what is it about the second baby? or is it just joel? i never felt this with ruth. matter of fact, with ruth, we’ve tended to rush everything from crawling to potty training, dragged her to some pretty ridiculous things, constantly jumping the gun, as though competing in an unspoken race against all other young children for our child to do what they do, go where they go, always feeling like we were somehow lagging behind. is that a first child thing?
“i just wish he would stay a baby forever,” i’ve said numerous times to greg since joel was born. it’s true. when people used to hit me with the usual wistful admonition to “enjoy my baby” while ruth was a baby, i would smile knowingly and nod an equally doe-eyed expression back but i was secretly thinking, “are you serious? what’s to enjoy?” people are born with personalities. i can attest to this, although i didn’t always believe it was so. ruth has been ruth from day 1 and possibly even before that. she came out pink and screaming, enraged at the world. my little ruth. innocent angel that she is. with joel, though, i finally understand the expression.
i finally have a baby that i can enjoy. part of it has got to be the second baby thing. i’m no longer anxious for him to reach the next phase because now i know that after that, there will always be another, and another. i can be more content with whatever stage he is in now. when he was a newborn, i never put him down. sure, it could get tiring now and again. but i know that it won’t be long before he will be squirming to get out of my grasp. and not long after that, impossible to catch. just look at ruth these days. it’s hard to get in even a decent hug any more, she’s always on the move, busy lady that she is, and is all skin and bones anyways. nothing to snuggle with. also, by this time, i’m better at rolling with the punches. the phrase that best exemplifies those early days and months with a new first baby is “tough shit”. the most surprising thing about life with a new baby is all of the outrageous and unfair things you are expected to do. really? i need to change her diaper again after just having changed it twice within the past half hour? tough shit. i need to wake up and feed her again after it seems like i just put her down? and then she gets so frustrated with latching on even though my nipple is right in front of her that she can’t latch for fifteen minutes or more? tough shit. i really have to carry around her carrier and all of this baby shit everywhere i go and need to be prepared to leave any place i am if she starts crying and won’t stop? yup. p.s. tough shit. it doesn’t take long before you realize that rolling with the punches is just the name of the game and that the punches never stop rolling in and actually gain intensity as your child ages (at least up to this point, i can vouch for). so, compared with three year old issues, the struggles of baby-dom don’t seem so bad or hard any more.
then, it’s also got to be a joel thing because, unlike ruth, he seems to be your quintessential baby.
odd how ruth always seemed enraged at being a baby. it never suited her. that state was an insult to her very nature, which is fiercely independent and autonomous, aloof and self-contained. three, on the other hand, has “ruth” written all over it. she owns three.
but joel? i never want him to grow up. i want him to be a baby forever. or at least a decade. i might be ready for him to grow up by then. maybe.