I got to be The Mommy.
I’m a mommy. I’m Niah’s mommy. Sure. But after five weeks, I got to be The Mommy … with special The Mommy powers.
People like to cuddle and coo over babies, and I get that. We make people wash or sanitize their hands first, (Seriously. I have a small bottle of sanitizer in the diaper bag. Don’t laugh. Have you heard about this flu bug going around? It’s nasty.) but I get that.
But only the extreme baby-lovers don’t mind being cried on. It’s like we have this idea that babies – pure and innocent as they are – are excellent judges of character or individual worth or something, and being cried on makes you a bad or lesser person. You know it’s true.
So we kind of panic – like our secret is out and now – and hurriedly hand Baby back to Mommy. Usually the excuse is, “I think he’s hungry.”
Hardcore baby-lovers, however, will stand and walk and rock and shush and sing and try to sooth the baby themselves. This often works. When it doesn’t, and especially when the baby-lover knows the baby has just eaten, the excuse becomes, “I think he just wants Mom.”
I’ve fielded both, countless times in my five whole weeks as a mommy, but the later really gets me.
Because he doesn’t just want me. He’s hungry. Or he’s wet. Or he wants to be patted on his lower back and rocked side to side, not front to back. It’s not me he wants, it’s just me who knows how to decipher the cries. (Manic laughter means he’s hungry. Lots of leg wiggling means he has a wet diaper.)
I know he recognizes my voice and my scent, and all that, but it’s never been a calming familiarity.
One serious baby-lover brought him back to me recently, inconsolable, and gently explained, “I think he just wants mommy.” I nodded instead of rolling my eyes, and tucked the papers I was holding into the bag on my shoulder. The burp cloth was passed, and then the crying baby, and as we both turned to return to our party the crying suddenly … stopped.
I looked down in a split-second panic. Did he stop breathing? Was he choking? Had he been abducted out of my arms and replaced with a decoy by some intergalactic pickpocket?
Nope. He was just, suddenly, calm. And staring up at me.
“Aww, there you go!” said the baby-lover, matter-of-fact-ly, as she walked off.
Left slightly behind, we just watched each other for a moment – him comfortable, me swooning. I forgave him (again) for every time he cried and yelled despite my best efforts to comfort him, and I felt like he forgave me for every time I waited too long to change a diaper or left him in his bouncy chair to go switch the laundry.
I was The Mommy with The Touch. He didn’t want fed or changed or rocked differently, he just wanted me.
I pulled him up near my face and whispered, “I love you,” in his ear. He promptly fell asleep in my arms.