13 "Gifts" Your Baby Has Given You

Though he's officially no longer a baby, my baby is still not old enough to give gifts. Not gifts in the traditional sense, mind you, like the kind people think about and wrap and exchange on purpose. I'm talking about gifts involving mashed bananas (that aren't intentionally puréed prior to baking). Alas, there are little gifts my baby has given me nearly every day since he was born; the kind of sorta yucky gifts that only a mother’s love can make tolerable.

Honestly, I am actually fairly honored by each of these little presents, even if a little grossed out and inconvenienced by them at times. They're each a consequence of our unmatched closeness and of the total innocence required to not even realize or care that you're drooling on another person or letting your snot stain their shirt. If only he could always be as comfortable and lacking in self-consciousness as his tiniest baby self.

Honestly, the icky and uncomfortable gifts my baby gives me might actually one of the most useful gifts anyone has ever given me, now a far more recovered clean and control freak than I was in years of trying, before giving birth to him. All at once, I had to get used to the level of mess that used to make me break out in literal hives, in order to keep us both alive. That's been so liberating that I could almost forget the downsides of presents like:

Snot On My Shoulder

Sick little babies and toddlers need lots of cuddles. Sick little noses line up perfectly with the spot on your shoulder that's totally unreachable while holding a baby with the other arm. Oh, you really shouldn't have...

Drool On My Shirt

A small price to pay for a wakeful baby finally going to sleep, the very moment he's tucked into his favorite sling, close to my heart.

So Many Puddles

Puddles on the changing table, puddles on the floor by the bathtub, puddles everywhere but the diapers mere seconds from being replaced to hold those puddles.

Chewed Up Chunks Of Food In My Water Bottle

Turns out, we are not born knowing to swallow our food, then gulp some water.

Dry Hands

These might actually be a gift given to me by anxiety and germaphobia. Either way, they're the result of constantly washing, wiping, and sanitizing my hands in order to care for and play with (or deal with having cared for and played with) my baby.

A Sore Scalp

Prior to motherhood, it never occurred to me that tiny baby hands would be able yank my very grown hair out of my very grown scalp. The next two years of non-stop top knots and ponytails equal another gift of hard-won knowledge.

Cold Tea

Not iced tea. Cold tea. Tea that was hot when I made it, but cooled while I stopped him from pulling the cat's tail, and read three books three times, and fixed a snack, and re-fixed the snack because it was wrong the first time.

Mashed Bananas All Over The Couch

My son loves to stash food all over the living room, presumably so he can make his own snacks instead of having to wait for someone else to do it for him (he loves to do everything for himself). His independence and foresight is admirable, but he doesn't quite understand that soft, perishable foods don't keep well in the sofa.

...And The Wall

I have never seen my son touch the wall with clean hands. Even when he first started walking at nine months, he rarely held onto anything. Only once covered in mashed bananas, do his hands suddenly require the wall to hold himself up and race out of the kitchen.

...And The Window

How one tiny person can spread so much mush so far in such a short time still baffles me.

Cheerios All Over My Backpack

“And you will know us by the trail of crushed Cheerios in our bags, cars, and homes.” — Moms Everywhere

Torn Paper

Torn up magazines, toilet paper: not so much a gift as the price I pay to use the bathroom during the day.

More Smiles And Giggles Than I Can Count

His, and mine. Each of his little gifts amuse me (eventually), but all the times he smiles and laughs, and all the times he makes me smile and laugh, are worth every sacrifice, big and small, I've ever made for him.