Saturday, January 14, 2012

Miscellaneous Reflections on Life With My Daughter

Ever since Bernadette started smiling, I see a personality emerging. It's almost as if her baby-ness is gradually melting away, revealing a distinct character that isn't so much me or so much Dan. She is definitely her own person, one who strikes me as a very old soul. Sometimes it feels like she's this really cool chick who just decided to be our baby, and I get the feeling we're going to have to make ourselves a bit more interesting if she's gonna hang with us long term.

B is obviously way more social than either of us. But if she's happy, we're happy, so we've been entertaining more visitors in the last couple months than in the previous two years combined. Oh, she also makes us way more popular than we could ever be on our own. She's cuter than us, too.

Raising a baby in the Facebook age is weird but mostly awesome. I love that B's long-distance admirers can watch her grow in pictures and videos. I mean, it's nothing like the real thing but it's way better than nothing. Managing that visual stream is an odd responsibility. For grandparents alone, I feel morally obligated to post photos regularly. At the same time, I recognize that doing so is a quick and sleazy way to score something I call "Facebook fix". Facebook fix is that tiny jolt you get when you see the little red globe lit up with endless likes and adoring comments. Nothing gets you a bigger Facebook fix than posting super cute pictures of your baby. My question is, when I get off on that, how very different am I from a "Toddlers & Tiaras" mom? So if you wish that I would share Bernie photos more often, please know that I don't mean to deprive you any pleasure. I just don't wanna feel like an icky attention whore.

I can't believe that this little person is so soothed by the sound of my singing voice. "Hey, Baby! What's the matter? Oh, nothing a little cable karaoke can't fix? I'm on it." Many a time Bernadette has mellowed to my rendition of Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam's "Lost in Emotion" as I dance her in the sling. This makes no sense to me, but it works and it's fun. Then there are my Diaper Time Ditties, a cappella versions of songs I know by heart - The Chords "Sh'boom", The Beatles "In My Life", They Might Be Giants "Birdhouse in Your Soul". She really digs that last one, so yesterday I added this to the repertoire ~

She loved it so much. Her face was a non-stop smile fest, and when she's smiling she relaxes and it's easier to put her diaper on. Sometimes singing is the only way to get through diaper time without a lot of crying. Those are the moments when I find the tone of my forced happy a cappella voice a little creepy, because I know how stressed I feel inside. The repetition doesn't help my sense of frustration. Perhaps I need to add more selections to the Diaper Time Ditties catalog, just to make it more fun and interesting. I do believe we've got some Cole Porter on deck.

I'm so glad Bernadette has a really nice dad, one who can't wait to get home to her when his work is done. Dan calls B "baby drugs", I suppose because he's been jonesing for her all day.

I'm so grateful to him for busting ass so I don't have to know how that feels. With the exception of this past Sunday, when my sister M babysat and the two of us went out on a date, I haven't been away from B for more than three hours at a time. This is what my life has been these past few months and this is how it'll be for a few months more. It's awesome. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Everyone who has adult children tells us to enjoy this time. I know several parents of small children who find that shit annoying. The problem with getting that advice from the former is that they don't seem to recollect the tribulations experienced by the latter. No, I did not enjoy those evenings during the first four weeks when Bernadette would scream for two straight hours. But I do find I'm unusually present these days which puts me in a good position for enjoying the little things. For someone so prone to nostalgia, I've spent little time mourning my pre-baby existence. I do have a recurring dream in which I can't quite make it to the karaoke bar (a personal symbol for all foregone freedom), but I'll gladly leave that yearning to my subconscious. My conscious mind is mostly focused on this baby and helping her become the best Bernie she can be. I'm luckily blessed with a propensity for patience, and a baby who happens to love living room karaoke.


  1. Thanks for this; though y'all are obviously lucky to have Bernadette, she's lucky too to have such terrific parents, even if their heartfelt postings will never get certain friends to find any value whatsoever in They Might Be Giants. I wouldn't worry about any kind of Facebook syndrome, either. That's what "Your Status Is Annoying" or whatever that site's called is for, I reckon. ;)

    1. Ooh, SNAP! I guess TMBG is an acquired taste. Have people annoyingly assumed you're a fan just as Harry Potter enthusiasts have annoyingly assumed I've read and obsessed over the canon? Sorry about that. And thanks for the compliment : ) I'm not too worried about Facebook, either. The fix isn't so strong now that I have an iPad. So many perty colors...

  2. You get it, Tara. Being a parent is a compilation of living in the present through the small moments and total noise and chaos. It is precisely all of these small--and loud--moments that add up to be a sound childhood. Make sure you keep on the karaoke. Dates are very important too.
    So Happy for You,

    1. Thanks so much, Tawny! One of the reasons I love our pediatrician is that he strongly recommends date nights. And I must say, it was way more date-like than anything we've done in a long time. We got dressed up and went to a fancier-than-usual restaurant. Then we talked about the baby a lot, but that was great, too. Being rare makes the occasion more special, I suppose.