My new mom vibes
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.