Confession: I can’t recall the first time I left the house without my baby. I mean, I have a good guess (anniversary lunch with my partner, during which time my mom stayed with our son) but my memories are so cloudy from those early weeks, thanks to a boatload of exhaustion, that I’m not completely confident that there wasn’t a round of errands or some sort of appointment that happened beforehand, that left my baby with someone else. Still, when I try to think back on that somewhat monumental moment, I can't help but wonder what my baby was thinking when I left for the first time. Like, I know that developmentally object permanence wasn't a thing, so my baby probably didn't just know that mom was going to return. But, did he even notice? Could he tell I was no longer around? Was it a "thing?" Or, did my kid just wonder where the person attached to the floating boobs was? Yeah, probably the last one.
Since I'll never know for sure, I do have a few guesses as to what might have been going through my baby's mind when I left for the very firs time, and it’s a mix of excitement and fear, not unlike Owen Wilson’s excellent Armageddon performance. Still, early-aughts movies, as thorough as they are in their representation of baby feelings (*cough*), don’t provide the full spectrum of emotions that I suspect our little ones experience when they are sans mom for the first time. It’s like the infant version of getting a driver’s license, or signing your first lease, or realizing you can tune into Netflix without having to wait for your partner.
If only baby's could speak. Then again, it's probably for the best that they can't. Not right away, at least. So, in the name of complete speculation and because we'll never know for sure, here's what I'm almost positive (but definitely can't prove) a baby thinks when mom leaves for the first time:
"I Didn’t Know This Was Possible"
Just you wait, kid. This is only the beginning of the many mind-blowing things your parents will do during your lifetime. Wait until I introduce you to Beyoncé.
"Shouldn’t You Be Staying?"
It depends on who you ask. According to the people who comment on Chrissy Teigen's instagram, I should be. According to everyone else and especially seasoned mothers who know that they need time away from their baby in order to care for their baby to the best of their ability? Yeah, it's OK for parents to be regular people, too.
"Um, Shouldn’t I Be Going With You?"
That's a fair question. I don't have an answer for you, unfortunately. It's a complicated issue that's exacerbated by hormones and feels and the fact that you're wearing adorable pajamas which are so impossibly cute that I can barely tear myself away from your presence.
"Are You Absolutely Sure About This?"
Yes. Yes, I am. I'm going to step away and you're going to remain in the care of someone else (capable and trustworthy) and everything's going to be fine, and I'm definitely not going to cry the whole time. No way. Not me. Nope. No tears.
"Wait, Don't I Have A Say?"
It'd be cool if you did because that would mean you're able to communicate complex feelings and I wouldn't have to go through the list of potential problems, wants and/or needs whenever you start crying. However, you're a little young for that, so no, I'm afraid you don't have a say in this.
"What If I Need Something?"
Don't worry, that's what cell phones are for. Your grandma will totes let me know if something's up, and she'll probably even do it with an actual phone call that I'll have to actually answer, since she doesn't believe in texting. Everything will be fine.
"What If You Need Something?"
That's a little different. I'm going to practice being a grown-ass woman who can function as a grown-ass woman without her baby in her arms. No, I'm not crying, why do you ask? Who's peeling onions?
"What If You Can't Remember How My Head Smells?"
Now you're just being silly. That's impossible.
"Hope You Have Enough Pics of Me On Your Phone"
Me too, son. Me, too. I've already deleted every other app I own, except the one that tracks your diapers and nursing sessions, so hopefully you don't do anything amazing in the next twenty minutes that requires photographic evidence because I'm kinda stuck with the six hundred images I have.
"Want To Take My Blanket With You?"
Um, yes I do, actually. Thank you for offering. I'm just going to hide it in my bag and pull it out to rub all over my face every three minutes or so. That's totally normal, right?
"Don't You Need Pacifiers And Diapers And Wipes And Antibacterial Hand Gel?"
Oh, um, no, I don't. I could see how that would be confusing though, seeing as you've clearly noticed that I pack a million things into a tiny bag every time I leave the house with you.
"But, Like, You're Coming Back, Right?"
As soon as I can. In the meantime, this exchange is definitely not making me think about the beginning of every heart-wrenching Disney movie that includes a dramatic parental send-off.
"No, Seriously. When Are You Coming Back?"
In twelve minutes. Maybe ten, if the line at Starbucks is short enough.