31 January 2009

The Kindness of Strangers, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Wail

They say that babies don’t come with a manual, but that isn’t entirely accurate. After a few sleepless nights and senseless worrying about completely normal infant behaviour (sleeplessness, crying for seemingly no reason) I begged Bruce to order us What to Expect in the First Year. I suspect it will serve much the same purpose as that initial pregnancy bible, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which I only referenced in times of extreme uncertainty or distress. It didn’t always help, but it does give you a momentary sense of purpose, and the fleeting impression that you’re in control - even mothers need security blankets, see.

My sister-in-law is over and I’m stealing a few moments to check emails, drink a cup of decaf and do a few basic things hands-free before they are once more filled with infant need. Starting Monday, the two of us will be left to our own devices when Bruce goes back to work, and rather than panic about it, I’m just going to go with the flow and do what I’ve been doing all along – feeding, changing, settling and then co-sleeping away those hours of down time when he needs nothing else except rest.

Last night at some ungodly hour, I tore open the poppers on the legs of a new little sleeper our neighbour gave us as a gift recently, and a massive black spider scurried out from inside it and across the covers. Rather than lose my shit as I’m wont to do around spiders, I scooped it up in a soiled baby vest, crushed it and tossed a shirt over the minor massacre, reaching instead for the adorable ducky vest that my excellent internet friend Lass sent through the mail (thanks Lass!) (Well I wasn’t going to put him in the spider sleeper, as it will henceforth be known - at least to me, and until I’ve washed it a few dozen times to be sure there are no remnants of spider or microscopic spider eggs).

*Also in the package from our kind Lass was an incredibly cool little bib that will come in handy when he’s older and onto solids, and some lovely burp cloths for when I’m able to fit back into the tops I actually care about (having breasts isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, especially when they have the potential to win you the wet t-shirt contest you didn’t intend to enter).

I’m still amazed at how something as uncommon as a new baby - especially in the virile, ever-multiplying district of Muswell Hill - can inspire kindness in the most unlikely of people: namely neighbours we’ve never met or ones who’ve expressed no prior interest in knowing us.

But then it’s not until you’ve had one that suddenly, all the things that once pissed you off about crying, weird-looking potato-headed little people start to become the very things you grin your face off about, such as when you’re in a restaurant and someone’s offspring suddenly bursts out into a chorus of Waaaaah, waaaaah, waaaahs. Even in the middle of the night, there’s no denying that this is the happiest, most life-affirming sound you will ever know.

*photos to follow when His Sleeplessness properly wakes from his fitful nap

1 comment:

thelass said...

Glad the package arrived in good shape (and sans spiders - ick).