I recently had a conversation with a friend about how much life babies suck out of their mamas. Yes, they suck vast quantities of milk, but also, they suck away our time, energy, sleep and general equilibrium. Babies are cute vampires.
The reason babies are so freaking adorable is because otherwise, parents would be like, “What the hell? Why would I devote so much to something that’s actually a vampire?” That’s why babies smile and gurgle and have itsy pink toes that are practically edible. Because otherwise we’d be swathing ourselves in garlic.
As much as I love my kids, I sometimes wonder why I procreated. What’s the payback? Is there payback? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. But people keep having babies anyway. We’re slaves to our DNA and can’t help replicating. Even when it ruins our quality of life, at least in the short term.
And I’m in what I call the parenting “sweet spot.” I’ve almost forgotten the days of sleep deprivation. The days when I felt I’d accomplished something if I managed to take a shower and shave my legs. The days when those helpless little critters I’d birthed needed my attention for 90 minutes out of every hour (that’s not a typo).
Some babies are hard, some are less so. My first was, as my childbirth education teacher, says, “High needs.” She’d cry so I’d feed her, change her diaper, then carry her until she fell asleep. Then she’d wake up and projectile vomit her dinner. She’d cry. I’d rinse, lather, repeat. Now I realize that she probably had reflux, because she rarely was comfortable sleeping unless she was upright and she vomited regularly for months. We called her the splatter monster. My entire life centered around nursing her, carrying her, nursing her again, and trying to keep up with spoiled milk-scented laundry. By the time she was a year old, I was about 20 pounds underweight. But I had boobs like Dolly Parton. Thank God I’ll never look like that again.
My boy, on the other hand, was infinitely easier. That is, until he started using my nipples as chew toys. He truly was vampiric — sucking my blood with my milk. Luckily, he was old enough to wean (22 months) by the time he got toothy. I tell him his first real paycheck will go to my breast lift surgery fund.
Both my conversation with my friend and the past few weeks reminded me of those newborn days. Because we’ve been the flu house. And sick kids can really suck some time and energy from mamas, regardless of their ages. Luckily, while the swine flu (if that’s what they had, according to a doctor’s educated guess) made my kids feel yucky and snotty, it didn’t produce the gamut of bodily fluids. I’ll take the porcine flu any day over the exploding intestinal flu my kids contracted a few years ago.
And I’ll even take eye-rolling pre-adolescence and non-stop sibling squabbling over vampiric babyhood. Though I wouldn’t mind nibbling on some pink baby toes now and again.
Anne Fitten “Edgy Mama” Glenn writes about a number of subjects, including parenting, at www.edgymama.com.