A new parent's first month races by in a blur of diapers and bottles. The goal? Survival. Don't break the baby, don't wake the baby and don't shake the baby. Learn and love the baby. I thought I had it down. Especially the love part. “Man, little Joseph is so cool,” I'd constantly think to myself.
But then came my big second-month lesson.
It happened when we were house-sitting at Grandma's place. At bedtime, I laid my little dude down in the roomy crib with the adorable wasp blanket that went with it. The bedroom doubles as a nursery for visiting grandkids, and it even has a rocking chair!
At home, Joseph's area doubles as the main artery to the bathroom, living room and kitchen/bedroom in our tiny apartment. Now, I know he isn't old enough to realize that Mommy and Daddy are youngish and poorish. We struggle. He can't yet understand that our financial plan won't allow us a bigger place for months.
No, he doesn't know all that, but I do.
Seeing him so happy and comfy brought tears to my eyes. Don't get me wrong, it's not like he sleeps in a garbage can at home. His space is clean and neat, and he even has glow-in-the-dark stars. But his bassinet is small and he doesn't like to sleep in it. Watching him in the crib, I felt furious with myself for not being richer in time for his arrival.
And that's when I felt it.
An overwhelming tidal wave of fierce love for my son. An iron resolve to do Whatever It Takes to give him the best possible scenario on every given day.
Starting with the crib situation. My husband and I worked extra this month and got creative with our budget. We hunted down a new crib that fits our place and our wallets, along with a new bedding set to tie the room together. Solid.
Last month I wrote about how all the clichés of parenting that I'd heard were true. So is this one: You simply can't understand the love and connection to a child until you have your own. I didn't even understand it fully until the crib situation. I also learned something else.
Remember the Bad English ballad, “When I See You Smile”? It goes, “When I see you smile, I can do anything...”
Well guess what? A. You're lucky to read that line and not have me sing it in person and B. The lyrics totally could apply to my favorite developmental milestone at this age. Which is (you guessed it) smiling!
I melted the first time baby Joey cracked open his giant toothless grin. Now about 75 percent of my day is spent making that happen. Hop around and pretend I'm a moose? You betcha. Make up a song for the crinkly, jingley Mister Lizard to sing? Of course. Nothing is beneath me in trying to snatch a smile. I get super excited, even if he inspires himself, as I suspect was the case with last night's big-wattage number.
Sitting in his bathtub with the Duckie family, Joey gazed fondly at me as the hugest smile yet splashed across his face. Just as I got smug about his love for me, a 'natural waterfall' splashed onto the scene. His smile grew even bigger watching Mommy laugh so hard she had to guard against her own waterfall...
Like month one, the second month has been a blur at times. But if parenting is a lesson, this month we learned to man the chaos and appreciate it. We're slowly getting more sleep and more confidence in our roles. This month, we learned how to survive and help Joey (and his smiles) thrive. Whatever It Takes.