I’ve been complaining a…

I've been complaining a lot about how hard it is to be a parent, ever since Kavya was born. And it is awfully hard, and hard in ways that I didn't expect, as well as all the ways that people warned me of. I'm thinking of making some sort of graph outlining parenting over the first six months, with highs and lows marked. For me, there'd be a lot of lows, honestly. And maybe those get journalled about more, because as they say, all happy families are alike, and it's more interesting to write and read about the unhappy. But I don't want Kavi to come back and read this and think I just hated the first six months with her. Here are some things I love about being her mommy:

  1. She's an easy baby. I want to laugh as I type that, because lord, it hasn't felt easy. But really, even though she's been a bit difficult about the whole breastfeeding thing, aside from that, she's been amazingly good. Sure, I'd like it if she started sleeping through the night sooner rather than later, but she's still well within the range of normal baby behavior on that one. She never cries for no reason -- sometimes it takes us a while to figure out why she's unhappy, but there's always a good reason, and once we find it and address it, she calms right down. Kavi isn't colicky, thank the gods. She is happy in the car seat (and usually goes to sleep). She smiles when she gets her diaper changed (unlike many babies, who flail and scream.) She eats lots, and grows fast and straight and strong (she's in the 90th percentile for height right now -- how did that happen???) She's a healthy, happy baby. We got so lucky.

  2. Kavi's incredibly sweet to snuggle with when she's sleepy. I'm not sure there's a better feeling than picking up a heavy, mostly-asleep baby, and snuggling her close. I don't know why it feels so good, but it does, in a tremendously visceral way. If you're lucky, she'll be just awake enough to snuggle back into you, finding the most perfectly comfortable spot. And then your only problem is how long you can maintain that pose without your arm falling off. If you're lucky, you can ease yourself down onto the couch and lean back, and then you can both just enjoy the warmth and snuggling for a while. Caution: you may fall asleep right there, and all those dishes you planned to do just have to sit dirty a while longer...

  3. I love just making eye contact with her. She seems to be trying to figure out what's going on in my head, and I'm trying to figure out what's going on in hers. Oh, sometimes she demands eye contact when I would like to be making eye contact with my computer screen, but honestly, her eyes are much prettier than my screen. They're mostly a rich brown now, with a rim of dark blue.

  4. She's getting to be so funny. Sometimes the things she does, the sounds she makes, just crack us up. She'll make some little sound, trying out her voice, and I'll start laughing and catch Kevin's eyes and he starts laughing and soon I'm practically doubled over with laughter. You should see her in her jumperoo, lunging wildly back and forth, making the lights and noises go. It's hilarious.

  5. I admit it, I like dressing the baby. I was dressing her once, and I think I tried on an outfit and didn't like how it looked, so I took it off and started putting something else on, and Kevin shook his head and said, "Kavi, you have to learn how to talk so that you can tell your mommy, 'Mommy, I am not a dolly!'" Yes, dear, I know. You are not a dolly. But it is awfully fun to dress you up like one sometimes. In just a few years you'll have opinions on the subject, and may refuse to wear anything but your rattiest jeans and a crusty old t-shirt. But right now, I can put you in adorable pink dresses, or the little cow onesie that your Aunty Sharmila bought you, and you just smile at me. Fun!

  6. I love her smiles and giggles and outright laughs. Most mornings now, she'll be just hugely giggly for a good hour -- it makes waking up at 5 a.m. (after 2-3 interruptions in the night) tolerable. No, more than tolerable. It's really lovely. Kevin and I spend a fair bit of time these days trying to figure out ways to make her giggle. He was the first to start that game, I think, with just touching her upper lip. That worked for a while. Then I tried the Tamil game of touching noses with the baby -- I'm sure it's a universal game, but we say 'muuku, muuku, muuku' as we're coming closer to the baby (which means 'nose' in Tamil). She's a little ticklish, although sometimes tickling her tummy does win you frowns instead of smiles. It's hard to predict. She loves it when I pretend (with big growly noises) to eat her hand, or foot, or ear. Sending the baby flying almost always works, though we're tired enough these days that we can only do it a few times before we get too tired to trust ourselves swinging her in the air. Making Kavi laugh is the best game ever.

  7. And maybe most of all, I love being the mommy. It's hard exactly to quantify what that means, but some of it is knowing that when she has a bad dream, or a bit of gas, or a scratch, and starts to howl, that it's my job (or Kevin's, okay), to pick her up and comfort her. And it's so easy, and so satisfying, to calm her down with a little snuggle, a few soft, murmured words. There's something reassuring in knowing that there are some problems in life that are easily fixed. Her needs are fairly constant right now, but they're simple. Milk, suckling, snuggles, carrying, playing, company. A clean diaper every once in a while. This, this is something I can do. Compared to all the complicated problems of the outside world, department politics and recalcitrant students and books that don't write themselves, she can be so simply satisfying. Being the mommy is great! Though I hear teenagers are a little more difficult...

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