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Small Talk: A brief bout of baby fever

Jean Gillette hopes you will enjoy some of her earlier columns, in a sympathetic salute to all young moms today.

Excuse me while I dry me eyes. I am having a small midlife crisis.

In an hour or two, I will again rejoice that my two youngsters really have begun to do things for themselves a bit, can spend a good hour entertaining themselves after they wake up in the morning, can tell me where it hurts and what they want to eat for lunch. They are still small and sweet, and I still get lots of wonderful hugs and kisses. But this morning, none of that made me very happy.

It is a very good thing I can still, when I really apply myself, remember just how exhausting the first years with a new baby were for me. Why? Because I just paid a visit to a young friend and her newborn baby girl. 

Oh my. The envy was almost physically painful, and I had to laugh at myself. I was so moved by the presence of this precious, tiny little creature, happily nursing away. I realized that without the barriers of age and good sense, I would still be agonizing over having another. I came home and just indulged in a little cry and then another laugh and decided I should compare my situation to retiring before you lose your title. I walked away a winner before the idea of a baby, any baby, made my legs throb and my back hurt.

For me, that first year with each baby was magic. But I suspect that the knowledge of repeated sleep deprivation and the growing cost of college would have sobered me, even before my body slammed the door shut. As with labor, memories become pleasantly selective as the years slide by. After six-plus years, I can easily close my eyes and transport myself back into the hospital room with my first baby. I remember nursing them both in the dark of night, when there is no one in the world but the two of you, and you feel you can read their little minds and they yours.

I remember being so captivated by their bright eyes, the shape of their little bow mouths. I remember their tiny starfish hands with those precious dimpled knuckles (I hated to see those dimples disappear). I remember just watching them sleep (I still do that). I can still taste those first damp, sweet, amateur kisses.

I have had some lovely moments with my friends’ infants and toddlers. They are cute and chubby, and they have sometimes made me their friend, because they soon figure out that I think they are wonderful. But one thing is missing, that someone else’s baby can never provide. I miss that look saved only for Mommy. It is a pre-language look I saw in my infants’ eyes when I would pick them up for a hug or return from being gone for a while. I was Mommy.

You will never get that look from another infant — I suspect not even from your grandchildren. It is only for Mommy, and it is extraordinary. It overfills the heart and restores the spirit. Another of God’s little tricks, no doubt. Remind me to thank him or her for that. 

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer, smiling and remembering when. Contact her at [email protected]