I always said I would never be one of those parents that beamed with pride every time my kid did something, like fart. You know the parents I’m talking about. They show you their newborn and then regale you with endless tales about how the precious little lump can gurgle and spit up at a five-month-old level. And have you ever seen a more perfect poop? The kid can poop perfectly every single time. Look out, Harvard.
But not me.
And that lasted all the way until I took my own precious little lump out on the town.
Yes, just the other day I took my two-month-old to my husband’s office for a quick lunchtime visit, our first big excursion out into the world together besides our daily walks in the park. Which means it was the first time I had showed him off to a large group of people. And being a new mother, I had no idea what I was in for.
As soon as we got in the door, people started “oohing” and “ahhing” over him. And soon thereafter, the silent “Someone Brought Food, A Puppy Or A Baby” alarm that all offices have went off, bringing people from all over the building to ogle my baby. We couldn’t walk two feet without running headfirst into another compliment.
I fought it for as long as I could. I really did. But soon all the “he’s so adorable!” and “look how alert he is!” comments started to get to me. My head started to swell and I started to agree with everything they said.
“Such a well-behaved baby!”
“Look at that red hair! That’s so rare!”
“What an angel!”
“He can hold his head up already? That’s amazing!”
I even started silently agreeing with people when they told me I had done such a good job, like I had personally sculpted his perfect cherub face with my uterine muscles while I was pregnant, rather than what I really did for nine months, which was eat cheeseburgers in bed and fart a lot.
Pretty soon I heard myself saying things like “he already sleeps through the night” and “the doctor said he’s tall for his age.”
I wasn’t just beaming with pride about my kid. I was downright bragging about him. I have leftover pizza in my fridge that is older than he is, and yet I was acting like my baby had cured cancer in between his rigorous napping schedule.
I had turned into the kind of parent I hated. But it’s so hard to resist the siren call of public approval. Sure, you think your baby is the most adorable, not to mention smartest, child to ever exist. But when you also have a group of people confirming all these things to you in a high-pitch squeal, it’s almost impossible not to create a monster.
Luckily, once we got back home, he had an epic meltdown, which as it turns out is the perfect antidote for Giant Ego About My Baby syndrome. It quickly brought me down to earth and we returned to our mundane daily routine of feeding, changing and yelling at the dog to “Stop licking his face, dammit!” And once again he was just a normal baby and I his (mostly) normal mom.
Although, I’m pretty sure I heard him say “Momma” while he was crying.