Aspen Princess: The rules of parenting, princess style
The Aspen Princess
Well, the babe just started day care today, and to be honest, it was pretty anticlimactic. (Oh, wait. I guess you’re supposed to call it “child care,” not day care, because “days don’t need care, children do,” or whatever.)
I don’t know what I was expecting. I guess I thought I’d get all emotional the way mothers do, choking back tears. I thought maybe he’d get all wide-eyed and scared, maybe clutch my leg and bury his face in it the way kids do when they don’t want to be separated from mommy. It should be a really big deal for both of us, right?
It turns out the only thing I have to be emotional about is that my kid pretty much forgot I existed within the first two minutes of our arrival because he was too busy checking out all the toys.
The teachers recommend you stick around for a bit, especially on their first day, to give them time to adjust. These are babies we’re talking about here, little creatures that can’t do much of anything on their own. As much as the babe wishes he could walk, he can’t. And even though he does sort of feed himself, like he can hold bottles and sippy cups on his own and can eat from those little food-pouch things, he does sort of need me. I mean, he can’t exactly change his own diaper. That would be ridiculous.
So I’m sitting there checking out my split ends as the babe is totally ignoring me and has already forgotten I exist. He’s crawling all over the teacher’s laps and giggling and then trying to hug all the babies because he just recently started doing that, hugging everyone. He really goes for it, throwing his arms around you and putting his head on your shoulder and giving you a little squeeze.
I guess you could say he’s kind of independent for an 11-month-old, or at least super happy and adaptable. Even though I’d like to take some credit for all of this, I really can’t. I only nursed him for about 10 minutes, so according to the wisdom of the boob brigade, one of his ears should have fallen off by now on account of being on formula, which is almost as bad as feeding him lighter fluid if you think about it. I also never did the co-sleeping thing; I just kind of threw him in his crib when he was a month old and, like I said, he seemed to like it in there.
That’s what’s great about having a babe later in life: I don’t care about what everyone else is doing. I do what feels right, what’s consistent with my values and the way I was raised. My parenting philosophy is pretty simple: If I’m happy, my baby will be happy, too.
Like I was just telling my friend Kate, who also is a first-time mom, being selfish comes really easily to me.
I remember a month and a half after the babe was born, I went to the spa for my birthday.
“You’re going to leave your baby for like, hours and hours?” my friend Amy said when I told her about my plans.
“No, not exactly. I mean, maybe like four hours or so,” I replied, the wheels in my mind spinning. Was it too long to leave a newborn? It hadn’t even occurred to me.
“Wow, you must really feel good about leaving him with your in-laws then,” she said, somewhat bemused.
“I do,” I said, suddenly unsure. Was there any reason I shouldn’t be confident in the choices I’d already made?
“You talk like you don’t even have a baby,” she’s said on numerous other occasions. “It’s like your life is the same as it was before.”
This was almost a year ago now, and not much has changed. I mean, I’m not pounding pints of Aspen Blonde at the Sky at 2 o’clock in the afternoon or rocking size-26 skinny jeans, but I’m still me.
The one thing I’m not, it turns out, is like other moms.
Like, whenever we make plans with other rugrats, the mom will always ask me about nap schedules, and I’m thinking, “Can’t he just sleep when he gets tired?”
Then just the other day when I took the babe to get his flu shot the nurse said, “You can stay as long as you like and nurse him.”
I sort of shook my head, not sure what to say next. Sure, he wailed after the shot but stopped almost immediately as soon as I showed him a shiny object. And I’d already told her twice that I wasn’t breast feeding. Couldn’t she see that he was totally fine and besides that, he’s got like, six teeth? (Oh, relax. It’s beautiful and natural and you’re a rock star goddess for doing it, amen.)
The thing is, the babe self-soothes. He sucks his thumb. It’s really cute because he uses two hands, one in the mouth and the other to hold it in place. Since he was just over a month old he’s loved his crib and goes down easily. He throws thumb into mouth as soon as I lower him in there and he’s stoked. It’s almost as if he wants to be in his own space with Silly Sam the Star Man and Gertie Junior and Glow Worm. He rarely protests, and because I’m too short to really be able to reach in there, I don’t make a big production out of it and usually just say “Love you, good night!” and walk out of the room.
I guess you could say I’m pretty laid back when it comes to my parenting style and as a result, the babe is pretty laid back, too.
Just one question: How soon is too soon to go and pick him up?
The Princess can hardly wait for noon yoga. Email your love to email@example.com.
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The pandemic continues to place enormous stress on families and relationships — especially for those facing financial and medical hardships.