Not The Momma

“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.

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11 thoughts on “Not The Momma

  1. Oh yes, “not the Mamma”. I remember it well. I could also hold a baby all day, but you are right, there is work (and showers) to get accomplished.

  2. Have you ever used a sling? All of my kids were like that, too. However, after much trial and error, we could put them down still in their sling. I sometimes would even nurse them in bed in their sling, so that I could transfer them afterward. Still, they woke up, but sometimes they slept and it definitely helped me get the “housework” done. Also, I would love to have some type of mesh sling that I could take in the shower. Then, I could soap up baby and me at the same time. As it is, I waited until they could sit up, then took them in with me and sat them on the floor.

  3. Oh, I can so relate to the photo thing. We have tons of pictures of Tim with the kids, but there have only been 3 of me in the last 4 years! Tim doesn’t do cameras. At all. It would NEVER occur to him to take my picture. The sling thing never worked well for me, I was always leaning over (to tie a shoe, wipe up…) and the baby would threaten to fall out!This time of “only Mommy will do” does slowly ease, as you know well. It is just hard when you are in the midst of those first few weeks of no sleep, lots of needy children, and a general post-partum fog. Have a glass of wine, it will do you both good.

  4. A mesh sling…hmmm…that might be a brilliant idea. Wonder if it would work.I like the sling for shopping and walking the dog, but I think it gets in the way when I’m doing household things like the dishes…or tying shoes as Kat mentions.But, the glass of wine sounds like a superb idea…

  5. I never mastered doing much housework with a sling either. Maybe I’m just a klutz–but I always was afraid the little one would get hurt.I’m glad you can find moments to appreciate her “not the Mamma” time even when you are pining for a shower and a moment of quiet.

  6. I had four just like that, Michelle. I am still amazed when I see a baby sitting happily in its car seat for an entire Mass, or being pushed in a stroller around the block. Not mine, noooo! They lived in a snugly. I know some people prefer the sling, but mine wanted to be upright — nosy little buggers. I also found it easier to have their weight centered in front of me. I could take care of the other kids, cook, sweep, do laundry, and even iron with them in there. Loved having my arms free with a snoozing baby in front. Of course, in their bed would have be infinitely better. :o)By the way, have the kids push a chair up to the kitchen counter and sit there for you to tie their shoes with the baby in the sling/snugly. Just remind them, of course, the only time they get to sit on the counter is when you say it’s o.k.

  7. Although I have come to terms with being relegated to NTM (Not The Momma) status I must defend myself on one point.If The Momma is holding the wee one, what do you think she is doing? That’s right; Nursing. So how shall I take a picture of said hot momma and babe? Anne Liebowitz, I am not. Furthermore, there is the issue of the effect of the flash, and I don’t mean the bright light either.

  8. Amen! All my kids are like this, too, and I don’t mind. It’s good to be The Momma.

  9. This is SO true. But, as you recognize, being The Momma is such an honor that, really, we wouldn’t want to give it up no matter how inconvenient and exhausting it can be.I had to laugh about the dad amnesia. A few weeks after Isabella was born, someone asked Jay how she was doing. Right in front of me he said, “Great! She’s sleeping through the night!” I looked at him as if he had lost his mind and gently corrected him, “No, honey, YOU are sleeping through the night.” We both laughed extensively over that one because, seeing as he’s Not The Mamma, there’s no point in getting him up at night anyway–at least one of us will get some sleep that way!Enjoy these precious months…and I’m so glad to read Mary is gaining weight. We are praying for you both.

  10. i can so relate to that post!

  11. Here is a nice glass of wine. And some espresso laced brownies. Wow …regarding the flash! LOLAren’t Catholics so earthy? I love it!

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