The Long Pause of the Infant Stage

A few weeks ago my neighbor friend and first time mom of a three week old asked if I could babysit, so that she and her husband could go knock a few back for her birthday celebration.   I was tickled and honored, since I’d be their very first non-family babysitter.  Plus, who doesn’t want to babysit for an infant?  It’s like being handed a bowl of brownies and ice cream. Yes, please! Let me snuggle your newborn baby.
And so I did.  I came over, let my friend go on and on about her baby’s very specific, unique needs and personality and the exact way she likes to be burped (we’re all so detailed with baby #1) and then I settled in with that sleeping, 8 lb. hot potato in my arms to watch some old Office reruns.
And that’s all I did for three hours.  I sat… holding, feeding a bottle or burping a baby for three hours straight.  I watched enough episodes of The Office that Netflix felt the need to check for life with its “Are you still watching?” notice.
And it dawned on me that I am personally out of that PAUSE stage.  What I mean is, having a newborn is like pressing the pause button on outside productivity for a very long time.
As I sat there holding my friend’s sweet newborn baby, I realized a) how necessary it is that a new mama be afforded that long pause and b) that I’m not yearning for that PAUSE stage anymore.
Moms of infants need to be given so much time off from other responsibilities. When my first child was born I didn’t want to do anything but stare at him. And watch long hours of TV. While I also stared at him.  And then maybe take a nap, and if I was really feeling ambitious, take a walk with him.  The work world buzzed around me all day for months like that.  People writing dissertations, people starting a business, people running for public office.  But I didn’t have the bandwidth to care, nor should a new mom even be asked to care.  That long pause is exactly how her body recovers from birth, how she mysteriously reorients the priorities of her heart, and how she hosts and welcomes that dazzling, fragile life.
But what I also realized that evening of babysitting was that I don’t want to press pause anymore. I’ve wondered from time to time, do I want another baby?  Now I know the answer is a satisfied no. Not a reluctant no. Now is my season to get up off the couch and add my voice to the conversation.  The clock is ticking, but the flexing is appropriate because now I’m ready.   I’ve got four writing projects going at once, like plates I’m spinning in the air. I’ve got dreams I’m realizing, even now.  I have two children running up ahead calling, “Chase us, Mommy!”  And I gladly do.

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