“She is the lightest sleeper we’ve ever had,” said Bill after I relocated a seemingly comatose baby from my bed to the bassinet wistfully thinking I could stretch out without regard for a tiny life form next to me. Within seconds she started kicking, and then her eyes opened.
She’s not our lightest sleeper. She’s just like all the others.
We have video footage of infant Fritz fast asleep in his father’s arms. Bill raised his little arm high, and then let it drop like a dead weight. This kid was out cold. And yet, as soon as he touched the crib, he would wake up. We tried everything: placing him on a warmed blanket, hovering over him for back-breaking minutes, using background noises to distract him from the transition. Eventually he outgrew it and would sleep through fireworks, but, oh, those early months were exhausting.
And they’re mainly exhausting for me. Sure, Bill makes sure he gets in that video or the photos to prove that he does in fact physically care for our children. Cleverly, though, he has relegating the creation of family archives to me; therefore, he plays the role of sensitive, caring father in a disproportionate number of snapshots. I can’t very well take a picture of myself.
But honestly there’s not much he can do anyway. He’ll be the first to tell you that all our kids seem to divide the people of the world into two categories: The Momma and Not The Momma. They have a decided preference for The Momma, and he is most definitely Not The Momma.
When Fritz was about 6 weeks old, my parents came into town for his baptism and met him for the first time. My mom, naturally, really wanted to hold her new grandbaby. But she was Not The Momma. Every time I handed him over, he would wail. Finally, he fell asleep, and she was able to indulge in that sweet foretaste of heaven.
I truly love holding babies. I wouldn’t mind doing it all day, really. But somebody has to do the laundry, and somebody has to cook dinner, and toddlers (and older kids) need lap time too. As much as I love holding babies, I think I hate the idea of my house falling apart more, and I really, really like to take a shower a few times a week at least. So, I try to pawn my little baby off on others, even if it’s for ten or fifteen minutes.
But if Bill is Not The Momma, brothers and sisters who jiggle a little too roughly are even more so Not The Momma.
The bassinet is definitely Not The Momma.
The swing and the car seat are Not The Momma.
The bed is Not The Momma, but sometimes, if all the planets are in the proper alignment and The Momma is right there next to her, the baby might be content. But if The Momma ever so gently, and slowly, and quietly leaves the bed to go take a shower, the bed instantly reverts to full Not The Momma status and sleep for baby and anybody within the house is rendered impossible.
I marvel at babies who happily go into the arms of any friendly person. That’s completely foreign to my own experience.
I’m trying hard to cherish these fleeting days of exaltation. Being The Momma is as close to being a goddess as I suppose I’ll ever get. In a few weeks, my little one will accept the warm arms of a loving substitute – at least while she’s sleeping. Then, week by week, she’ll be a bit more content to swing or to let an older sibling entertain her. And even though all my kids still seem to fight over me and want to sit as close to me as is physically possible, there are times for them when The Momma is definitely not their favorite person and they are convinced that other relatives would make better (more sympathetic) caretakers.
So, I’ll accept my demi-deity role, knowing that with such glory comes much work, and as the work load wanes, so, too, will the glory.