Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mum's affection roller-coaster

One benefit to having a baby: There's no need to shell out good money to climb aboard a roller-coaster. With Mum, at any rate, every day brings a dizzying series of ups and downs - on her very own Affection Ride. Strap yourselves in, folks...

Slow clanking start: Things start creakily as Mum awakes at about 6 am and clears the sleep from her eyes. Sonny is just stirring, but will soon need a feed if he isn't to become distinctly grumpy. For the moment, both mother and son are in low gear.

Uphill climb: As Mum readies Sonny so Pa can haul him off to the childcare centre, she is struck by how terribly cute her little one is. She feels a growing warmth as she fusses over him and wonders why - sometimes - she can't always summon up such positive vibes. He looks ever so adorable! So helpless!

Down, down we go: All too soon, Mum is on the train to work. A half-dozen silly worries assail her. Are the people at the infant care centre doing their job properly? Can Pa be counted on to get Sonny there safely? Wouldn't it be wonderful if Sonny were just a few steps away? Darn, she misses the little fella terribly. And there are so many hours to go at the office before she can get home...

Dreary stretch, chugging along: Twice a day, Mum has to squeeze herself into a store room to express milk with her pump. She must lug bottles and motor and what have you to and from work. What a bore. She loses a good hour that could be more productively spent at her desk. The minutes tick by towards a reunion with Sonny, but they tick so very slowly...

Up we go again: Quitting time flashes past and Mum is hurrying, hurrying. Get to the train (huff! puff!), catch the minibus back to the condo (huff! puff!)... she'll soon be collecting Sonny. Mum's spirits are soaring. Sonny's smile-happy mien flashes before her as she grabs Mac the stroller from his station by the front door and scuttles to the infant care centre. Hooray! Hang on, Sonny, Mum is almost there!

Some exhilarating spins: At last. Sonny is in Mum's arms once more. He's burbling something meaningless but irresistibly cute. A nice bath, then a cuddle and a dip into the nursery-rhyme book from the library. Wonderful! Sonny must be the cutest baby in the world... Well, all right, Mum's beginning to feel a little tired and the little mons... creature seems fresh as a daisy. But it's all worth it to see him chuckle and chew on his toy fish and try to crawl, but only spin his legs like a misshapen top.

Downhill, downhill...: Why is it that Sonny gets crankier as the evening wears on? For no reason, he breaks out into crying fits. The tears, the howls - Mum can't understand why he's upset but the volume is beginning to drive her to distraction. Maybe the fella just needs a little sleep, except he won't nod off. And Mum can't really leave him alone because he's causing such a racket. She's utterly exhausted and it's past 10 pm but every time she closes her eyes, Sonny starts up again. Insists on a feed, then has a few dainty sucks before dismissing Mum like a lowly servant. Where's the respect? And did her friends say that it will only get worse as he gets older? She has years and years and years of this to go?

Bumpy end: Sometime after 11 pm, Pa gets home to find a fiercely grumpy Mum trapped between wakefulness and sleep, as well as a baby that has apparently just checked into dreamland. He even looks rather cute again. Over the next few hours, Sonny may wake up a time or two for a wee-hours snack, to be delivered by a groggy Mum who's become used to these zombie feeding sessions. Her affections are drained by the day's ups and downs. Sleep is needed to recharged the engine.

But somehow, by the time the sun gets to rising, the roller-coaster is always ready to go again.