Head-Banging, Baby J, and Gratitude

Posted: May 31st, 2006 | Author: | Filed under: Friends and Strangers, Husbandry, Miss Kate | No Comments »

When Mark got home from work tonight and was playing with Young Kate she leaned forward, biffed her cheek against the coffee table, and started bawling. After comforting her he started to berate himself (aloud) for being a negligent parent. Yeah, yeah, I thought, and casually interrupted him to say she’d managed to somehow bang her head about six other times today, so he shouldn’t beat himself up over it.

I realize that if I only had an hour a day with her, as Mark sadly does on weekdays, I’d probably be right there where Mark was, tossing on a hair shirt and cursing that I’d ruined a few precious minutes of quality Kate time. But one of the glorious things about being home with Kate is that I have a front-row seat to all the dramatic, tedious, and mundane events of her life. I have behind-the-scenes access to the super-stinky diapers, thrilled-to-see-you post-nap smiles, car-seat babble, food fights, whining, puking, drooling, farting, and everything in between. So to me, a small contusion to the head–even one that’s due to not diligently guarding her noggin–doesn’t really rate. I need to be sure to remind myself regularly how fortunate I am for that.

Earlier today, Kate and I had some fun in the sun with Lisa and beautiful bedroom-eyed baby Jackson. Lisa is one of my favorite humans and friends. She was one of the brave gals willing to wear a flamingo pink dress at my wedding, to grapple with fastening the 2,137-odd buttons on my gown, and to have known throughout our friendship when I’ve needed a sympathetic ear versus a slap upside the head. And yet today, here we were with our 8- and 9-month-old babies who have probably been in the same room a total of four measly times.

Part of the reason is general life busy-ness. Part is geography. When she and Alex left SF they settled to the south of the city, and despite their fervent lobbying, when Mark and I left years later we went east. But the most significant reason why we haven’t spent more mom-’n'-babe time together is that Lisa took the swan dive back into the work world after having Jack.

Unlike me, Lisa found one of those Holy-Grail-like “Jobs You Like to Go To.” Granted, it came after years of crying in the parking lots of jobs she hated. So, when young Jack came on the scene, there was a reason that exceeded sheer finances that bolstered her return to work. As much as she wanted more time at home, Lisa feared that if she didn’t reinstate herself at her job, she’d never find a plumb workplace like it again. I hope for once that her usually stellar intuition was off there.

How does the story end? Well, after 5 months of giving the mother-and-commuting-professional balance an impressive fair shake, Lisa traded in the office job to report to lil’ Jack. She told me today how she realized that at times she was just going through the motions with the baby since she had so many things to do to get through each day. She didn’t have enough time to just hang out and enjoy him. You know, watch him hit his head a couple dozen times in the course of the day and think nothing of it.

Hooray! I’m teary-eyed with the thought that Lisa and Jackson will be able to enjoy life as best chums and partners in crime. It’s such a treat for me, that I can’t help but wish that all my mama friends have as much fun in this job as I do.

Granted, the weeks when you’re housebound from rain, and the days when the half-pint wails incessently for no good reason, can make the thought of a 3-hour conference call or developing a spreadsheet with pivot tables seem like a party. But those times are few and far between. And even with them in the mix, I need to remember to remind myself (a meta-memory task) how lucky lucky lucky I am to have all this time with my little love-bug. And remember to thank Mark for bringing home the bacon (and thereby marginalizing his own Kate-time), so I can be with her.

I’m also happy to report that Lisa, Jackson, Kate and I now have a regular date. We’ll be seeing each other every other Monday (alternating visits between Burlingame and Oakland). And hopefully those dates will breed more gatherings—maybe even an occaisional grown-ups-only night on the town.

Yippy doodle. Life is good.

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