After two years and four months with my compliant first-born, I had, I thought, certain understandings about babies. One of them was that when people want to hold the baby, that said baby would entertain those people in an adorable and engaging manner. Another expectation was that I would have ten minutes a day all for myself.
In the early 1990’s there was a TV show called Dinosaurs where the baby dinosaur was attached to his mother. His response to any other people was “Not the Momma.” Though we were still in the 80’s and the show debuted in the early 90’s, I am convinced that Susie was the prototype for the show. She had no time for other people, but she was a real cuddle bug with me.
I fell in love with her in spite of the lack of time alone. After she was crawling, I tried to get a solo stint in the “necessary” one night. I snuck out of the living room and tiptoed down the hall. I didn’t turn on the light or close the door. She missed me and began the trek down the hall and passed the bathroom saying “Mama, Mama………..” in time to the sound of her knees.
Sweet as she was in her devotion to me, it presented certain challenges. Her “fussy hour” coincided with time to cook dinner. I could nurse her until she fell asleep and before I could open a cookbook she was singing her “I’ve been abandoned” song. I tried putting her in the “Johnny Jump-up” over the doorway. The idea was that she could be able to see me. Except she was crying with her eyes shut.
One day I remembered the front carrying baby tote I had received when Bethy was a toddler. I looked at the gas range and the length of my arms and decided that if I was careful, I could bundle her into it while I made dinner. It worked! Susie slept and I knew she was fine. Bethy lost her worried look because Susie was not crying and Daddy came home to a peaceful house with dinner on the table.
And the summer and the winter were the fifth year…