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Five things I miss about babyhood

Last weekend I visited with a friend who is pregnant with her first. It was fun to talk with the two future parents and hear in their voices the same excitement and anticipation I felt five years ago, before Grace was born. Though I must admit, I had to stifle hysterical laughter when dad-to-be said, "I'm not worried about it at all. I mean, my life's not going to change...."

You just keep telling yourself that.

Amid stories about trips to Babies R Us and some really good pizza, I started to think about all of the "baby things" that my toddlers don't do anymore. While I don't miss changing diapers at 3:00 in the morning, there are several things I do miss. They should tell me, "Dad, this is the last time I'm going to do this. Pay attention, because this is it. Ready?"

Here's my list of five things I miss about babyhood:

1. The grasping reflex.

Once the kids were weaned and using bottles, I loved feeding them. I had a whole routine worked out. I sat on our bed, with one pillow against the headboard. The Boppy pillow lay across my folded legs with a towel folded on the far right corner.

With the baby in my left elbow, I'd hold the bottle with my right hand, and every time, Grace (and eventually William) would grab and hold my right pinkie. I know that it was an involuntary reflex, but that involuntary reflex was the highlight of my day.

Eventually, they wanted to hold the bottle on their own. No more holding hands with dad.

2. Supernatural sleeping powers.

Most parents complain that babies never sleep. I say they sleep often, though it isn't always when we'd like. Either way, you've got to love an infant's ability to fall asleep anytime and anyplace.

Consider how much easier a trip to the mall was with a newborn. A couple minutes in the stroller and junior. was out like a light, despite the noise, lights and teenagers doused in enough cologne to wake the dead.

Compare that to the same trip with two toddlers. "I have to go to the bathroom. Can we go on the carousel? I'm hungry. I'm tired, will you carry me? Stop hitting me! Can we get a puppy? William peed."

3. A naked fascination with everything.

I can remember Grace staring at her own reflection as if it were honest-to-goodness magic. Or William handling his toys with fascination and wonder, as if he had discovered the Rosetta Stone. I can't imagine literally experiencing everything for the very first time, so it was tremendously fun to watch.

I'm not saying that their sense of wonder died when they hit four, but the things they see every day -- trees, fire in the fireplace, the flowering bushes in the yard -- no longer elicit the same awed reaction.

4. Portability

While I was talking with my friends, the conversation shifted to the Baby Björn. If you're unfamiliar, it's this complicated contraption of straps and a pouch that essentially lets you wear your kid as a shirt.

With junior strapped in, you've got hands-free access to your day, closeness with the little nipper and the peace of mind that he's safe and secure.

Try putting a five year old in one.

5. The ignorance

Consider an 18-month-old's perspective of the world. It's quite compact. In fact, it's probably limited to mom and dad, toys, fun, food and sleep. No war in Iraq. No bills. No ridiculous gas prices. No illness, sadness, loneliness.

No video late fees, finding a broken egg in the carton, running out of milk when you really want some cereal or forgetting to charge your cell phone.

There's just you, the awesome adult(s) who loves you, the cool toys and the swell grub. Must be nice.


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