I love the newborn baby stage, love the infant stages.
I love the cuddling, rocking and especially the nursing.
I still miss nursing a little one in the dark room at night,
the peacefulness, the intimacy,
the feeling of connectedness with mothers throughout the world
who were up at this same hour, holding their nurslings.
Now that my little ones aren't so little any more,
I was excited when a neighbor sent an email out
asking for "baby holders."
Sharon has triplets herself (now in second grade!)
and was hosting a local meeting of Moms of Multiples
so that these moms could get out, meet some new friends, and get a bit of a break.
Promptly at ten AM, I was ringing the doorbell.
I could hardly wait to get my hands on some tiny little babies.
And tiny they were!
As the moms began to arrive, I marveled at their diminutive infants!
Being twins, these babies were itty-bitty, most born at four or five pounds.
One pair was six weeks, one pair nine weeks, one pair 11 weeks.
Within twenty minutes, I had a little one in my arms.
How tiny she was!
Her little eyes blurred and unfocused,
she gazed around the room,
pursed and unpursed her lips
and made all the little grunts and stretches and wiggles of a newborn babe.
Let me tell you something.
Two hours later, I was pretty much sated.
These teeny babies, after a while, felt like twenty pound weights!
By the time I was finished holding babies, my shoulders were in spasms,
my biceps were aching and I was EXHAUSTED.
It really brought into clear focus how different parenting is now
versus "back in the old days" when I had infants.
Taking care of an infant is almost purely physical labor.
Now, that's not to say that there isn't an emotional component, not at all.
But the caretaking involves holding and rocking,
diaper changing and feeding, dressing and soothing.
The constant motion, the upper body strength required to carry those car seats everywhere.
I would say that parenting my children now is almost purely a mental and emotional task.
Obviously, there is still physical labor involved:
the meal prep, the laundry, the keeping up with the house.
But the parenting is much more complex,
the consequences for error can be more severe (for both parents and for kids!)
and the depth and range of emotion much wider.
Parenting older children is more challenging, more interesting
and much more dynamic.
They reveal themselves as they grow
and while it is endlessly surprising,
there are still the glimpses at the little ones that they were years ago:
Kate, the wiry infant who needed stimulation and was happiest when there was something new to take in or do.
Chris, the placid infant with a hidden intensity, always watching and learning surreptitiously,
and Trey, the cuddle bug, who is still calmed with "petting" and physical closeness.
I look forward, with curiosity and mild fear, to the upcoming stages of parenting!