Seriously don’t ask. I have no interest or desire to hold the baby… any baby.
Who decided that women automatically loved babies and lived to hold babies? And if you didn’t like doing this, you were weird and unnatural. Perhaps your femininity was questioned. Perhaps you were considered a terrible and uncaring mother. Where did that bullshit come from?
When did it all of a sudden become protocol that babies were supposed to be held most, if not all, the time? My mother and my grandmother did not constantly hold the baby. They did not have time. My mother worked all my life (I was born in 1957). My grandmother brought her kids up in a house heated with coal, without a bathroom and running water and modern appliances. Pioneer women did not sit around holding the baby. They certainly did not have time either. They had to help in the fields, make their own soap and take care of about a dozen kids because there was no such thing as birth control.
Holding the baby is a luxury, spawned from modern parenting techniques that are now considered necessary to raise a secure and happy baby, although babies have been born and taken care of for the past five to seven million years. So who’s to say what is correct. Holding the baby is a luxury that stems from a life filled with easy attainable food, convenient appliances, comfy chairs and foot stools. It is not necessary an instinct but instead a response and now expected reaction of our modern world.
Since when have I ever done what was expected? I am an outlier when it comes to babies. I know women who can and want to sit all day and hold grand babies, but I am not one of them. For some women, holding grand babies gives them a renewed sense of purpose–a reason to get up in the morning. I have nothing against these women. They need to do whatever works for them and makes them happy. But again, although family is very important to me, I am not one of them. The last thing I want to do is hold the baby.
Holding the baby is exhausting to me. It is hard on the arms. It is hard on the neck. It is hard on the back. It is BORING as hell. I held my own baby, my beautiful, wanted and loved, but colicky baby; and I didn’t enjoy it. I held him, I bounced him, I walked with him, I put him in the stroller and took him to the mall in the middle of winter, and could hardly wait until he was able to do some of this stuff on his own. That was enough baby holding for me.
Back then, I also put him down in the swing or the crib, and passed him off as much as possible, though opportunities were few. All I could think of was my working mother, who, at a time when maternity leave did not exist, did not hold the baby, just like most women before her. Babies were wrapped up and placed in the crib or baby carriage where they quietly did just fine for hours on end. And look at me, I turned into a perfectly good bitch. So again, who decided that babies needed to be held most of the time.
I feel the same way about sleeping. Since when did it become normal for parents to crawl in bed with their babies and even much older kids in order to get them to go to sleep at night? Really do people consider this a good thing? No wonder there are books and books and books written about how to solve your child’s sleep problems. Problems that are often created by parents who became the necessary factor that enables their kids to fall asleep every night. How is that going to teach a kid to be independent. Yes I know, I sound old fashioned, but it has only been for about the last thirty years that a lot of parents have started doing this. Think about this. Think about the rise in anxiety in children these days. Parents are involved in every aspect of their kid’s lives, including going to sleep. Kids never get a chance to figure things out on their own. They never get a chance to think for themselves at a young age. They need to learn to deal with things without a parent. Learning to go to sleep is just the beginning.
Getting back to holding the baby. Years ago a neighbour came knocking on my door to show me his new baby. We chatted for a few minutes then he said, “do you want to hold her?” Why would he ask this while standing on my front step? Would he have asked my husband that question if he had answered the door and partook in the chat? I doubt it. The look on my neighbour’s face when I said, “no thanks,” was unforgettable, and he quickly left. It was a moment I never forgot. I was being judged.
So here’s my take. If you want to hold the baby, go for it. Just don’t ask me to do it; and if you do, don’t judge me when I say no.
Thank you for reading.
Photos: Zach Lucero, Unsplash