The ups and downs of baby obsession

My husband and I are just starting our day. I’m reading the paper.

“Tehhhhd,” I scream. “There’s going to be a royal baby.”

“And I just spilled my coffee all over the counter,” he says, jumping back.

I had no idea he’d be so enthusiastic.

“She’s having morning sickness. Been there, British girlfriend,” I yell eastwardly.

Although my hearing isn’t quite what it used to be, I think Ted mutters something like, “It’s just a baby.”

Excuse me?

Like it says in the movie “w

hat About Bob?”, I used to think there were two kinds of people in this world: those who like Neil Diamond, and those who don’t. But now, I think it’s about people who go crazy over babies and those who are yeah (yawn)-please-pass-the-doughnuts.

Like my mother, I love all things related to birth, babies and kids. As one of my daughters so sweetly put it, “Mom, you’re an obsessed maniac.”

I admit I get carried away. My eyeballs automatically follow any passing pregnant person or baby stroller. The other day, I saw a woman with a tiny bundle all snuggled to the front of her. I couldn’t tell if it was a new baby, a puppy or her knitting bag. That bump was adorable anyway, and it made me think of my own pregnancies. There is nothing cooler than something moving within you, or watching a body part move across your belly, imagining what it might be – an elbow, a heel, possibly a Barbie convertible.

See, I’m the oddball who longs for pregnancy scares. Who stops to admire every newborn I see, just long enough to get a glimpse, but not so long that someone calls security (timing is everything). Since the day I could say “baby doll,” I’ve hoped for the mythical doorbell signaling a baby in a basket.

Babies are little miracles. They smell good because they don’t smoke or eat beef jerky. Their skin is soft, even without Oil of Olay. They eat, poop, pee, cry and bat their little fists around whenever they want. I yearn for that level of freedom. Babies can’t discuss politics, so there’s never a reason to de-friend them. And they accept people unconditionally, at least until middle school.

Babies are born with the peace and wisdom of the universe, before their little minds are ruined with Sponge Bob and his Square Pants.

I try to hang out with babies as often as possible. I recently saw a friend whose baby, I could tell, was a great thinker.

“She’s processing everything. So thoughtful. Like Descartes,” I said, “only much, much prettier.”

Her lovely mommy gently wiped her baby’s nose.

“You think, therefore you are,” I whispered to her before I bent down to pick up her binky.

Of course, there’s more. As self-appointed Mother of the Universe, a position I inherited directly from my wonderfully over-protective mom, I am constantly on alert regarding child safety. I recently went to a mall store on the second floor.

There is an elevator, but most use the escalator, aka the Death Slide. So, still giving in to peer pressure at my age – mentally, 12 – I step onto the escalator.

With the aid of prayers, chanting and stares from nearby daredevils who should know better than to get too close to me on this machine of impending destruction, I reach the upper level to shop, and bring my pulse down to a respectable 180. The teenage store associate, standing guard, nods me toward the sweatshirt section. When I’m ready to leave, I approach That-Which-Has-Metal-Teeth, contemplating the impending ride. The same clerk suggests the elevator. But I’m watching a young dad with his toddler daughter approach, ready to head downward. I push away the internal voice of my daughter, Miss “Mom-MYOB.”

“There’s an elevator just over here,” I say, pointing.

He looks at me.

“Might be easier,” I say, and look down, way down, at a head of blond curls. “Hi, sweetie. Do you like riding elevators?”

Dad looks at me suspiciously.

“You know,” I stammer, “um, safer?”

Now the little girl turns to look at me, then back to her daddy. I can’t be sure, but I think he says something that, frankly, should not be uttered around small children.

In seconds, he playfully lifts her little arm as she finds her footing and they are on their way.

Me? I am terrified. I watch the little girl’s tiny shoes, praying they will make that last big step at the bottom of the Tube of Terror. Which they do. Easily.

The young clerk who’s been watching my efforts to help shakes his head. It’s so good to know someone agrees with me. Someone who knows how precious and precarious life is. Someone who shares my concern for children everywhere. My mom would have commended him.

And I tell him that – as he leads me safely to the elevator.

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