I am not good with babies.
When other people gather round a newborn, cooing, sighing, jostling to be the first to hold them, I’m the one who volunteers to make coffee. When the newborns were mine, I was only slightly more at ease. And as much as I loved my babies, I just didn’t get them. I never really felt like I was good at the baby stage – the swaddling, the burping. The sacrifice.
Infancy was a stage in my children’s lives that I didn’t so much enjoy, as get through.
Other moms got sentimental about the ends of stages in their babies lives, shed tears when they packed up high chairs and cribs. I quietly, but gleefully, watched the parade of baby paraphernalia roll out my door the moment my daughter outgrew it. My daughter is doing amazing things. And she’s doing them far in advance of when her older brother did them. She can, without assistance, put a snowsuit on, go to the bathroom, empty the dishwasher (except for the knives, I promise), butter her own bread, and on and on.
I get so excited with each new achievement. Each step towards independence.
And then I get greedy for more.
Because she’s so capable, the things that she can’t do deplete the shallow store of patience I have left.
I was a farm kid.
Here’s me, bustin’ mutton, circa 1980:
Seven years later, when I was 12, I joined 4-H. I raised a steer, from November to June. Every year for 6 years. I’d start with a 650 pound calf, all wild and untamed, and by the end of the season, I’d try to have a tame, 1200 pound steer that I’d take to Show & Sale. We’d groom these calves, back comb the ends of their tails into bouffants, clean the dirt out of their hooves, wipe the snot out of their noses. Parade them around a ring, make them stand pretty for a judge.
Even though we couldn’t afford it, my dad made sure we had shiny leather halters for our calves.
We’d wrap the end of the strap around our hand (even though we weren’t supposed to because it was dangerous and our arms would get ripped off if the calf suddenly took off or at least that’s what the adults promised would happen), and pull that calf wherever we needed it to go. We’d also go in with a show stick.
Because the steer needed to be standing squarely for the judges to assess them. But the steers didn’t know that. So we’d poke their feet with these sticks, the calf would raise his foot, and (hopefully) put it down where you wanted it.
What the hell am I getting at?
Today was a day.
A day when I was lacking in patience/sleep/vodka.
Even though my little girl can get into a snowsuit like nobody’s business, she hasn’t mastered winter boots. Today, as I was trying to get out the door, she kept putting the wrong foot into the wrong boot. Over and over. I’d motion to her to lift her left foot, she’d lift her right. And so on, and so on. Once I got the boots on her, she was slow, so freaking slow, I finally just picked her up and strode across the yard to the car.
I sat behind the wheel, and in the midst of the “Oh shit, we’re late!” chaos, and thought.
I thought about how much easier it would be if the use of a halter and show stick were possible with kids.