How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Baby

I love kids, and thanks to my firm conviction that there's nothing inherently wrong with treating spaghetti as finger food, they generally love me right back. But about six seconds after my daughter, Julia, was born, it hit me that kids and babies are two entirely different creatures. Children are resilient; your baby is squishy. Plant children in from a Wiggles video and you can sleep another 45 minutes. Offer your baby a check for $25,000 and round-trip airfare to St. Barts and you're still going to be up playing patty-cake at 5:15 every morning.

Nurturing a baby is supposed to come naturally, but the dirty little secret of mommying is that sometimes it doesn't. A simple feeding of mashed carrots left both of us looking like an early Jackson Pollock. I'd have felt less panicky defusing a midlevel nuclear device than clipping Jule's fingernails. My lullabies were off-key, my diapering was lopsided. I counted the minutes till nap time, and lunged at a Pottery Barn saleswoman who suggested I "enjoy these days—they go by so fast."

But 21 months and an excellent antidepressant later, I'm pleased to announce that the days do fly by and despite endless teething, a broken Barney a lost Elmo, and 19 torn books, I find myself enjoying most of them. That's because I finally figured out that a Hefty back with neck and arm holes keeps the carrots off me, and a rousing chorus of the hokeypokey provides enough distraction to get a respectable percentage of the carrots into her. I also learned that the main requirement of parenting is being there. I don't have to be delightful if I don't feel like it, and I don't have to be brilliant; I just have to give it my best shot, keep a ton of baby wipes within reach, put some other poor sucker in charge of her manicures, and make sure she knows I'm hers—unequivocally.
—Lisa Kogan

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