Updated: February 7, 2013 6:15AM
I love babies, but I’m not naive.
I realize how much work it is to have a baby. Still, I found myself reminiscing around the holidays after seeing so many infants and toddlers. With every fond memory, I was reminded of the struggles that come along with looking after a little one.
I went back and forth like this for about a week. My internal tug of war evolved into a column. So I hereby present a back and forth about what I miss and what I don’t miss about having a baby.
I MISS mealtime. Babies will swallow mostly whatever pureed foods you spoon into their mouth. They might spit up. But if you just keep shoveling it in, eventually they swallow. This leaves a healthy diet entirely in the parent’s capable hands.
I DON’T MISS being unable to communicate. Babies can only cry or not cry. The first solution is always to check for a dirty or wet diaper. If that’s not the answer, a baby is either tired or hungry. And if those options fail, blame gas.
But what if your baby has a tag scratching his or her neck or is gagging on your bad breath? The only way for them to communicate anything is to cry.
I MISS the way babies can stare endlessly at someone or something. Their penetrating gaze is intoxicating. I know few people who can resist smiling or gently waving when locking eyes with an infant.
I DON’T MISS warming up bottles, thawing out breast milk and buying formula. Bottle-feeding is an all-around pain. And as a dad, nature’s option isn’t available to me.
I MISS watching television with a baby on my belly. Now, my boys want to watch their own shows and movies. But with a baby, I could watch whatever I wanted without any objection from the little man nestled into the bend in my arm.
I DON’T MISS childproofing. Stepping over baby gates, walling off the Christmas tree and guarding the staircase like a sentry are necessary safety precautions I was delighted to abandon. Having children old enough to know not to touch a hot stove is truly a godsend.
I MISS the way other people light up when a baby enters the room. Folks are still happy to greet my family. But to see someone’s face when they are handed an infant is special.
I DON’T MISS waking up in the middle of the night. Humans are designed to sleep at night and be awake during the day. Unfortunately, nobody tells you that when you come out of the womb. It’s something you have to learn by exhausting your parents.
I MISS frequent visits to the doctor. Strange as it may sound, I took some comfort in those regular office visits. It’s a chance to ask questions and gauge how your child was doing (this percentile or that). We only go to the doctor now when the boys are sick or when it’s mandated prior to school enrollment.
I DON’T MISS carrying a diaper bag. I never thought changing diapers was much of a chore. But lugging that bag around was a drag. And God forbid you forgot it. That’s the day your child poops pond water.
I’d also like to mention how quickly the infant and toddler stages pass by. I remember people telling me this when I was elbows deep in diapers and burp cloths. At the time, I often replied that some days couldn’t go by fast enough.
But when it’s all over, the infant and toddler years seem to pass in the blink of an eye. You may even find yourself reminiscing on what you miss and what you don’t about having a baby.
Howard A. Ludwig is a former SouthtownStar business reporter who traded his reporter’s notepad for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.
He can be reached at email@example.com.