Posted by: emjb | October 15, 2005

Waiting and seeing

In the corner of my living room is a chair, the Useless Chair that came with the apartment–it’s made of wrought iron and has a plywood seat with crappy cushions. You sit on it only at need, and the rest of the time it’s mostly for stacking your crap on.

On the Useless Chair now is an infant carseat in a rather snazzy blue plaid pattern. The stroller it can attach to is folded up and stuffed ungracefully next to the couch. But the carseat sits there, waiting. In a fit of whimsy, and to show Matt how the little seatbelt harness worked, I put a stuffed animal in it. And suddenly, it was all a little too Real to both of us.

That seat is there for a baby, and it’s going to have one in it soon. A baby not much bigger than a stuffed animal. A baby we cannot even really picture in our minds. Height, weight, hair color, personality…all a mystery at this point. A complete stranger who may or may not take to us right away. But who is stuck with us for the next couple of decades or so.

Trying to imagine a normal day with this person is hard. It seems impossible that we will be entertainment enough. The feeding and changing we can probably manage, but the rest of it—the bonding and playing and talking to him–seems a bit doubtful. Will we just end up sitting on the couch and staring blankly at each other? It’s like preparing for a years-long blind date. What if we’re utterly boring and unstimulating parents?

I know, this will seem funny to me soon. I know the little synapses in parents’ brains fire up and tell them how to talk to their babies, for the most part, and that, strange as it seems, a person who can neither talk nor control his own drooling will come to seem as fascinating to us as if he were a tiny Albert Einstein. And that he, for lack of any better experience of the world, will find us just as interesting. And then our world will include baby talk and discussions about poop, a lot of the time, and we’ll be ok with that. I hope.

In the meantime, I can’t help thinking that I’m on some sort of weird vacation called “maternity leave”, and I wander around the house, doing the bit of work I have left over, tidying a bit here and there, making occasional trips down the block to the store, and feeling mostly confusion over what I’m supposed to be feeling. No dread, just no knowledge of what is ahead of me. No impatience, yet…I’m tired of being pregnant, but it’s manageable.

It’s a very strange place to be in, mentally. Matt feels it too. He and I look at each other now and then, and at the carseat, and we basically shrug and go about our business again.

We wish we knew how things were going to be. But we don’t know a thing, not really.

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