It’s inconceivable. Young parents now look like kids to us. We are speaking about the thirty-somethings you see in the park, pushing prams that look like Transformers (Optimus Primary Years!), sipping their soy lattes, carrying diaper bags full of eco-friendly Bum Genius 3.0 cloths*, and gathering in Mommy/Baby cliques by the swingsets. We’re envious, we admit it. Our baby-making years are over (we decided after one child we were done), but we sometimes wish for the child who still snuggles, coos, writes little misspelled notes, hugs our knees and says “I love you Mommy.” These days, we’re lucky if we get a grunt of acknowledgment from our “baby” as she emerges from the bathroom after one of her marathon makeup application sessions.
Lots of young parents are stay-at-home moms and dads who blog about their experiences in parenting like a guided adventure tour. Like the aging mother we are, we sometimes browse these sites to be reminded of what it’s like to have a small child, to be new at parenting, to have a sense of wonder and amazement at that gas-induced first smile. There are plenty of blogs out there to read, and each one reveals the personality of the blogger-parent. There’s the advice-giver who tags posts by topic “Discipline,” or “Making Your Own Baby Foods” to the funny dad who chronicles his life with twin daughters. Some parents start with the first positive pregnancy test and write about everything from morning sickness to ultrasounds. One young mother wrote all about her struggle to become pregnant, her miscarriages, a heartbreaking stillbirth, and then finally the joy of having a perfectly normal daughter. There’s a lot of honesty out there.
When we were pregnant, we wrote notes and bad poems to our daughter in one of those black and white composition notebooks, and continued to write in it off and on for about four years, tucking photographs and notes to the tooth fairy in-between the lined pages. An entry from December 31st 1994 recounts the amount of words she was able to say (over 100! wow!) , notes that she called caterpillars “nonnies,” and ends with a promise for a “really great” second birthday. It’s an entry resplendent with the lame fatigue of a new mother. The next entry is the day of her second birthday, which was described as a “toddler whirlwind.”
Maybe it’s the honesty and specificity of these parenting blogs that we’re envious of instead of the new parenthood. There is something to be said for being able to get in the car without all the Graco trappings, for engaging our 17 year old daughter in a philosophical conversation, and making the connections between who she was a child and who she is as a young adult. It’s cool, actually. We try not to dwell any poor parenting techniques we might have employed in the past (Did you know the “time out” is now frowned upon?). However, we sure do wonder about some of the benign phrasings being used these days. “You don’t have the freedom to ___________” is used to discourage negative behaviors. We can’t help but fill in the blank with "You don’t have the freedom to wear mommy’s bra as an aviator cap, put a saddle on the cat, and play ‘Pilot on the Prairie.’”
For now, we’re content with maybe getting a dachshund, visiting with our friend’s new babies (we like being an aunt!), and reading about the most elaborate, Star Wars themed first birthday party ever. It's delicious, vicarious living where we don’t have to clean the blobs of Bobba Fett cake off the floor.
* Since when do diapers have version numbers?