I am the mother of an eleven-month-old baby girl named Elsie. It’s been quite the almost-year. I’ve learned so many things. Most of them are useless in contexts outside of parenting, but some aren’t. I’ll let you decide which is which.
- Jinxes aren’t real. As a child (read: until I turned 27, last Thursday), I guess I’ve subconsciously operated under the assumption that jinxes are a thing. Not the kind of jinx that happens when you accidentally say the same word as someone else at the same time that they say it, though, I have no idea about that one. I mean the kind that you knock on wood for, or say “oh, you shouldn’t have said that!” about.
When I was in primary school, my mum was often late to pick me up. Usually only a few minutes or so, and it didn’t matter, except that I sometimes accidentally thought about the various catastrophes that might have befallen her. Car crashes were the most common, in my dramatic child-mind. Immediately after thinking about the accident, I’d worry that my thinking about it happening would make it happen. Then I’d comfort myself that, no, that’s silly, of course not. Then I’d think that maybe me being so irreverent toward the power of the jinx would cause the accident, and so on and so forth until she eventually, always, turned up. It was usually just a slight miscalculation in traffic or a particularly interesting art project.
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve gone through these motions with Elsie and her various illnesses (almost always a cold, and always fine), I’d be rich, but I would lose a bunch of money on the exchange to Swedish crowns, since I live in the cold, dark, almost-Arctic. My point is, obviously I can’t control the world using my mind. But why is it such a thing to think I can, with only evidence to the contrary? These intrusive thoughts are much better now that she’s bigger, but still come and go now and then.
- It’s actually totally fine to fall on your face from a standing position. Elsie has a low centre of gravity, which is a contributing factor. She has also had lots of practice. In recent days, her walking has become quite competent indeed, but it seems that anything on the floor, shorter than a chair, is invisible to her, and she makes no effort to avoid it. This usually ends in either Felix or I shooting across the apartment, straining any number of important muscles and tendons, in order to break her fall. This often results in somewhat clumsily poking her off-course with a badly aimed fingernail or elbow at high impact, sometimes just milliseconds after it becomes abundantly clear that she was well on her way to rebalancing. So it goes.
Now and then, though, she falls on her face and is totally fine, other than grumpy and a bit flushed. If I believed in jinxes, I’d say “touch wood” at this point, but I don’t, so I’ll just develop a slight eye-twitch instead.
- Babies do not grow at a constant rate. There have to be a couple of short dot-points here because otherwise nobody will read to the end, so here is one of them. Sometimes they change clothes size three times in a week, sometimes they wear the same clothes for six months.
- Babies are sneaky. They understand much more than we give them credit for.
- Babies are also very un-sneaky. They understand far, far less than we’d like for far, far longer than we’d like.
- Babies are fickle. One day, Elsie thinks it’s hilarious to have her pyjamas waved over her head, but the next day it makes her howl in anger. One day, Elsie likes potato, but the next day, it makes her spit potato-dribble everywhere. One day, Elsie is blowing raspberries at people on the tram, only to never ever blow another raspberry again, starting from 7pm that same day.
Today, Elsie makes an amazing clicking noise with her tongue at the same time as saying “da!” which is physically impossible to do. I’ve tried. Well done, Elsie. Let’s see how long this incredible skill will last.
- Patience is not only a virtue, but also necessary as the parent of a baby. Probably a child of any age. I will provide regular updates. Elsie may do different, interesting things every day, but she also does not do many things, even now, at the ripe old age of eleven months and four days.
Ok, she’s walking, but she doesn’t crawl, she doesn’t talk, she smears her food on everything, doesn’t understand spoons, upends cups of water on her own head seemingly for fun, screams when undergoing wardrobe changes, poos while standing up, hits her head on the dining table with reckless abandon, and also can stand up but mostly refuses to, possibly out of pride.
- When my dad said that he never fully relaxed again after I was born, he must have vastly exaggerated out of kindness to me and a desire for grandchildren. I cannot imagine even remotely relaxing again. I think my heart rate maybe sometimes approaches normal, but probably just out of exhaustion.
- No wonder the world is a crazy and backwards place. It is being run by parents, mostly. By and large, the people in charge of making important decisions impacting the planet and people’s lives, politically and otherwise, are mostly parents. Sometimes, parents of babies.
- Being spoiled takes new forms. A sleep in, when provided by Elsie, is approximately 6.45am. When provided by Felix, it looks more like 8am. Both of these are a Big Deal, in their own special ways.
- The days are long, but the years are short. Except for the days that are short, and the weeks that are super short. Sometimes the days last forever, and sometimes it feels like last Tuesday when it’s actually next Wednesday and the Wednesday after, on the same day. At the start of the baby, it feels like it’s always nighttime because you never sleep, but then the baby starts sleeping through the night (hopefully!!) and then so do you! Then, it’s always daytime because you are so tired that you blink and it’s morning, just like when you were a little kid. It’s come full circle. Or, sort-of quarter circle.