By Lisa Sugarman
So I did this thing today that I’m probably going to regret. And I can’t seem to get it off my mind. So what do I generally do when something’s on my mind and I can’t scrape it off? I write about it so that it gets onto your mind too and I feel a little less burdened. You know, spreading the load around makes it easier to carry.
What did I do? Well, I picked up my friend’s new six-week-old son and held him, dumbass that I am. Big mistake. Huge. Because in picking him up, I saw, very clearly and probably too closely, how ridiculously cute and squishy he was, and I had an instant and almost primitive reaction to holding him in my arms. Which was, of course, followed immediately by a very intense moment of envy. What can I say, my kids and most of my friends’ kids are grown and at least a foot taller than me, so babies have become kind of a novelty.
See for me, well us really, that door has been permanently closed, boarded up, and buried deep in the ground in a block of cement. A lot like what the mafia does with their bodies. So short of an Immaculate Conception that puts us into extra innings, the baby game is over for us. And, for the most part, I’m perfectly content with the houseful of teenage daughters I have right now and have no real desire to do it all over again. Especially because when I look at mommies and their new babies now—schlepping around all that gear and chasing their kids down the escalator—all I can think of is, How the hell did I ever do that? Not to mention the fact that even though my oldest is only sixteen, it feels like three lifetimes ago that we were in that baby stage.
Now although I’m [mostly] in love with the phase my kids are in now, I’m not going to lie to you, there are times, more than a few, that I’d love to just scrunch my daughters back down to their original toddler form and relive the magical days when they were little. Because let’s face it, it was a helluva lot easier to parent a couple of knee-high-size kids who worshipped the ground I walked on. Just toss them into the baby bucket or the BabyBjorn and off you go. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.
I mean, like anything, there are always challenges and stresses, even when our kids are little. But I really do believe that those stresses are relative to size. Little issues for little guys; big issues for big guys. And you really only realize once they’re grown how easy and manageable it was to have these life-size Cabbage Patch dolls who followed you around and lived to be in the same room with you. Just change a diaper here and there, whip, whip, whip (as my mother would say) and you’re on your way. Maybe address a few hair-pulling issues, keep them away from open flames, and make sure they don’t eat too much Beta-caroteen so it doesn’t tint their cheeks orange. Otherwise, babies are a cake walk.
And the cuteness factor is just ridiculous. Whether they’re awake or asleep or covered in their own Farina, they’re just so damn adorable that it’s hard not to want to travel back in time to when they were little and vulnerable and dependent on you for everything. I mean every phase of their growth and development leads to cuter and more endearing phases. I remember holding Riley for hours and hours when she was a newborn. Just drinking in everything about her, amazed and awed by what I (oh, right, we) had created. And so it’s hard, at times, not to miss that delicious little person.
Because I really do miss that version of my kids. I miss how cuddly and mushy and innocent and baby-wipes-fresh-smelling they were. They were so portable and easy to entertain and just so loveable. God, they were loveable. And when I held my daughter’s friend Margaret’s baby brother John in my arms the other night, I was swallowed whole by his cuteness. We just sat there, staring at each other. Him not knowing me and me not knowing him, yet we had so much to say to each other. None of which either of us could understand because my ridiculous baby talk was just as unintelligible as his gurgling little spit bubbles. But we connected. We shared a moment. And it made me incredibly nostalgic. I can’t help myself. I love babies. I’m weak.
But while I sometimes crave the opportunity to pull the original version of my kids out of a shoebox in the back of my closet, I know I can never go back. We’re not supposed to go back. And as much as I’d love to be able to spend time with my sweet little girlies, I can’t get too depressed because they are actually still here. They’re just taller and have better skin and hair than their mother.
What’s exciting, though, is the idea that someday down the line (way, way, waaaaaaaaay down the line) I’ll have new versions of my kids to satisfy my cravings. I believe those are called “grandchildren”. I just need to be patient. Very patient. And then the cycle will repeat itself. What’s that famous song from the Lion King, “Circle of Life.” Only this time, I’ll have them in wonderfully limited doses and only when they’re on their best behavior and smelling all flowery, which is really my preference.
So in the meantime, I’m going to do my best to restrain myself from grabbing strange babies when I’m out in the general population and maybe just keep an old copy of One Fish, Two Fish next to my bed just to satisfy any spontaneous urges.