Babies have a way of making nearly everyone within a 20-foot radius melt: Strangers coo; friends gasp at every squeal; grandparents are reduced to tears. Along with the mushy outpouring have come meals, well wishes and gifts. All are welcome—in fact, I probably wouldn’t have eaten at all the first few weeks without the baked orzo, salad and enchiladas friends delivered to us.
The one thing I wish no one would gift us, however, is the cheery exhortation to “enjoy every moment.”
Perhaps it’s easy to wish us this because of the nostalgia that wipes out memories of the parts of new parenthood that are not Kodak moments or the fact that strangers usually see us when Edith is either sleeping or contentedly looking around the world. Regardless of why, though, it’s demoralizing to be told that I should love every second of my new life as a mom.
In fact, I hate pumping. I fear that I’ll fall asleep and drop my baby when I try to lull her to sleep by bouncing on an exercise ball at 5:30 in the morning. My toes curl during the excruciating first minute of a latch while Edith demands that milk flow fast enough to splash her tonsils.
Does this mean I love my baby any less? I don’t think so.
I delight in naming every body part I kiss. (“I kiss your knee! I kiss your elbow! I kiss your other elbow!”) I think it’s hilarious when Edie poops on me during our bath time. I can stare for hours at her facial expressions when she sleeps, watching them change like the shadows cast on a landscape during a cloudy day.
I enjoy most moments with her, but certainly not all of them. One particularly crushing morning after almost no sleep, as I dissolved in front of a friend who has an 8-month-old, she nodded knowingly. “It’s ok to be in love and be miserable at the same time,” she told me.
That advice may not have the same Hallmark ring as “enjoy every moment,” but it’s a whole lot more useful.