I recently attended a baby shower. Did I ever learn a lot! I probably got last place in the game we played – guess the price of several baby items. Winner is closest without going over. If I’d bought those items I wouldn’t have brought enough money with me. Of course, I wouldn’t have bought them in the first place. I had no idea what some of them even were. Apparently things have changed since I was in the baby market. And no prize for last place.
If I thought I was out of my realm here, just wait until we got to the gifts. My friend sat in front of a crowd of people opening bag after blue bag of cute little baby items. At my baby shower, many years ago, no one had ever heard of gift bags. We put our gifts in boxes and wrapped them in wrapping paper. Really – this must be a ploy for tissue paper manufacturers. Scads of that stuff everywhere. Blue and white and printed with designs. Fortunately I was in step with the times enough to have brought my gift in a bag of tissue paper too, so I wasn’t showing my age - just yet. Anyway I’m not even sure if stores sell wrapping paper any more.
And if I felt dated before, what was inside some of those bags made everything worse. I’d never heard of something called a Bumpo seat, but I was assured every new mother must have one. Swaddling cloths with Velcro closures. I could figure out the basics of what to do with those, but it was certainly something my children never had. We wrapped them in blankets as well as we could and called it good. Baby monitors with two-way audio? Or video? Really? My baby monitor was like an oversized walkie-talkie with static pouring out that sometimes picked up neighbor’s telephone conversations. And my favorite – a blooming bath seat. Pretty and so fun looking. But my kids had an oblong shaped yellow sponge to lay on for baths and by the time baby #3 came along the sponge was in at least three pieces, soon to be more. It never even occurred to me to buy a new one.
My gift to the expectant mother was a hand crocheted baby blanket. Honestly, with all the new cutesy stuff everyone else gave her I felt like an old granny in a rocking chair, needles clicking and a ball of yarn unwinding at my feet. I suppose people still use baby blankets but they’re certainly not the staple they once were what with sacs, papoose carriers, hooded wraps along with the afore-mentioned Velcro-ed swaddling cloths. Well Ok then. I just admitted my age and distance from anything baby related by my gift. My friend was nice enough not to mention the antiquity of my hand-made contribution.
But, is it possible I know something younger moms don’t know? Does she know the sweet little baby boy she’ll soon be dressing in all those cute clothes will someday grow up? Does she know he will grow taller than his mom, sprout whiskers and speak in a bass voice? Does she know he will go off to live his own life one day and take his mama’s heart with him when he goes? I suppose she knows all these things on the surface but deep down, way deep down, does she give these realities enough credibility to prepare for them? I know I didn’t.
I look back at my life from when my boys were little. Such sweet little boys, young faces and bright eyes forever emblazoned in my memory. Now they’re adults, even if I do still see little boy faces when I look at them.
My oldest son lives half way across the country with my beautiful daughter-in-law and obviously gets along quite well without Mom looking over his shoulder. How can that feel right to a mother’s heart?
Randon makes his home in heaven. He is safe, happy and secure forever. Does that mean I don’t think about him or miss him? Hardly.
My baby has matured into a college man. He still needs me for some things, primarily to do with my bank account. But, for all intents and purposes, he is his own person, independent and living his own life. My influence is part of him but it is what it is. He’s too old for me to continue to shape and mold him. He is his own.
Long story short – my babies are grown up but they will always be my babies. Every year on his November birthday I send a FB message to son #3, from the old Blake Shelton song that hits home every time I hear it. “I don’t care if you’re 80, you’ll always be my baby.” He’s gone from being embarrassed by it to a grudging acceptance. Last year I believe he even included a thank you in his response.
My babies may be grown men but they are still my babies. My friend’s new son will be her baby forever. I do believe if you asked my mother she will still say I am her baby. The definition of baby is not the tiny human being you hold in your arms after 9 months of pregnancy. It is what happens in your heart when you take your first look at them and carry with you for the rest of your days.
Anyway, it’s not such a bad thing to be Mama’s baby. Someday my boys will get to inherit a gazillion books, boxes of half used yarn skeins and my great-grandmother’s napkin collection. It can’t get any better than that.