There's nothing like an infant
Today I met a mother whose children are almost 10 years apart. She reminded me of my childhood neighbor, who was 25 years old when his youngest sibling was born.
In another 25 years, I'll be closer to senior citizenship than childbearing age, so I doubt that I'll ever experience such a large gap between kids. However, even in the two years that ensued between the births of our two keiki, I found that I had forgotten exactly what it was like to have an infant around. After our son (No. 2) was born, I remembered anew why I love babies:
• Cuddliness. With their big eyes, squeezable cheeks, velvety skin and chubby limbs, who can resist snuggling an infant? Being bald, plump and unable to hold a conversation may not be as attractive a couple of decades hence, but somehow those traits make babies perfectly adorable.
• Diminutiveness. After our daughter was born, I cradled her tiny head in one hand, and over the ensuing weeks, watched in amazement as her eyelashes unfurled one by one. Looking back now at the ink prints of her newborn hands and feet, it is almost unfathomable to me that our now-toddler was once so itty bitty.
• Innocence. With their lack of cajoling, manipulating and pretenses, babies are as genuine as it is possible for humans to be. Our interactions with our son are refreshingly straightforward, knowing that what we see is what we get.
• Scent. My mother enjoys sniffing babies' feet. Pre-motherhood, this sounded decidedly unappealing. However, I can now appreciate that, aside from the dirty diapers, infants have a certain natural fresh scent. It's not like perfume or flowers, but catch a whiff of a newborn's breath and you'll know what I mean.
• Movement. "I really miss the crawling stage," a mom once told me. At the time, eager to experience our daughter's first steps, I was perplexed. But now, watching our son crawl, it really does seem cute. I also love it when he bops to music, or pulls himself to standing so he can peek at us over the crib rails.
• Expressiveness. Content? When our infant sleeps, he seems to be the embodiment of peace. Upset? His mouth turns upside-down, his lips tremble, and then out comes a WAIL. Happy? With his wide-mouthed smile, arms flapping and legs kicking, our little one displays joy with his whole body.
• Firsts. When our daughter heard a bell for the first time as a newborn, I'll never forget how her mouth opened in an "O" and she turned her head from side to side in wonder. The first year is indeed a year of an amazing number of firsts (e.g., word, steps, food, etc.) for babies.
• Love. My former colleague used to remark that when his keiki came to meet him at the door, all his day's burdens would disappear. Truly, it is close to pure joy for my husband and me to see our baby greet us, his face lit up with a huge smile as he babbles gleefully, scrambling as fast as he can towards us.
While most of the other characteristics listed here are specific to the infant stage and sadly, though necessarily, fleeting, I am glad that this last and most important one, love, will endure.
Reach Monica Quock Chan at firstname.lastname@example.org.