I wrote this several years ago, when Cole was a baby. Since he's turning four soon, I figure I should post it!
I was slotted to work the nursery at church again today. (How I end up there once a month is beyond me!) My co-worker was a woman I know through church, a mom with three kids. Her youngest is six months old, just a few months younger than Cole.
I asked after her baby, who was at home. She joked that she has banned har baby from church since the baby projectile vomits alot- to the point that she soaks herself and her mom! The baby is a happy spitter, growing and gaining well, but "she won't take a pacifier or bottle! Have you ever heard of a baby who won't take a binky?"
Yes, I said, my kids. My older two never took a bottle and my younger two only took one because it was a matter of life or death.
Really? she said. I kinda wish she would take one. I can only be away from her for one and a half or two hours and there's things I would like to do, like help at the soup kitchen.
I understand, I replied. And it can be very hard when you need a break from the baby and feel like you can't get it. You need time to recharge in order to be there fully for your kids.
Did it bother you?
Yes.Yes it did.
When Joseph was born, I was told that babies NEED to take a bottle. I should MAKE my baby take a bottle so people could baby sit and I could have date nights with my husband.
Now, as a young mother, I didn't know what the future would hold. Sure, I wanted a date night with my husband. I stressed and fussed and tried to get Joseph to take a bottle so I could let others baby sit and "have adult time" by teaching swim lessons at a local gym. Meanwhile, my mother and friends pointed out that I was a stay at home mom who rarely left her baby. I could step out for an hour or two, they reminded me, and I probably wouldn't want to be away from my baby for hours on end.
Of course I didn't want to be away from him for hours on end! But... shouldn't I? I mean, yeah I wanted a date night with my husband or coffee with friends but I didn't want to be gone all day. I missed my Jo-jo. What was wrong with me? Was I too attached?
Then I became pregnant with Camille and suddenly Joseph was weaned, attached to Daddy and I had a new baby to care for. And again, people said to me, "She NEEDS to take a bottle."
She never did.
Somewhere between Camille and Georgie, it hit me.
My children can except to live 80-plus years.
For those 80 years, we will likely support them in some way or form for 24 years (18 years at home plus a few at college).
Of those 24 years we will be feeding babies, they will likely nurse for two, or less, years.
Of those 2 years, for six months, they will be dependent on me and only me for food.
For their entire lives, there is only six months where Mommy and only Mommy can feed them. After six months old, they will take some solid food, water from a cup and can be left while we enjoy dinner out, maybe grab a movie or I have coffee with a friend. For six months out of 80 years, they need me.
I can give them six months.
It's six months, I said to my friend. When we talk about being pro-life Catholic and respecting all the stages of life, I think that means respecting the ages and stages of kids. Right now, I have a young baby who needs his mother. That's appropriate for his age. When I want or need to do something, I bring him with me. If he can't go with me, I figure out another responsible adult to leave him with or I don't go. I love working the soup kitchen but right now, because of the stage of life my kids are in, I can't go. In a few years, it will be my turn.
"Respect life" is why I bring Cole with me to teach CCD- or did, until this week when he suddenly decided to crawl, cruise and be the center of attention. I think society tends to view children as a problem, a pain, people that you'd want to run away from. While I totally agree that a break from very demanding and draining little people can (and should!) be in order, I think sometimes society treats kids as a convience item. They are there when we want them to be there, we make them fit into our lives as we see fit and that's that. Of course, give and take is part of any relationship, even parent/child, but we need to remember babies are young, immature and incapable of taking care of themselves. They really do need us and we need to respect that.
But, as someone once said, children are a wonderful INconvenience. It's joyful, most days, to be inconvenienced by diapers, feedings and playtime. It's part of the job. Every stage of childhood has different joys and challenges and parents need to respect those- especially, I think, the baby stage where those little people can't speak for themselves. They need you for everything- but it is for such a short time.
It's said again and again but children really do grow up soooo fast. Issues that seem so big and never ending, like a baby not taking a bottle, are gone in a blink of the eye. Joseph is turning seven in a few months and it seems like just yesterday he was a tiny baby who only needed his mama. And now, of course, I am chopped liver! ;) With Cole, even though he took a bottle, I made sure to cuddle and simply drink in his warmth, because I knew it would be over too soon- and it was. But, then, can babyhood ever last long enough?
My friend's baby wants her milk from her mama, straight from the tap. That's something simple need and can- and should!- be respected. Cole needs his milk too, but he's old enough to go longer between feedings..
(*And in case anyone is wondering, no, having babies who took bottles didn't I got anymore time alone or that I did less of the feedings. I still did the same amount of feedings, we had the same amount of dinners out alone and I washed more bottles. Eh. Cole and Georgie HAD to take bottles but if we were to have a normal, term, non-tounge ties baby, I wouldn't push the bottles at all.)