Jun
25
2009

  Second Mystery Of Motherhood Discovered

I've found the answer to another one of those things that are particular to mothers. Before I had William, I would notice that women with kids would be SO EXCITED about any dumb thing their kid started doing, and it puzzled me. Sure, it's great that the little rugrat can stand on one foot, but does it merit a full three minutes of conversation??

But earlier this week, when William stuck out his tongue on purpose for the first time (he was imitating me, and I got him to do it several times during the day to be sure it wasn't a fluke), I found myself telling Terry about it in some length and detail.

And I KNOW it's a pretty dumb thing to get excited about, but it did help bring me to this epiphany. Women with infants get excited about any new little thing their baby does because their life really is that mind-numbing that these tiny developments are big news. When you're feeding you child every 2 or 3 hours, and it takes 20 to 30 minutes for a feed, you are spending A LOT of time with the little sucker (literally) attached to you. And it's relentless-- there are no days the infant "forgets to eat" like adults can do from time-to-time. At best you've got an hour, maybe two, when he forgets to eat (but then there is usually hell to pay when he wakes up STARVING).

So the mother spends a lot of time with a baby that really doesn't do much. The baby is dull, dull, dull for months at a time. Sure, there is some cuteness daily, even many times per day, but it's not all day every day. So when a baby does something new, like stick out its tongue, it's exciting because it breaks the monotony!

So now I've discovered the one-two punch of poignancy and monotony. So these little incremental changes in the baby's behavior get the mother's attention because they break the monotony of their routine. And this moment of discovery is the poignant part, because after a while, the new behavior just becomes part of the routine, and it loses it's power to charm. When William has been sticking his tongue out for six or seven years, I'm sure I will have had enough of it. And so you pick up the crying baby, and wait for the next thing that distracts you from the unrelenting chore of caring for him.