Thwarting the Straps

I assembled C’s swing when I was eight months pregnant. We put it in her nursery adjacent to the changing table, but by the time she was one week old, it had been relocated to our living room along with all the items we found to be truly necessary to life with a newborn. I always felt a little let down that we didn’t use her room right away. I had visualized parenthood looking a certain way, and I wanted the setting to be her room. Her first night home, we put her in her bassinet, closed the door, and were frustrated that every 20 minutes she was up. We had become parents over the weekend but we were dumb, naively expecting a houseguest who would take us up on our offer to help herself to whatever she needed and then politely retire for the night. Instead we got a crying melon.

C in swing editThe swing came with straps, and Fisher Price let us know in no uncertain terms that unless we used all of them to secure her down, she wouldn’t live to see her first birthday. We snapped our tiny baby into her nest and let her rock while we took our places on the floor next to her, just to watch. She nestled in tight, unable to move even if she wanted to.

By week three, the straps had been abandoned for the obvious reason that our daughter was a taco. She was too big for my body but too small for the world, and securing her with the straps was as unnecessary a precaution as telling her not to take our car out for a spin at midnight. We swaddled her up, placed her in her swing, and watched her sway left to right over and over, filling up our home with her tinyness. Her number one safety mechanism was her own inability and lack of motivation to move and explore.

But then she grew. I really don’t know how this happened. Several people I’m close to are pregnant right now and I keep finding myself telling them to hold on tight to the tiny, quiet moments that are so specific to newborn life. The amount of self loathing I take on when I tell them to brace themselves for that baby smell – not just generic baby smell but that your-very-own-baby-that-is-yours-and-will-always-be-yours smell – is staggering. I hated it when people told me how exactly I was going to feel about parenthood before the baby was on the outside. They didn’t know my brain! And what if I didn’t feel that way when I saw her? What if that smell didn’t hit me on the requisite gut level? What if she grew and I never even felt nostalgia for the entirely different life we all enjoyed together only a couple months before? I find myself saying these things and hating myself for it but having no other words because this time goes by just.so.fast and those straps are going to be not-in-use for a far shorter time than they will be in use.

I’ve talked before about C’s magical shirt that gave her the ability to levitate out of the Pack ‘N Play when I was showering. It turns out that the shirt’s only magic is located in the girl who wears it. I know this because this little girl who has found a way to manipulate time climbed out of her Pack N’ Play during my shower. The Pack N’ Play: a far greater obstacle than that swing. Before I could tell her to stop, she climbed into the shower with me, fully-clothed, giggling the entire time and completely aware of the feat she had just accomplished.

My big girl never knew I was tearing up beyond the water.

From here, it goes fast. I thought it was fast before, but I was wrong. I am hoping and praying that the world keeps creating situations where my mama tears can be masked by water when the girl thwarts the straps.

sand

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49 comments

  1. Teresa P. · · Reply

    C. is precious and lovely just like her mama. Mom

  2. First of all, if I may curse here, your daughter is too fucking cute! Secondly, I miss the new baby smell too. G$ was feisty in his crib last night and asked me to “hold you” when I went in to tell him to please shut his pie hole before mommy and I snap. He normally just screams louder and wants his mommy to hold him. It’s a youngest son thing, I get it. I took advantage of the invite and rocked while he laid on my chest and I rested my cheek on the back of his head. I’d missed the baby on the chest days so this was nice and I may or may not have rocked him an hour more than necessary after he fell asleep. I don’t care what anyone says, the time flies when you have little ones. My daughter was talking about what classes she wants to take in middle school last night and all I could think is, “how is this happening already??” lol. Ok, I’m done.

    1. You totally get it. I feel like I should rename my blog to TheyGrowUpTooFastAndThatsAllEmilyTalksAbout.com, but it is so true! Take all the hours you need to rock the baybay because, as you know, they are so numbered.

