Putting the ‘F’ in Fun

My father and I were driving Rex home from daycare the other day and he told me something that I found very interesting: “You were so much fun when you were little.”  

Fun? I had a really hard time wrapping my brain around this – although not because I doubted that I was fun. By all accounts, I was a laugh riot when I was a kid.  What I had a hard time getting was that babies can be fun.  My overwhelming experience thus far with Rex could not be classified as ‘fun’.  Anything but fun.

image: Duncan Creamer via Creative Commons

A few days later, my parents baby sat Rex for a few hours while Mr. X and I went to a classic car auction.

When we returned, my father reported that Rex was great fun to be around.  And, I began to see him through my dad’s eyes.  His excited little leg jig when he wanted something.  His giggle when tickled in just the right spot.  His overall zest and joy for life.  Rex is fun alright.  He is truly a joy to behold.


Yesterday, Rex shared with me some of his capacity for fun.  He was on our bed, on his back (in his cockroach pose, I call it – arms and legs in the air swinging madly because he wants to get over on his hands and knees) and I was shaking his little bottom by swinging his legs back and forth.  He LOVED every minute of it – from the shake to the slalom.   And, I admit it: I had fun with him. His little old man heh-heh-heh laugh made me laugh every time which sent him into further paroxysms of joy.

Then, I had this overwhelming urge and held him close to my chest while kissing him on his big fat cheek and I thought, babies can be fun. Who knew?

Tempus Fugit and Forget It

Rex turned seven months old on Sunday.  In response to a picture of Rex I posted on my Facebook page that evening, one friend said, “didn’t he just turn six months?! Time flies it seems for everyone.

Except us.

These last seven months have been some of the longest of my life, no doubt in part due to the fact that I’ve been awake far more during their waking and non-waking hours than I would care to think about.  Even after we all started sleeping for longer periods, though, the time alternately dragged or flew.  I think this is because our lives are still in a state of flux as Rex grows and changes almost literally before our eyes.  Time seems to fly when things are routine, but when things are constantly changing, you don’t have time to get used to the new normal, let alone get into a groove that lets the time fly by.

But, why would you want time to fly, you ask?  I read so often new mothers with babies of Rex’s age and even younger wanting to keep their babies this age for all eternity.  And, I frankly have to admit, I don’t get it.  I really don’t.  I can’t wait until my child can feed himself and begin to communicate with us even if it’s sign language for “give me food, bitch!”  He has already started being able to give himself a bottle and it’s been this side of heaven for me. Look Ma, no hands! I can put him in the boppy with a bottle and gaze lovingly upon him as he stretches out like a fat cat nonchalantly sucking down his Similac Crack.

Still, there’s that little voice in my head that says, “remember this time. It will be gone before you know it and the kid will be 5 and no longer suffer your hugs and kisses.”  Right now, the overwhelming part of me says, “please, let’s get to 5. At least then he can wipe his own behind.”

Part of my antsy-ness to get him out of babyhood has to do with the fact that even though I’ve been taking care of an infant for seven months now, I still feel like I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.  Sure, I can diaper him up in 15 seconds while lecturing him on proper changing table etiquette (twisting one’s body to get to the baby lotion is not acceptable while mommy is trying to cover your boy parts) and I can feed him a jar of pureed chicken and rice without getting too much on him or me.  But, I still don’t feel competent, in charge, in control of the situation.  And boy does that bug me.  Still.

Part of me thinks that once he reaches that age that I can talk with him, I can at least try to have a conversation with him in which we can discuss such serious topics as poop, pee and other topics of inherent interest to the below 3 set.  For now, he is full of grunts, screeches, screams, and singing notes going over several octaves.  He’s right where’s supposed to be developmentally. I’m just the one with the itchy finger on the fast-forward button because there’s still not a whole lot that we can do together.

Remind me of this, will you, when I’m lamenting that he’s 5 and I can’t believe how the time has flown?

image: Monceau

Little Do I Know

A few years ago, when we were well into the infertility and miscarriage slog, but Rex was no where in sight, I happened to look out my window at home and see a touching family portrait: mom walking her little girl in a stroller while sporting an obvious baby bump.  As usual, my blood boiled and I mentally cursed the universe for subjecting me to this scene at such a low point in our lives.  I didn’t know the neighbor, they had moved in a few months before. All I knew was that they had one kid and were on the way to having another and that was more than I had or could even imagine having.

That second child was born in October of that year, right around the time of both of my prior due dates.  Mr. X and I happened to be taking a walk one afternoon, shortly after the new baby came home and we met him, being borne around in the arms of his proud papa.  I made all of the right congratulatory noises even though I was still just as pissed inside.

If I had known then what I know now:

That their first child was the product of IVF.  That the second child was an oops only 8 months after the first one since they didn’t think they had a chance of conceiving naturally.

I found this out from their next door neighbors (really, in our neighborhood, there is no such thing as a secret, depending upon who you talk to).  Their daughter also dealt with infertility and just had a baby through a surrogate, using IVF.

I could have learned this information much sooner if I had been more outgoing during our struggles.  But, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, least of all mothers of small children.  They would be just like all the rest of the fertile population – blissfully unaware of the difficulties of life and telling me that having kids has been the greatest thing they could have ever done with their life, blah, blah, blah.

Oh, how we are own greatest enemies.  I could have found additional support from these ladies (well, maybe not the lady with the grown daughter.  She was a bit …. much).  I could have seen that the world isn’t nearly as black and white as I had made it out to be – and me being a lawyer, too, for shame!

But, that time is gone and I’m glad that I do know, even if it’s a little late.  I was able to share with this neighbor our struggle to have Rex and how we too benefited from IVF.  She got it, even though we both have the families that we wanted, she still got it.

And I learned that it’s never too late to reach out.

image: Steve Took It

I Am Not Extraordinary

My parents were masters of making me feel like I was the smartest most fabulous kid out there.  In hindsight, I see that I was the only fish in their pond and so of course, I would have all of these superlatives thrown at me. Plus, I was quite the over achiever and they were “modern parents”.

As I grew up and waded into larger and larger ponds, though, I began to realize that while I was still pretty darn special (special in a good way, not in a knowing wink-wink way), there were literally thousands of kids just like me.  What was worse, there were thousands of kids who were smarter, more talented and more everything than me.  That was hard to realize and even harder to accept.

These days, I am mostly comfortable with who I am and what I’ve accomplished.  I finally realized that I needed to compare myself only to the plan that I had for my life, not with the accomplishments of others. On that scale, I’m doing pretty darned well.

Some days, though, that’s hard.  Like when you hear an interview with a woman who is your age and has just won a MacArthur Genius Grant.  What have I done with my life that would warrant a $500,000 no strings attached grant?

Nada. Zilch-o. Zippity-Do-Nah.

And you know what? That’s ok.

I admit, it did burn a little, even though I desired to be a marine biologist for about 5 minutes when I was 7 (although what girl didn’t dream about being a marine biologist when they were younger? I swear, for a few years there  it was the stock answer to the question of your future career).

Mr. X and I discussed this question of extraordinary-ness on one of our recent evening walks with Rex (who added to the conversation by babbling and gurgling from behind his little red stroller curtain).  He is very wise, Mr. X.  He reminded me that the measure of my life is the love that it is in it and what I do to make me happy.   Rex raspberried at that moment, probably to reinforce this.

He’s right. As usual.  Right, right and right.  And I know that I am happy with who I am, whether or not I’m given $500,000 for being fabulous.  Maybe I should start playing the lottery, though, just in case.