By Allison Adams 07-10-11 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun 07-11-11
My firstborn child left the hospital in the arms of a mother who was petrified, but perky. We wore matching outfits home.
My “baby fat” fell off of me and I was back at my pre-pregnancy weight by the next day.
I was prudent and resolved to raise my daughter by the expert-authored, dog-eared, how-to-raise-a-perfect-child books, which were kept at my fingertips at all times.
Everything my firstborn did was an event – carefully chronicled in calligraphy on the linen pages of a leather bound Baby Book.
The camera was always ready to point and shoot, and photo albums were stuffed with candid prints.
Expensive studio portraits of my firstborn were displayed in expensive picture frames that sat upon every surface inside a house that was childproofed like Fort Knox and sanitized like a hospital operating room.
My small world came to a screeching halt when her naptime rolled around, which was at precisely the same time everyday. No. Matter. What.
My firstborn slept in a new crib, rocked in a new chair, started school in a new dress, and learned to ride on a new bike.
Her outfits were always clean and pressed and perfect, and a matching bow-that-ate-Tokyo was always affixed upon her head.
At one time or another she took lessons in ballet, tap, karate, gymnastics, piano, guitar, pottery, and I even bought her a harmonica … because it was important that she be well rounded.
My second born child left the hospital in the arms of a mother who panic-struck and begged to anyone who would listen to be allowed to stay for a few more days.
Once back home I bathed irregularly, dressed only in soft, elastic-laced clothing (accented with a burp rag) and lived in my house shoes.
I had misplaced my how-to-be-a-perfect-mother books, so I winged it.
Everything my second-born baby did was met with a smile and a clap of my hands. I occasionally wrote stuff down on the back of a grocery receipt, or a napkin, with the intentions of transferring it into a baby book that I’d buy next time I went out.
I took a few candid photos of her whenever I could find my camera, but we rarely visited the expensive portrait studio.
My house was still childproofed, but more like a 7-Eleven. And it was still clean … but more like a 7-Eleven.
My second-born baby slept in a hand-me-down crib in a shared room. She wore hand-me-down clothes, played with hand-me-down toys, and learned to ride on a hand-me-down bike.
When my naptime rolled around I closed us all up in the same room and we played the “Quiet Game”.
Her play clothes were clean but never saw a hanger.
Her precious, but unruly hair stuck straight up or hung in her face, and it always smelled like fresh flowers or peanut butter and jelly.
She went to playgroup and learned to swim at an early age … because it was important that she be well rounded.
My third baby was born 45 minutes after I arrived at the hospital. I dressed him in a Onesie and carried him home 23 hours later because I had things to do.
I've never lost another pound.
He doesn’t have a baby book, but I think I have his shot records.
I taught his older sisters how to use disposable cameras to take his picture, and if I ever put my hands on those I’m going to get them developed.
Truth be told, I occasionally dressed him in his sister’s primary colored hand-me-downs. Nothing he wore remotely resembled a matching outfit. Footwear was optional.
The floor of my house was a minefield of matchbox cars and Legos.
He napped sometimes.
He played in the dirt, ate paste, taught himself how to ride the next-door neighbor’s bicycle, and I made sure he had his own house key by the time he was in the first grade … because it was important that he be well rounded.
Well. This explains so much.