What is it that makes babies so appealing? And not just your own baby being appealing to you; I mean that strangers going gaga in public over someone else’s baby reaction that babies so easily elicit. Is it the cherubic faces, little fingers that grab onto yours without hesitation or judgment, coos that sound extraterrestrial, chubby cheeks and limbs made for kissing? Or is it more than the physical? Perhaps they force the recognition, consciously or not, of the importance of life, and family, and carrying on, and symbolize hope and potential. I’m not sure. In fact, at the risk of turning this into a confessional, I’ll admit I didn’t understand the whole baby “thing” until about 4 years ago.
Some people seem born to procreate; it’s as if they have an innate understanding of how personally transforming parenthood and children can be. As my family is often quick to remind me, I definitely was not born into that category. Picture the person that rolls her eyes every time she hears a baby cry and is quick to apportion blame on the parents (it’s possible, pre-motherhood, that on more than one occasion I muttered “what’s wrong with those parents?” upon being subjected to a noisy baby in a restaurant, airplane, mall, anywhere). Yep, for a very long time, that was me. And then it all changed, and after years of feeling quite sure that I did not envision myself as a mother, I decided I wanted to have a child. And then another. And I feel lucky and grateful to have them. No regrets.
And I even get excited about other people’s babies now, too. No, I’m not the crazy lady who is pinching stranger babies’ cheeks in line at the deli, but I do get a thrill from babies. I think maybe it’s that they serve as a reminder of how much I love my own children and how much joy they bring me (that is, when the toddler is not testing me with new, highly creative, insanity-inducing shenanigans).
It’s wonderful to see that thrill and baby-joy in others, too. This weekend I met my cousin’s four-month-old son for the first time, as he made a whirlwind tour from North Carolina up to New England for introductions to family and friends that had so far known him only in pictures. But what Facebook and emails can’t convey is the powerful conversion from cousin to mother, from aunt to grandmother. It was fantastic to gather with family and meet the newest addition, and so amazing to see how easily and completely my cousin, her husband and my aunt wore their new roles. Hey little guy, you are changing lives already!
Cotton print pants (fabric: Laurie Wisbrun for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, Urban Circus Elephants). Pattern pieces drawn by tracing a pair of my daughter’s pants.
Freezer paper stenciled onesie.