  3. And the funny thing is – it just gets better and better. Make sure you take lots of videos so one day you can look back on everything that you would have forgotten.

    1. I am trying to remember to take a bunch more videos! It’s crazy because the videos we took only about six months ago seem so outdated now.

  4. My Muted Voice · · Reply

    Ah, Emily, this made me tear up! Some days I feel like time is moving so slow and others it seems like it’s not actually going slow, but so fast that I can’t feel it move. In the same day my son started noticeably copying me and my movements, he went into the kitchen, pointed at an Apple and said “Appie”. My eyes welled up and I was so proud and at the same time I thought, wow, are we already there?

    1. I think our kids are about the same age, so I completely know what you’re talking about when you say that you well up when he says “apple.” I mean, not even a year ago my kid was barely walking and now she can basically run backwards. Crazyballs.

  5. I never knew how quickly time passed until I saw it reflected in the face of my first child. It hurts my heart.

    1. It hurts so bad. I am kind of beginning to see why a lot of people start trying to get pregnant when their kids are about C’s age.

  6. I love that story! You are such a beautiful writer and all these moments you’ve written about will someday make a great gift for your daughter. I miss that baby smell. Every so often when I catch a rare cuddle with my teenager, I lean over and smell his hair. Spoiler alert: the baby smell is eventually replaced with BO and in my case, cologne of some sort.

    1. Thank you! I have to remind myself to find the time to write this stuff down because these moments are just so fleeting, just like that new baby smell.

  7. Way to make all mopey this morning. Thanks a lot.

    But I get you, girl. I have to say, I think about this almost every day now. The flip side to being aware of how gut wrenching it can be to feel them slipping away, little by little, is that it helps you stop and be present more often.

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful post.

    1. And boy oh boy, I am working so hard at being present more. It’s harder than I thought it would be to just tune out life and be there for her, but I have never once regretting reading one more book, giving her one more kiss, singing one more song, and leaving an email unanswered for the day. Priorities are a bitch but they are so good for the soul. Thanks, friend ;D

  8. They do grow up too fast, huh? Sometimes I don’t realize how much my daughter has grown until I take a minute to remember how she used to be.

    1. I have to do the same thing too. This time last year, my daughter couldn’t even walk. Now she can run away from me. It’s quite a juxtaposition.

  9. It does go fast, but each stage offers something new. I always tried to ‘imprint’ special moments in my mind. For example, if I was holding my baby in a special embrace, I’d note the sounds, smells, sights, etc. around me, hoping I could always recall that moment clearly in the future. And it actually worked! I have some very special moments throughout both my kids’ childhood that I can conjure at will. Your daughter is adorable, by the way!

    1. Imprinting is just so incredibly important. When it comes down to it, this is what my entire blog is really, essentially about: just nailing down those moments before my mind fails to remember them. And this mind certainly needs all the help it can get!

      As to the cuteness, thanks. I tend to agree ;)

      1. Yes, even if you get tired of blogging, you can make what you’ve already written private and always have it to look back on. Like a virtual scrapbook. :)

  10. Twindaddy · · Reply

    Being a parent is a hell of a ride. Watching them grow and learn is irreplaceable.

    1. Luckily most if not all the things they destroy ARE replaceable.

      1. Twindaddy · · Reply

        Luckily, yes.

  11. They will always amaze you and make you tear up – you are as special to them as they are to you – so don’t forget that for a moment.

    1. I appreciate the reminder. It’s easy to forget when she’s trying to pull my hair out ;)

  12. unfetteredbs · · Reply

    It’s a crazy, wonderful ride that never stops evolving…

    1. And for that I am so grateful! At least you can say there”s never a dull moment.

  13. Heck, my insane Etta can weasel out of a 5 point harness. Straps were made to be twarted, according to toddlers. Luckily they keep getting awesomer, or I’d be sadder about this growing up thing. Voluntary hugs and kisses make toddlers oh so much better than infants, I think.

