I spend 24 hours a day with Madelynn. Seven days a week. When something comes up that I get to have a little baby free time, I get really excited. I picture myself as a young girl, looking great in a bikini, laughing and smiling, without a 2 month old dangling from my chest. Today was one of those days. We went to an amusement park, Mady was pushed around in her stroller by her Grammy and Pappy. I was a young girl in a bikini. Was I that young girl I pictured? Hell no. I stood by the slides, aching milk-filled ta-tas too big for my top, tired with bags under my eyes, a huge dark line going down my tummy, a tummy that always looks flat when I see it in my head but definitely isn't when I look down in real life. And am I smiling and laughing? Another hell no. I'm wondering if my baby is hungry, if Mom put a hat on her, if Daddy is tossing her in the air while her head bobs front to back (he wouldn't do this, but I can picture it). And there are babies everywhere. Everywhere! And they're all with their mothers which makes me feel even less stellar. So what do I do? I go down each water-slide once, thinking about all the smiles I'm missing in the too long lines, change out of my too small suit, thinking about the nasty burn Mady will get if she doesn't have a damn hat on, and start to hunt down my baby, thinking about all the random yucky people that are probably trying to get my parents to let them hold her. Whew, I think a lot. But holy hell for every three people there's a stroller. And for every 2 strollers there's one that looks exactly like mine. Where's my baby? How many laps around this stupid park have I made? (Just one, but it felt like a million.) Where's my baby?? Found her. Mady had a hat on and was sleeping in my Daddy's arm, her head still screwed onto her neck. I'm ready to leave. Thankfully so was everyone else. Why was I so worried?
I'm starting to think that there will never come a day when I'm just "baby-free". Sure she may not be physically in my arms but she'll be constantly on my mind. Even for the few moments when I was able to abandon any worry, I was thinking about how much Mady was going to enjoy this exact water slide when she's old enough to go down it, her little arms wrapped around my neck like a vice. And I did smile. I smiled at her future, not as a baby anymore but as my little girl, riding the carousal with her Daddy's arm protectively around her waist. And there's me with my camera, taking pictures while trying to frantically wave back as she yells "Hi, Mommy!" every time her painted horse runs past where I'm standing. It makes me smile and want to cry all at the same time. It makes me appreciate my mother in a way that I never have. It breaks my heart.
Like the Beatles said, "Eight days a week, I love you"*. And I do.
I'm a little sappy today. If the movie Beaches were on right now, I'd be inconsolable. Bette Midler's best.
*Actually it's more like "Eight days a week, I luh-uh-uh-uh-ove you", but I'm not a Beatle.
Question of the day: Is there a baby anywhere in the world that actually enjoys wearing a hat? I would need to see proof.