When I was a little girl, I had a baby doll; it was one of those real life baby dolls that, as the name would suggest, looked like a real baby. His name was Baby Jason, not just Jason, but Baby Jason. I don't remember much about the time I spent with Baby Jason. I know that I would carry him around with me from time to time, and sometimes he would go for a ride in my Wilma mobile (aka my play car that I thought looked like the Flintstone's car and affectionately named accordingly.) Other than that, Baby Jason just hung out in his own little corner until I felt like dragging him out and playing with him. Only the joys of childhood and the bliss of ignorance could make child rearing, let alone baby caring, look so simple.
When I was 23, I had a real baby. Her name is
Laila, not Baby Laila, just Laila. Unlike Baby Jason, Laila doesn't just wait
for me to be ready to play with her. In fact, Laila doesn't really like to play
that much at all, and she doesn't really like to sleep either. Laila likes for
me to hold her and sing to her. By the end of the night and after about 50
encores, my voice is sometimes nonexistent.
I have no Wilma mobile
to cart her around in, and to be honest, the idea of driving her around in my
Escort scares the living day lights out of me.
Baby Jason never
cried; Laila does, and it is a production when she does. Laila will grunt and
cough and grunt some more before she starts wailing like it is going out of
style. The minute I pick Laila up, the crying stops. It's almost like a game to
her. She lays in her bassinette trying to predict how many grunts and coughs it
will take for me to go over there and pick her up, and I lay in the bed or on
the couch or any other somewhat flat surface (because mom's, like beggars, can't
be choosers) and try to figure out how much longer I can let her go before she
starts to get really angry.
Baby Jason wore a diaper, but I only
changed it when I felt like it, and I am sure that was a rarity. Laila loves to
have her diaper changed; in fact, I am almost worried about how much she enjoys
the prospect of being naked. The moment the onesie starts getting unbuttoned,
Laila starts smiling. I don't really mind the diaper changing that much;
however, I am somewhat alarmed by the number of times Laila has peed on me and
puked on me and, to be completely honest, pooped on me too. I never knew that
being a mom meant having all kinds of bodily fluids flung all over you at a
Though it seems rather obvious, I feel the need to
state that Laila and Baby Jason are nothing alike. Baby Jason never needed me.
There's something rewarding about being a parent and the moment your baby hears
your voice, she looks around the room searching for it. And as odd as it might
sound, I even like it when someone is holding Laila and she hears my voice and
suddenly the only person she wants to hold her is me. Baby Jason was plastic.
Laila is eyes that could light up a room, a sideways smile, a bottom lip that
she sticks out to pout, a furrowed brow when she is serious, lips puckered in
the shape of an "O" when she is listening intently to someone talk, and two rosy
cheeks on the sweetest little face that her mommy loves to kiss.
always thought that being a mom was like being a teacher, in the sense that it
was my responsibility to instill in my child whatever knowledge I might possess
about life. Since Laila's birth, I have realized that being a mom consists just
as much of filling the role of teacher as being the student. Because of Laila I
have learned to take the negative in life and see the positive. For example, I
have never appreciated four hours of sleep as much as I do now. Laila has
reinforced to me the importance of family and never taking for granted the
people that are in my life. Most importantly, Laila has taught me to respect my
mom in a way that I never thought was possible. I now know what it is like to
love another person in such an all consuming unconditional way. Elizabeth Stone
once wrote, "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide
forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." If Laila has
taught me anything, that is the one truth about motherhood I know.