When was the last time you were around a day old baby?

My stepson and daughter-in-law recently has their first child. Wow, what a great experience. Full of many emotions, thoughts, memories, especially for us mother types.

It was when my son mentioned that he'd not ever been around a baby that was less than two full days old it occurred to me that most of us aren't around newborns very often. We're usually only around newborn babies when they're our own or one of our children's children.

When its our own baby, it can quite often have been many, many years ago. Memory fails us, or fades just enough that our facts our shaky or our ideas and knowledge outdated. Some things never change, I know, but the exact details of the way things were very often do.

I clearly remember looking into my son's eyes at birth, just how dark and inquiring they were. I remember my anxieties over a newborn, anxieties about starvation and choking. I remember the concern I had when my son slept a little too long, is he still breathing?

I took my mom to visit my new granddaughter yesterday. She's a sleepy baby. Tickles and whispers in the ear have no effect on this little angel, when she's out, she's out. So cute.

The new message for "safe sleep" is pretty much baby on its back with nothing but a sleeper. No swaddling, no pillows or blankets, no toys, no nuthin'! It makes sense to me although that's not how I did it 22 years ago. Live and learn, as they say. It's the way it should be, learning from the past and doing things better.

On the way home from my stepson's my mom and I discussed the fact that she didn't have me at home as a newly born newborn. A month makes a big difference. Mom talked about how we "boarder" babies didn't get the same attention as the other babies, perhaps that's why when I came home I pretty much slept through the night on my own. It's definitely why I had sores on my face because "I slept on unbleached cotton sheets that didn't get changed often enough".

Hmm. I take all this with a grain of salt. Obviously it could be true but I don't consider my mom an excellent source of factual information on any other subject so why would I assume this scenario was true. Not that it couldn't be, I just can't be sure.

Being around my new to the world granddaughter has reconfirmed my belief that although newborn babies could possibly recognize their mother's smell or voice, they don't feel loss when they aren't in her arms or presence. They aren't born perfect little nursers who automatically latch on to their mothers' breasts and they are totally cool with any Tom, Dick or Harry holding them. It's as they grow they begin to recognize people, become attached to parents and other family members.

Love and healthy attachment aren't just a given. Good parent/child relationships take time and energy to develop, it's not something that's just handed to you along with your baby upon giving birth.

You may be attached to your baby but don't kid yourself into thinking your baby is magically attached to you. You have to be there, do the work, thus developing a bond of love and trust.

If it's that way with newborns who've had no bad experience with adults, with anyone, how can people not realize how difficult it will be for older kids who've been screwed around by their "natural" parents for years or were never really cared for at all by them, have been let down by adult after adult their entire young lives.

It's so beautiful witnessing a much wanted baby become familiar with the world and her good, caring parents. It's a treat to be given the chance to develop a grandparental relationship.

I'm a very lucky woman...in spite of the fact I quite likely slept on pukey, stiff sheets for the first month of my life.


The Perfect Dad For Me

It's Father's Day and I want to tell you a bit about my good dad.

What I say about my dad most likely would differ from what my sister or brother would say.

Quite often one child sees a parent differently than another, with many dynamics influencing the relationship. Gender, interests, sense of humor, birth order, and temperament are all factors in parent/child relationships. Also, relationships can change over time, for example I think had my brother not died so young he and my/our dad may have grown even closer as my brother spent more time being a father.

Anyway, that said, here's what I want to say about my dad.

My dad was the perfect dad for me. I know I disappointed him sometimes but I also know he truly forgave me when I did. My dad was completely dedicated to me, to all of his kids, to our family.

I know this because we talked about it once while canoeing. At this point in life I was a grown woman and mom. The conversation started out with me admonishing him for being snarky with my mom, before she even did anything annoying, almost in anticipation. I told him it made him look bad and if he was so angry with my mom, why hadn't they just split up ages ago and put everyone out of their misery?

Well, I never expected the response I got and will never forget it.

He told me there was no way he'd have ever left us kids. That if he and my mom had split up, there's no way back then he'd have gotten custody of us. He'd made a commitment to my brother and sister and I and no matter how difficult his life was being married to my mom, he would never have left us alone with her, never have put his own needs ahead of ours. In his mind, he was one of our needs.


And that was just the biggie.

My dad also coached my softball teams and never complained about the shit bag lunches I grudgingly made him. He came out to watch me participate in everything I did, and sincerely forgave me when I messed up. My dad set an example of being hard working, honest, and kind to others. He taught me about short term pain for long term gain and about pride in integrity.

I learned from him to walk away from trouble but that there's also times when there's a need for dropping the gloves to fight for myself or what's right. Yeah, at times there was a generation gap between Dad's and my beliefs but he understood and accepted that. Another lesson learned.

My dad was the most excellent grandfather to my son. How fortunate to have had a dad who provided my son with such a positive male role model. Oh how grandpa is missed.

My dad taught my son and I about finding joy in the smallest of things, a perfect butter tart or a pair of socks wrapped up for Christmas.

I was fortunate to see my dad in two lights, the frugal, hard working husband and father and the retired, laid back, "let me by you a drink" father and grandfather.

I loved dancing with my dad. Who didn't?

As an adult in the home I have now I loved preparing him a special meal, bringing him a cup of coffee, mixing him a perfect rum and coke, not too strong. He was always so appreciative, got so much out of being here with me, my husband, and my son, his grandson, his partner.

One of my last memories of dad was of him sitting here in my living room, smile on his face, and him telling me how much he loved being in my home. I cherish that and all my other memories of my dad.

I am so lucky to have had the perfect dad for me.

Happy Father's Day to all you good dads out there. You rock.