In the Company of Baby
by Becky Kopitzke
“I’m lonesome for grown-ups,” I whine; then static buzzes in my ear as my husband’s cell phone cuts off. I feel like we’re in a commercial, where my sweet hubby is on the other end spouting words of great sympathy. I dial again.
“Chad, did you hear what I said?”
“I heard you, honey. You’re lonesome. For grown-ups.”
“Kind of silly, huh?” Since becoming a stay-at-home mom four months ago, silly has become a staple behavior in my routine. Silly songs, silly faces, silly hormones.
“Why don’t you take Clara to the mall? At least that would get you out of the house,” Chad suggests. Maybe the clerk at Pottery Barn wouldn’t mind me chatting her up for a few hours. I think of the production that must take place before leaving home with a baby: packing the diaper bag, loading the stroller in the trunk, changing Clara at the last possible minute into something that (a) hasn’t been spit up on yet and (b) contains enough pink to prevent admiring onlookers from confusing her for a boy.
“Maybe I’ll just call a friend or something.”
“Good idea.” (Is that a twinge of relief I hear?) “I have to go to a meeting. I’ll see you when I get home at 5, ok?” I look at the clock. It’s 8:32 AM.
When I made the decision to jump my career track in favor of full-time motherhood, I knew I wasn’t necessarily choosing the easier path. Trading the board room for the play room and deadlines for diapers can challenge even the most resilient woman’s creative capacity. But I was ready. After ten years in the corporate world, I was eager to dive head-first into the blessing of being mom.
It’s just that — let’s face it — I like to talk. And at four months old, my daily companion only chats in a language I don't understand. “Ah-goo, brrrr phlechhhh” translates to some brilliant narrative in baby speak, I’m sure, but to a monolingual mom, it’s just cute nonsense. On occasion, my desire for adult conversation hits a threshold and I go a little stir crazy.
For the next couple hours, I amuse myself with the usual morning baby routine: feed, burp, giggle, pray that Clara’s stint in the bouncy seat lasts long enough for a shower and maybe even a chance to wash the bottles. Bonus if I can grab a bowl of cereal.
As soon as a respectable hour approaches, I call my friend Hilary. With a 2-year-old in tow, she’s a pro at this stay-at-home mom stuff and one of my greatest sounding boards. It rings five times before I remember she’s at a diaper study. Strike one.
On to tummy time and a storybook, followed by a rousing rendition of “This Little Piggy.” Clara’s eyelids begin to droop. Gently, I lay her down in the crib. I tiptoe out of the nursery and dial my cousin Shaina, a new mom in the delirious early weeks of postpartum bliss. Nobody answers — she must be napping, too. For her sake, I hope she is. Strike two. I decide to follow the crowd and flop down for a nap myself.
Later that morning, Clara settles in for another round of milk. With the boppy in my lap and the phone in my hand, I dial my college roommate Alisa, mom of two and somebody who remembers who I was before the burp rag accessory replaced silver hoop earrings. Voice mail picks up within seconds, and I figure another lonely mom beat me to the punch. Strike three.
I glance down at Clara. She’s studying my face with her shining, inquisitive eyes. I stare back and get lost in the giddy thrill of holding this beautiful child — my child. A tiny smile spreads across her milk-frosted mouth. In that moment, we understand each other, Clara and me. And neither of us has to say a word.
On the sofa beside me, the phone rings. It’s Catherine, a good friend and pregnancy companion; our daughters were born just weeks apart. “Hey,” she says. “Ever have one of those days when it feels like you haven’t spoken to another adult in ages?”
Have I ever had one of those days? I chuckle. “I’m so glad you called,” I reply. “Talk to me.”