to his crying are met with, ‘but why??’ and more crying but at least I can respond and at least I know what’s distressing him, no matter how baffling or bemusing I may find it.
With Baby Bear I have to guess. Unless I see him fall or see Tyger smack him over the head with a ukulele (yes, that happened and the jury’s still out on whether it was an accident or not) I have to assume it’s tiredness or trapped wind or teething or…something. It’s incredibly frustrating. I admit Tyger inexplicably spitting on all his toys/himself/the floor/the sofa/other people is also frustrating. Tyger asking – several hundred times a day – if I’m going to do the hoovering and trying to dictate to me which hoover I use is frustrating. Tyger refusing to let anything resembling a vegetable or a full meal or just…food pass his lips is frustrating. Yeah, the tantrums, throwing things, hitting other people and himself, shouting all time are all really frustrating but not in the same way as Baby Bear’s crying. He cries when you pick him up as if he wants to be down and then cries when you put him down like he wants to be held. And I can’t ask him why or…bribe him with a biscuit (well, I’m sure I could but I’m not quite at the point of giving a baby biscuits to shut him up yet).
Baby Bear has recently started crawling, after weeks of almost but not quite part-crawling-part-rolling-part-commando-crawling-part-flailing where he’d just get himself worked up into a rage because he couldn’t quite manage what he wanted. Far from feeling sad he’s now crawling – and by extension growing up – I’m soooo relieved he can finally do it because it’s meant he’s a little happier and easier to deal with.
The other thing that makes Tyger’s behaviour easier to cope with is the fact he may pinch me one minute but he sweetly tells me he loves me the next. Or I know five minutes before he throws himself on the floor in a rage over his Duplo ‘castle’ breaking he went around the room pointing at every one of his toys saying ‘thank you’ (or ‘gankoo’) for them. He gives me hugs and kisses, he makes me pretend cups of tea, he says some of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. As lovely as it is when Baby Bear gives me a high five or smiles or giggles, I can’t wait for him to start talking (more than his current ability to say ‘again’ and ‘Dad’).
I guess what I’m trying to say is: whilst I love my baby, I don’t look longingly at tiny babies in the supermarket, I don’t sniff babies’ heads (I think my two must have been faulty because I still don’t get that whole thing), I don’t well up over little blankets. I’m not a baby person.
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