I park my red hatchback Peugeot on Tata Marie’s busy residential street and ring the doorbell. Moments later I see my little muffin’s smiling face and her little white shoes kicking happily. I also get the progress report of the day, how she ate, how (little) she slept, if she was whimpery. And often my joy at seeing baby again after a (sort of) long day at work turns to worry about my parenting skills if I get a “bad” report. Today for example she was apparently rather demanding if she wasn’t being held. So automatically I wonder if I’ve been giving into her cries too much at home.
What’s wrong with holding your baby too much? My baby bible, Dr. Spock, said that you couldn’t really speak of spoiling a baby before six months. Now she’s seven and a half, and we do see a direct correlation with picking her up and those whimpers stopping cold in their tracks. Maybe I just have a low tolerance for crying, or maybe she’s just so very cuddly. But I also know that subconsciously or not, having a baby for me meant having another little companion here in France. Before she was born I would talk to myself as I made pies or quiches and imagine I was telling baby about the ingredients or that we were making papa a nice surprise. I know of course that I can’t lean on her to be my friend. That’s too much to ask of a child. On this matter Dr. Spock only warns that children need parents, not (just) friends. They do need limits.
At any rate I’m finding that I’m still in the training period for motherhood. Just when you’ve got one thing mastered, a new challenge comes along. Just when you think you’re starting to get ahead on laundry, those super diapers no longer hold out over night. And the contradictions still keep coming. Like groaning at midnight when baby wakes me up, but yearning to see her when she sleeps late (till 8 a.m.). Or being content to hold baby next to me after that day of work, but also wondering when I’ll get around to those million things I need to do, like clean the bathroom and check my email.
To be continued…