By Renee Bond
About a month after Kicky was born, I was watching her and my husband happily staring at each other like just being together was the best thing in the world, and I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about that.
Don’t get me wrong, I can’t be more pleased about how much Jeff loves our baby and how much he helps out with her. Kicky loving her daddy is absolutely a good thing, too. What got to me was a bit of jealousy that this baby was so obviously happy with Jeff, but it seemed like everything I tried to do for her just made her mad.
Jeff, of course, didn’t see things that way. He insisted that Kicky adored me. When I pointed out that her adoring eyes were staring at him, not me, he answered, “Sometimes you get so busy thinking about what’s next that you don’t notice the way she gazes at you.”
I had to admit that Jeff was very likely right. Kicky’s feeding sessions (which were often a 2-hour procedure involving nursing, bottles, and pumping) left me with little time and less energy. I dealt with it by trying to prioritize and squeeze in other tasks in every available minute. I tried to pare down to the essentials—keeping my baby and myself clean and fed, with clean clothes and bottles—but even that much seemed to take all of my available attention.
Making sure my baby had clean bottles and enough milk as she needed was enough to distract me from the fleeting moments of real connection with her.
At least, I let it take my attention. After Jeff’s comment, I made sure to take a moment every day to just enjoy being with my beautiful girl. During those moments I could see her gazing at me, and it’s only gotten better as she’s learned to smile and laugh. I treasure those moments, and find that they really become a highlight to my day, even when it’s not long before I have to get back to one of the less-pleasant tasks involved in caring for the baby.
Well, for the first few weeks I was getting those moments of connecting with Kicky every day, and then I started thinking about how soon I would go back to work and all of the projects that I wanted to get done before then. Pretty soon I was right back to trying to plan every second of each day to make things productive, and stressing out when there was never as much done at the end of the day as my plan called for.
This time I realized my mistake by myself. I recognized that while time to do projects might come at a premium when I went back to work, I’d miss time to enjoy caring for my baby without worrying about other work even more. So I decided to spend every moment Kicky was awake playing with her and doing what she needed. At the end of the day, I found that I had accomplished nearly as much as when I was focusing on projects, but my attitude was ten times better.
At church recently, I heard a phrase that really clicked with me, “It’s hard to remember that your objective is to drain the swamp when you’re busy fighting alligators.” I find that it doesn’t take anything as overwhelming as an alligator to distract me from the joy of parenting, but when I take the time to clear my head and turn my attention back to baby Kicky, her adoring gaze is always there for me.