The Joy of a baby's love
The "this" I refer to is an article in the National Post by Christine Rosen, yet another article about how hip parent bloggers are a harbinger of the end of days. (you know, if I were to paraphrase.) The article basically says this parent is wrong and that parent, well that parent is REALLY wrong, and these parents will eventually see the horrible error of their ways, et cetera. And blah, and yawn, and can't you think of anything more original to write about because seriously, as a blogger, I've heard it all before.
But one line, one paragraph got under my skin. It's at the end of a segment of the article where the author thoroughly criticizes Dooce, which seems to be a very fashionable thing to do these days. If you read blogs you've at least heard of Heather Armstrong, she who writes an incredibly successful blog and has written a book about her episode with postpartum depression. In criticizing the book (or more accurately, Armstrong herself), Rosen says:
Throughout the book, Armstrong publishes the "letters" she wrote to her daughter at different stages of her first year of development. The last letter ends with an explication of what she loves so much about her: "I love that you hug me tightly. ... I love it that you cry when I leave and then brighten up like a sun-flooded room when I come back." Although she clearly loves her daughter, what Armstrong really loves is how her daughter makes her feel: wanted and adored.
That last line? Needle. My skin. Under it. Yes. Because I have a four month old daughter, and I love how she makes me feel too. And I don't see why I, or Dooce, or anyone, would ever need to apologize for that.
Right now, my daughter is just showing signs of recognizing my face and her father's face. She gives us both huge, toothless smiles and baby squeals when we say hello to her, and seeing that smile sends a gush of warm happiness through me every single time. What's more, nearly any squeak or discomfort my baby has can be resolved simply by having me pick her up and hold her close, and it doesn't quite cut it if anyone else does it. Knowing that my arms can resolve nearly anything for my daughter is enormous to me; it means that in this parenting gig, this endless game of guesswork and I-don't-know-what-the-hell-I'm-doingness, that there is at least something that I can do right as a mother: comfort my daughter better than anyone else. She whom I love most in the world, loves me the most in return. Tell me that's not nirvana.
I know this is temporary. Within mere months she'll start to gain her independence. Creeping, crawling, walking, her feet taking the first steps on the long road which will culminate in her walking out our door to her own life, never to return. And while I welcome that evolution and I am beyond excited to see who she will become, right now, she is my baby daughter, the sun which I orbit. She is my benevolent god, to whom all my service is lovingly devoted. My only payment? Smiles. Joy. Bonding. The way my daughter makes me feel is beyond any feeling I have ever experienced, transcendant of anything I have ever done. And yet Christine Rosen sees that as something to be held against a mother if she vocalizes it.
If that is to be held against a parent, it almost then becomes a question of why one becomes a parent in the first place. "I became a parent because I love sleepless nights and changing diapers and cracked nipples." "I became a parent because I really wanted to experience vomit first hand." Really? Or do we become parents in order to experience that love, that bonding? Is it simply all about selflessness or is it truly about something more, something instinctual, that we experience as, simply, joy?
In all honesty, I'd be more worried about a parent who didn't feel that way about their child. This parenting gig isn't so easy, and if we didn't have those moments of pure happiness between mother and child that make every hour of the bad parts worth it, the species wouldn't have survived. Our cro-magnon ancestors most likely would have left their babies under the nearest bush.
So, Ms. Rosen, please don't imply that that rush I get when my daughter sees me and bursts into a huge gummy smile is something I need to be ashamed of. It's not. Right now, it's my very own crack cocaine and I cannot get enough of it, and I make no apologies for that.