Monday, August 11, 2008

The Invisible World

Before baby I lived a smug life. I hoarded my freedoms and squandered time. I regarded harried parents dragging uncooperative toddlers out of stores with that same feeling you get when the guy in front of you gets pulled over by a cop and you don't. I handed off screaming babies to their parents with a shrug, relief washing over me. When you are not a parent, life is uncomplicated, but you have no way of knowing this. It might be complicated in other ways--say if you have a drug addiction or some variation on the dysfunctional family or a withholding boyfriend...but it's still not kid complicated. You can leave the house at a moment's notice, grabbing only your keys and your wallet. You do not have to lug:

--diaper bag (which contains a whole world of items you don't know you need until baby comes ranging from pacifiers to spare diapers and clothes for inevitable diaper accidents in the middle of supermarkets)
--car seat
--stroller frame into which car seat goes
--baby bjorn in case kid doesn't want to be in stroller
--drape to cover baby's seat from sun
--toy that plays music to dangle from car seat in case baby gets cranky while driving
--oh yeah, and baby :)

In the process, you forget your own sunglasses, keys, purse, directions to where you're going, your shopping list, one shoe and to brush your hair.

Or as the eloquent Rachel Cusk writes in her book about motherhood (thanks Myfanwy) A Life's Work:

"The baby's physical presence in my life is not unlike a traveller's custody of a very large rucksack. On the subway people tut and sigh at our double bulk, the administrative headache of us, and stream away at stations leaving us struggling with straps and overflowing detritus on the platform...Because I am the baby's home there is nowhere I can leave her and soon I begin to look at those who walk around light and free and unencumbered as if they were members of a different species."

While this may sound like me complaining, it's actually me observing. There's a bit of the anthropologist in every new parent. I never used to check out other parents' strollers or wonder where they bought their baby's outfit. I barely noticed babies, to be frank. (You don't have to be obsessed with babies to want a child of your own).

Now, it is as if an invisible world has opened up that was there all along, parallel to my world, but which I couldn't see because I did not have the key. And this world is both more strange and more magnificent than I could have ever imagined.


At 8:47 PM, Blogger L.C.McCabe said...


After you think that you no longer have to bring along a change of clothes, you should probably still continue to bring along some.

Just in case.

I made that mistake once when Ian was about 16 months or so. He was past the spit up stages, and I didn't think it was necessary. We went to the mall and well, I wasn't all that cognizant of making sure that his penis was pointed down when I changed him.

He wet himself and his diaper remained dry. His shirt however was soaked. He peed like a geyser.

I wound up having to buy him new clothes and then change him into them in the bathroom of the store, then pack his wet shirt and such in the diaper bag.

Not one of my favorite Mommy moments, but it was better than the time I decided to check his diaper just as his anal orifice opened and unleashed a truckload of poo on the diaper pad. It reminded me of a Playdough pumper.

Hopefully you won't have either of those experiences, but I think now you are ready to hear about such things.

Have a good night!


At 10:05 AM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Hehe, Linda...every mother I know has shared some variation on the poop explosion in public story :) We've experienced both, fortunately not in public, but unfortunatley, at other people's houses :)

At 2:44 PM, Anonymous Amy said...

Sometimes you need clothes for yourself, too. When my second child was about 3 months old, I visited my office with her. She was sitting on my lap when she had a giant poop explosion that got all over not only her outfit, but also my shirt and pants.

Fortunately my friend Liz had workout clothes in her desk that she loaned me. Otherwise I would have had to send someone to the Gap.

At 4:55 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Boy, you nailed this!

As a new mom, I was totally naive about how hard it was to get out of the house with a baby, and didn't learn until Max was eight days old and we were due at my parents' home for his Bris.

I was so accustomed to looking at my watch and not getting ready to leave until, well, it was TIME to leave, that it didn't occur to me until it was too late that getting a baby out the door is like packing for a week-long trip.

My folks were worried and fuming by the time we arrived ... but at least they didn't get started without us!


At 8:26 AM, Blogger Brad D. Green said...

This is so true. I have a 6 year old and an 10 month old. Each age requires its own set of baggage. Plus I have my own: notebook, books...etc. A wonderful blog here that I stumbled upon. Wish you had an RSS feed, though.

Elevate the Ordinary

At 8:01 PM, Anonymous Maurie said...


Ellen leaves for college on Thursday and Nathan is already left for his junior year. I have written pages, pages, pages about the process of letting them take flight to their new lives. Even though my kids were toddlers over 18 years ago, it is wierd how much of the last few weeks/months has been me remembering and reflecting on the times when they were so small. Honestly, the years when they were little were really tough! Lots of writing prompts there...

At 9:55 PM, Blogger Maryanne Stahl said...

I was like you--not really noticing baby stuff--except I got handed the key to the parallel universe 2 months shy of my twenty-first birthday, and boy did my life change--forever and ever.

everything--everything--changes, in practical and metaphysical ways.

amazing, life.

At 8:39 PM, Blogger tanyaa said...

The world around us is filled with forms of life that are too small to be seen by the naked eye. This is the world of micro-organisms, or microbes, in short.Bacteria, viruses and fungi (the plural of fungus!) are all different types of microbes. They live everywhere around us, on us and even in us. Luckily most of them are harmless. Some microbes are useful and some are dangerous.
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