Baby, until there was you, nothing else mattered. Sometimes, when interacting with other parents, this is the feeling I get -- like that's how they think of their offspring. Life was kind of pointless for awhile, but now with the baby around, oh, it's just so fulfilling, so full of meaning.
Recently, I was talking with some girl friends who laughed about other parents becoming a little too into their kids -- taking hundreds of photos of them, writing about them in obsessive detail on blogs, changing their own diet habits to suit their kids' tastes... buying them complete sand castle molds because I don't know, it's too hard to build a sandcastle yourself? (Besides, you probably shouldn't let your kid play in the sand anyway because of sand fleas.)
Speaking of sand, a few weeks ago, while on vacation, I encountered a mother of a 13-month-old who could talk about nothing else but her daughter. The Über Mom sat in the kiddie pool with her Miracle (thankfully, that wasn't the kid's name) and blathered on about the little girl's birth, her habits, her vaccinations, her diet, her pee-pee, poo-poo, her... eventually I tuned out and excused myself, running to my son to pretend to fuss about the tower of cars he was building. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Über Mom latch on to another victim to talk with the manner that was more like the fervor of the newly converted than an account of mother's love.
In my case, it was partly mother's love that inspired me to write this blog and document some of the little shockers that come with becoming a parent. I'm guilty of posting my son's picture on facebook, of sending videos of my kid dancing to unsuspecting and innocent victims (friends), of relating funny poo stories only to realize that I was the only one thinking it was cute and the people faking laughter were also flinching slightly as I gaily proposed having a look at some hilarious pictures I took of the incident. I think perhaps I was starting to becoming that kind of person, you know the person everyone asks "How is your kid?" before they ask about the book project you're working on. But before I started being that person, I had a head full of dreams and only one of them involved being a mom.
I won't dispute that becoming a parent gives you this complicated type of joy that's incomparable to anything that you've ever experienced before. It's wonderful and very fulfilling. It can also be puzzling when things don't go as expected (postpartum depression, anyone?). Ideally, you fall in love with your child, but unlike romantic love this one rarely -- or never? -- burns out. I would argue that like with falling in love you can take your affair a little too far, however. Indeed, with your child you can become an obsessive stalker, an affection-starved whiner, a needy ball of insecurity, an enabler... A sMotherer (although you could be a sFatherer, too but that doesn't have that clever ring to it so let's -- hey, a bird!).
Look, I have been known to get briefly devastated by my son's refusal to hug me. I have had my heart broken when he's chosen Daddy over me on certain days. This morning, my husband got his heart stomped on brutally when the kid completely ignored him and insisted on being exclusively dressed, picked up and fed by his one and only Mommy. And both my husband and I have been caught in long, blissful moments pausing mid-sentence during our breakfast paper reading to just stare at our brown-eyed child of rose cheeks and pouty mouth, whom we sometimes call putto (a cherub) because he looks so much like one.
So yes, I, too, am in love with my child. But I try to stay sane about it. Like past loves, there are moments when I have to stop myself from kissing the object of my affection (my son) so much and so often I'd probably give him a rash. I have to cut out any sort of idea about hanging off a tree next to his daycare to "observe" him or about installing a tracking device to his shoes. I had to store my camera in a drawer so that it's not on hand every single time he does some cute thing -- I mean, how many pictures of him wearing a funny hat do I need? (The answer: at least 500 by now.) Most importantly, like in the past, I let the object of my devotion build his own castles and I let myself build the dreams I had before he came along.
Originally published here.