Return of the Rise of the Son of the Baby People

Posted: October 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’ve pretty much always known I wanted a kid.  That’s been an abstract truth for my whole life, and unlike so many other things that shifted as my social consciousness evolved, it didn’t vanish with time.  However, there was a good long stretch from when I was in my late teens on during which I had between zero and negative baby-interest in a concrete way, with respect to real babies in the real world.  Other people’s babies were leaky, wiggly, stinky meatballs, and made for extreme awkwardness.  This happened many times:

Once a kid crossed over into a fully-sentient entity that observed and reacted to its environment, it started to be something I could relate to.  Sure, we might not hang out or have fascinating conversations, but this notional being would be at least as interactive as a small dog.  Until then, I just didn’t understand why someone thought I’d want to hold their doomspawn.

Moreover, I was increasingly concerned by an undeniable pattern I’d observed in people I knew once they had had children.  So many brilliant, dynamic, fun, seriously awesome people had kids and suddenly became Baby People.  Almost between one day and the next, they went from people who could talk to you about art, philosophy, social justice, technology, and so on, to people who would never stop showing you ninety identical pictures of their infant drooling on something or wiggling.  It was like they were pithed with a pacifier.  What’s more, they would tell you about baby things unbidden; asking how they were was asking about the baby.  The friends I’d known were in effect gone from the world.  This pattern terrified me, and I vowed I’d never be One Of Those.

Between the baby-indifference and the grave concerns about mounting dullness as a person, you might think that I was more than a little deluded about it being a good idea to be a parent.  Well, welcome to the wild world of human internal paradox.  But an interesting thing has happened really recently.  We’re 11 weeks in to the pregnancy as these things are reckoned (and how they are reckoned is a topic for another post) and somewhere in there, maybe 2-3 weeks ago, I started thinking other people’s babies were cute and fascinating.  It doesn’t take up all my awareness or anything, but neither am I faintly horrified upon being handed a child to hold, and it’s actually a pleasurable thing.  S and I were talking about this yesterday, and she raised the interesting point that she’d had plenty of baby-exposure in her younger life, and thus it was a familiar thing to her.  Thinking about that I realized I lacked that background, and new humans were simply beyond my ken as well as my interest.

I still want to remain well-rounded as a human being and be able to hold conversations with my peers that are not related to babydom unless they ask me first.  Given how the Kinderschreck left me abruptly, I may find myself eating those words as well, but I think this phenomenon is less a question of loss of an irrational aversion and more a determination to relate to others in a particular way.  We shall see…

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Comments
  1. Saz says:

    Resembling the comic above. 🙂 Armed with the knowledge that you were headed for parenthood someday I figured handing you my kid was good experience for you. Also it’s really nice to have a break from holding them all the time and nice to have a different vantage observing the kid and it’s good for them to experience / interact with other people too. M never had any prior baby exposure growing up either.

    RE: “baby people” -When something takes over your world physically, mentally and emotionally, it becomes the sole focus of your brain and hence, conversation with others as well. One’s identity changes so dramatically as a new parent, that it is easy to lose yourself for awhile. Sure there are other things that still interest you, but maybe not as much as this new super amazing project you’ve taken on.

    Emotions aside, it’s completely fascinating to experience how our brain develops from tiny blobs into sentient humans. All my reading from pregnancy on turned to baby-related biology, neurology, sociology, etc. because I really want to groc what’s going on for my kid and if I do XYZ will it make a difference?! Science! Bawahahahaa!

    When around others, it can be hard to fathom that they aren’t as totally taken with and tickled by your tiny critter as you are. Also, when so totally engrossed by their care needs early on, it can also be difficult to keep up with other subjects in the outside world, especially when the primary caregiver. You will quickly become an expert in the subject of your baby (very steep learning curve!), hence the topic of conversation choice.

    If you are able to keep up with other subjects as well, awesome. But if not, we won’t hold it against you. We will hold your baby and nod and smile at all the disgusting little details about poop, which may or may not be interesting to the rest of us, but will be fascinating or amusing to you. Because having and raising a child is such a crazy, amazing, loving, fascinating, difficult, frustrating, exhausting, yet rewarding experience, you just can’t keep it to yourself! So even at the risk of becoming a baby-person tm yourself, please do share! 🙂

    -Saz

  2. Tristan says:

    I think it’s possible to be somewhere in the middle – find your kids endlessly fascinating (because, lets be honest, there’s a lot of interesting development in those early years) while still managing to maintain some grown-up-speak.

    But if you guys devolve into telling me about your kids potty habits, I will sit you down, pour you a drink, and give you a friendly slap across the face.

  3. Sasha says:

    @Tristan: Better yet, arrange for a babysitter and send us to a movie or something!

    I certainly know that I’ve been obsessed with pregnancy a bit. It’s pretty weird science. I have a human growing inside me OMG! This is the only time I’m going to experience this particular phenomenon, so I’m willing to indulge it a bit. I imagine I’ll be somewhat baby obsessed, too, but I’ll try to remember that not everyone is.

    @Saz: I am always happy to hold Andrew and hear about his poop.

  4. hellibel says:

    I agree with both Saz and Tristan above. It does get easier, once you are out of the baby stage, to not put all of your focus on said infants.

    Nowadays my answers about the kids can be brief – Sarah is in 1st grade, loves to read, good at gymnastics; Nate is 2, has an amazing vocabulary, loves the iPad, hates to fly. And that’s kind of the end of my kid story. And then I can get on with the rest of my life – which includes things like PTA president and class mom, among other things. You will find that, too. In the beginning it is so completely all-consuming – and then it just kind of mellows out into the way things are…

    But Saz said it perfectly – we will be happy to hold your baby and smile and nod when you want to talk about poop, or swaddling, or latching, or sleep training, or starting solids, or whatever. And we will all rejoice in the big mushy mess that kids turn perfectly rational adults into.

  5. Joanna says:

    Hi Nate! Congratulations to you and Sasha! Excited to see this blog.

    I just had to echo Saz’s post: the inability of a new parent to talk about art, philosophy or current events is definitely real. For me it was the result of little sleep. Carl and I managed to get out of the house, but when I found myself at a party, standing next to another human I vaguely recognized from my previous life, and realized that I was expected to speak syllables to that human, quite literally the only words staggering around my brain were “I’m so tired. I’m so tired. I can’t believe I am this tired.” I definitely have the feeling that Sara and many others describe – my pre-parent identity has been annihilated, *along with the nature of many pre-parent relationships,* in a way I admit I did not expect. I’m glad to see parents of older kids say that this feeling mellows with time, because for now, I’m not gonna lie, that loss of identity is a little traumatic.

    I don’t post this as a bummer. On the one hand, I kind of wish more people had warned me about it before Arden was born. On the other hand, the pregnancy hormones had me so bizarrely blissed out for 9 months that I probably would have ignored them completely.

    I have no doubt whatsoever that you and Sasha will remain smart, interesting, and well-rounded people, so forgive yourself in advance for brief lapses into Baby People.

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