My new mom vibes

Maryland Independent - - Southern Maryland Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

Like the Pied Piper, I some­how called them to­ward me. It wasn’t in­ten­tional. I had no idea it was even pos­si­ble. And to be hon­est, it still sur­prises me.

But chil­dren? I think they like me. I guess I give off Mom vibes. At a fam­ily party over the week­end, we gath­ered to cel­e­brate a cousin’s birth­day. We’re a week away from my son turn­ing 1, and I’ve been in a fes­tive mood. I mean, I love par­ties: plan­ning them, at­tend­ing them, throw­ing them for oth­ers. If we don’t cel­e­brate life’s big and small mo­ments, each day just marches along: a dull pa­rade.

And pa­rades can­not be dull. Pretty sure that’s a law.

Of the 10 chil­dren at the Satur­day party, Ol­lie was the youngest. It’s funny to see him in­ter­act with other kids — lit­tle friend­ships I’ve only ever glimpsed be­fore day­care each morn­ing.

It’s both strange and cool to think my son has a so­cial life that ex­tends be­yond us. Once at morn­ing drop-off, a grand­par­ent men­tioned her grand­son had “called” Ol­lie on a play tele­phone be­fore bed. “Ol­lie, you didn’t an­swer!” she joked.

In Fe­bru­ary, a note ap­peared in our bot­tle bag: a valen­tine from A., his part­ner in crime. A. loves all things “Frozen,” and the Elsa val- en­tine with their names care­fully scrawled on the back . . . well, it made me a lit­tle teary-eyed. We hung it on the fridge.

I watched my son ob­serve the big­ger kids on Satur­day, his head swivel­ing as they chased each other and helped the birth­day girl rip open gifts (and I do mean rip). Oliver was un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally quiet, but I saw the cu­rios­ity in his eyes. Maybe he wanted to join in.

At one point I plopped on the floor be­side Ol­lie, try­ing to dis­tract him away from a tan­ta­liz­ingly-close dec­o­ra­tive bowl . . . and as soon as I was on the ground, a strange thing hap­pened. A crowd formed. My lit­tle cousins and their friends clus­tered on the quilt I’d thrown down. It was like I’d cast a magic spell, played a spe­cial flute: the kids gath­ered, wide-eyed and play­ful.

This has never hap­pened to me. Not ever. Un­til I be­came a par­ent, my re­la­tion­ship with kid­dos could best be de­scribed as . . . ob­ser­va­tional. Dis­tant.

I have al­ways liked kids, cer­tainly. Ba­bies are cute. They make funny faces. As chil­dren get older, it’s fun to color and play games with them. It’s bol­ster­ing to see their en­thu­si­asm for the daily life we take for granted, and I’m al­ways happy to share a story, tie a shoe or sneak them an­other slice of birth­day cake.

But did kids ever like me? Well. Un­like my sis­ter, who pro­jected “fun aunt” en­ergy for years be­fore she ac­tu­ally was one, I didn’t know what do with them. What to say, what to do . . . how to play.

I was a busy kid with an ac­tive imag­i­na­tion, and Katie and I could get lost for hours in imag­i­nary games. We loved Bar­bies and Cab­bage Patch dolls, Uno and bad­minton.

But it’s been many years since I played for the pure joy of play­ing. Kicked a ball, blew bub­bles, made a sloppy pa­per air­plane. Un­less pudgy hands were pass­ing me a book, ask­ing to hear about the Cat in the Hat, I just . . . didn’t know what to do. Now? Mom vibes. Within sec­onds of crouch­ing down with Ol­lie, my cousins and young friends came over to tell me sto­ries, of­fer blan­kets, share stuffed an­i­mals. An adorable boy popped up to see what we were do­ing, and with­out warn­ing? He started tick­ling me. Tick­ling me! I laughed harder than I have in a long time. It was un­ex­pected, so funny: the pure, im­pul­sive joy of this sweet kid see­ing a chance to sneak-at­tack with tick­les, then cack­ling like a ma­niac when he suc­ceeded. (To be fair, I am an easy tar­get.)

It mat­tered, this mo­ment, be­cause of what J. saw in me: some- one he could tickle. An adult who knows how to play.

I wouldn’t have been a year ago, too far re­moved and re­served. Too likely to cringe or laugh awk­wardly, to stand back from the crowd. To won­der if I look silly, or de­cide I’m too busy. Not some­one to sit on the floor, surely.

But now I curl up, legs crossed and arms open.

I’m ready. And I’ll never hide from the Tickle Mon­ster again.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.