Our new Sundays, a baby story
On weekends they let themselves eat pancakes. Great fluffy pancakes with a bit of ricotta cheese stirred into the mix were drowned in maple syrup and eaten at the dining room table. It was always a joy, a decadence, to fill their bodies up with sugar first thing in the morning. Before the baby they used to lounge around, watch “Meet the Press”, read the Sunday Times, stroll in the park holding hands, go to an afternoon movie, make love, shop, nap, dream.
But now, everything was on a schedule, a never-ending schedule of feeding, burping, rocking, and wrestling the baby to sleep. Life was lived in small increments that didn’t let up just because it was Sunday. The schedule didn’t loosen on the weekend they way their diets did, but stayed the same. Just because it was Sunday didn’t mean the baby would sleep in as they longed for her to do. Or that the baby would suddenly be able to skip the morning nap in order to stroll to the nearby coffee-house to sip lattes and lazily check out the open houses in the paper.
No, Sunday like everyday now was lived in increments.
Increment One: wake-up time (too early but too bad)
Increment Two: playtime for an hour on the floor with toys being turned over and over in her tiny hands or pushed aside suddenly as she squeals, discovering the cat enjoying her Sunday sleep-in in a patch of sunlight, (lucky cat) and quick as a wink the baby hustles over to give the cat a giant unwanted hug, (unlucky cat).
Increment Three: the inevitable wrestling of the cat away from the baby’s longing, her hands still grasping clumps of cat hair, and then wiping of tiny tears of longing of more kitty.
Increment Four: the feeding. Otherwise known as ‘the mess’. The little baby is inserted into her highchair, with or without her permission to be offered multiple choices of fruits, in baby bite sized pieces or oatmeal with fruit puree on the side, or smashed fruit in a small mesh self-feeding bag – all items the baby finds more desirable for smearing in her hair.
Increment Five: clean up of baby hair, baby body, and all areas within firing range of baby’s feeding followed by…
Increment Six: the wrestling to morning nap-time complete with coercion through bottle, music, books, hugs, kisses, tickles, giggles and rocking.
Increment Seven: the awe, the moment of pure bliss, gazing down at sleeping baby, her small chest rising and falling with each rhythmic breath, her pale blue eyelids shining, her perfect round flushed checks and, our love for her making it almost impossible to breath.
Increment Eight: the collapse. Mommy shuffles back to the couch where Daddy is slumped.
“You want pancakes?” he asks.
“Sure” she says. “You wanna make ‘em?”
“I was hoping you would” he says.
“Remember when we used to go out for them? We’d stroll to Clinton Street Bakery, put our names on the list, sit and read the papare and wait over an hour to be seated?”
“Yeah” he says. And the futile topic dies. He lurches forward, shoves his head into his hands and rakes his fingers through his unruly hair. He smiles at her, remembering the way they were and brushes his hand on her leg.
She smiles back and wipes a fresh tear from her eye.
“We could always go back to bed” she suggests, gazing off into space.
“No” he says getting up with a smile, “Let’s make pancakes”.