Something in our conversation startled me. I leaned back in my desk chair reflectively, like an old lady in a rocking chair thinking back on her life.
“Of course. Mum-Mums,” I thought to myself. “Those awful, sticky, lighter-than-air baby cookies. They made such a mess. How could I have forgotten that?”
It had been so long since I thought of the Mum-Mums and Gerber puffs that used to fill the pockets of my diaper bag. There were little baby cheesies, too, and they tasted OK. Except the tomato flavour — those were gross.
I had been interviewing Courtney Ceponis from Port City Strollers for an article about her fitness classes, and listening to her talk about life with her 10-month-old son made me feel nostalgic … and old.
Was it really five years ago that I was freezing pureed carrots in ice cube trays? (Remember the weird names I used to delight in giving my concoctions???) That I was snapping up sleepers and tickling roly-poly thighs and patting little diapered newborn bums to hear that satisfying Pampers crinkle?
Our conversation about babies was like a trippy blast through the past, where I remembered everything while also realizing how long it had been. It was like dreaming of a place you haven’t seen in years, and wondering if you’d just imagined it …
I remember being in the Baby Bubble, where it was second nature to heft a baby onto my hip and carry them around while I cleared the table or transferred wet laundry to the dryer. I could eyeball a onesie and immediately know if it was a 3-6 month size or a 6-12 month size. I automatically swayed back and forth, even when I was alone in line at the grocery store.
I remember the years I couldn’t carry a small purse. I was always lugging around too much stuff — diapers, wipes, teethers, toys, and the Very Special Last Resort Toy for when I was really desperate. Sometimes I felt like a pack mule, but then I’d save a friend’s morning by having an extra diaper to hand them when they ran out.
Going was a crapshoot, I remember. The nervousness of walking into a restaurant while toting the infant car seat that weighed approximately 80 lbs. The baby might sleep the whole time or they might start wailing when the meal arrives. (It was always, always the latter.) I remember forgetting to order a glass of water, so when the soother falls on the floor I’d swish it in my 7-Up and hope for the best.
I reach up and touch my hair, and I can barely remember the months it was falling out. The months of that ugly fuzzy regrowth. The days I would be wearing the crumpled “in case of emergencies” T-shirt I stuffed in the diaper bag for when I got covered in baby barf or poop … or both.
When I get together with friends now, we don’t talk about how many times our baby fed, or how long of a stretch we managed to sleep. But I remember when that was ALL we could talk about. I remember being genuinely surprised when someone suggested getting together in the early afternoon, because a 1 p.m. nap is just … expected. It felt like the world stopped at 1 p.m., and now it passes without me even noticing.
Then one day you realize everyone in your family eats off the same (non-plastic) plates and drinks from the same (non-sippy) glasses, and you no longer own the fistful of plastic spoons that used to be washed daily. It’s not exciting when everybody sleeps through the night — it’s just annoying on the odd night when someone doesn’t.
You carry a small purse, and the only snack inside is a granola bar you’re probably going to eat yourself. You don’t worry about eating in restaurants, everybody buckles their own seat belt, no one’s going to swallow a nickel (hopefully), and you can make plans that start at 1 p.m.
As much as I love the “big kid” stage, where our son and daughter are funny, independent, and full of personality, there was so much sweetness being in the Baby Bubble. The squishy little tummies, the coos, the tiny grins and giggles.