A few days after my son came home from the hospital, the stars aligned and my partner and I managed to make a spaghetti dinner. I’m still not sure just how we were able to swing it, but I know why we went through all the effort, despite being sleep-deprived, overwhelmed and confused; we were just aching for a semblance of normalcy. It’s not like our son had any sense of baby dinnertime rules he should be following, or really, any rules he should be following. He did what all babies do, which was just kinda hang out and sleep and cry when he needed something. It was pretty much what we, as his parents, had signed up for.
However, what if we suspended reality for a second and simply imagined how sweet it would be if babies could follow rules? If they could actually respond to specific instructions? My first priority, personally, would be to make sure my baby was totally an expert in all snuggling poses, and then my second priority would be to get him to cooperate during mealtimes. In between all the breastfeeding mishaps, the laundry piles and the confused calls to our doctor’s office (we were, um, a little overzealous), preparing, cooking and enjoying well-balanced meals were not exactly taking precedence. In order to sit and enjoy a meal, at a table, I needed my baby's full cooperation and, well, that wasn't something I had on a regular basis. At least, not at first as a new mother trying to navigate my way through a completely different and intense life change like parenthood.
Still, the ability to make it through a meal comfortably with a new baby by your side is every new mom's dream, so we might as well stay in dream land long enough to imagine what rules we would enact if our babies could, in fact, follow them. Of course, every mom's would be different because every mother is different, but if I had to create something of a "starting line" for baby commandments, it would look something like this:
You Will Swing Quietly Next To The Table While We Eat
The swings are perfect table height, so this can't be a coincidence. Our son regularly chilled in his comfortable swing during mealtimes. I'm a little sad that he's grown out of it, to be honest.
You Will Not Have Any Weird Allergies That Affect What I Eat
Shout-out to fellow breastfeeding moms. I went through a brief period where I questioned whether or not my son had a dairy sensitivity, and after the ringer my body had been through during pregnancy, the last thing I wanted was more dietary limitations. (By "dietary limitations," I mean "cheese limitations.")
You Will Refrain From Dirtying Your Diaper For At Least Fifteen Minutes
Please? Pretty please? Is that so much to ask? I know the total number of diapers a baby makes every day makes it highly likely it not an inescapable fact that at least one will happen while I'm trying to eat, but I have to at least ask.
You Will Not Stare At Any Screens We Forgot To Turn Off
OK, technically it's my fault that the television is on and that's in my baby's line of sight. However and to my defense, I'm too tired to get up and turn it off, so I'm just going to ask for my kid's cooperation on this one.
You Will Not Fall Asleep This Close To Bedtime
I know that asking a baby to swing casually and not doze off is a tall order, but no one said anything about this list of requests being grounded in reality.
You Will Not Attempt To Eat Food You're Definitely Too Young To Eat
Good thing you lack basic motor skills, otherwise I'm sure the meatballs on my plate would be totally in your mouth.
You Won't Ask For A Meal Of Your Own
It doesn't count as "enjoying my meal" if I have to stop and breastfeed or prep a bottle. It only counts as "enjoying my meal" if I can do it from start to finish without having to stop and tend to someone else.
You Will Not Cry
Is it unreasonable to ask a baby to refrain from using his or her primary method of communication? To recline peacefully and silently for a few minutes? Wait, please don't answer that.
You Won't Spit-Up Milk You've Already Had
To be fair, spit-up actually isn't as gross as I thought it would be, but still. Tending to it would mean putting my fork down, and that's precisely what we're trying to avoid here.
Basically, Nothing Involving Any Of Your Fluids Will Happen
Actually, drool is okay. If you need to drool, that's fine. That's not a problem.
For Fifteen Minutes, You'll Let Me Feel Like An Adult Again, OK?
A girl can dream, right?