    1. Have either of your girls said “I love you” to you yet? C hasn’t yet but I fully expect to cry for the rest of the day when she does.

      1. No I love yous yet. Whenever they hug or kiss me, though, I say, “I love you too!”

  14. At least you have a girl….they stay with you forever. Boys don’t hang around like girls do. I think I’m better at staying close to my men now than most do. I tend to go the extra mile. The straps in the swing made me remember our #2 son Corey. He liked to hold his hands outward as he was swinging. As he got more proficient at this, he occasionally would grab the support beam and just hold onto it, stopping the swing. He’d smile at us at this accomplishment. Once though he was swinging fast, he grab ahold and it pulled him out of the swing and onto the floor. I smiled at that. :)

    1. Haha! It is so cute when they discover that they can do things with their hands and they realize their little tricks ;)

  15. I used to hop in the shower with my mom when I was little. I always thought of it as our private time, because my dad was a boy and couldn’t come in! It was nice hanging out in the rain locker, and it’s absolutely adorable that C followed you in. :)

    1. It was really hilarious when she pulled the curtain back and jumped in before I had a chance to tell her no. That kid loves water more than anything in the entire world, and I’m actually kind of surprised she didn’t figure out how to escape her playpen and jump in the shower with me earlier!

  16. This makes me sad and yet kind of excited for when I have a kid.. I don’t have kids yet but this post makes me realize how fast my kids will grow wether I want them to or not.

    1. Oh man, they grow almost in spite of their parents. It’s the first way they truly stick it to us ;D Thanks for reading and commenting, Stina!

  17. Oh, SO fast! Beautiful!

  18. Beautiful, Emily! Wee Cee is a clever girl.

    1. She really is. Sometimes I don’t know how I feel about that ;)

  19. Time goes quickly and as they change, so do we. Remind yourself not only of the changes in Cee as time goes on, but also how much you have changed and grown and how much more of YOU is present. I barely remember what my kids did last week, never mind what they were like when they were 5 years or 3 years or 18 months. (Photos and my hubby’s memory are good for that). But I like that even as they do get older, they are deep-down still the same kiddos as they were when they were wee tender babes.

  20. Such a sweet essay about your very sweet Cee, Emily, even a grizzled non-breeder can appreciate it.

  21. When my daughter was a baby, I’d dance with her every day, holding her in my arms and swirling around the living room like a crazy person (or a young mother, probably an equivalent term). It was always the same album, and to this day I can’t help but smile when I hear those songs. These days Darling Daughter, at 40+ years, doesn’t remember it at all, and I wish I’d kept it up until she was at least 18. Make the good memories now, and make them last. Neat post, btw.

  22. My son is 37 and I finally gave him his album of baby pictures. I didn’t really want to give it up but I’ve had it for years and his sister had hers. He loved it as he loves family pictures and books. He gifted me a memory stick for my computer with scads of pictures of his wife, daughter and new home so that was some compensation. A parent finds that not only is it hard to let go of the baby. It’s also hard later on to let go of some of the baby pictures, even to the grown person who was that baby.

  23. Filling up our home with her tinyness. Awwwww!!!!
    I remember my daughter Annie loved her swing and I could hear Mary Had a Little Lamb all the time even when it wasn’t playing.
    You are the second blog today that I have noticed I’m not following but I know I have followed you and it was a long time ago. I don’t know if something happened in the fall over my honeymoon. I just thought all my bloggers weren’t blogging????

  24. What a fantastic post, Emily!!!

  25. As I drove my (21 year old) boy to the airport today, I kept thinking how fast it all goes and how sweet he looked today… just as he did at 2. ;-)

  26. Very cute picture :)

  27. Crap. I’m tearing up just reading this. All too often I’m having too tell myself to stop whatever I’m hurrying off to do just to sit and watch my baby girl sleep. She turned 5 months yesterday and I have no idea where the time went.

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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