Friday, October 23, 2009

Baby, We'll Miss You...

This is it. Chapter 18, page 281 of the Better Homes and Gardens Baby Book, published in 1965: "At five years of age, it is generally considered appropriate to mark the end of the baby period."

This book and I have been friends for almost 16 years. Dug out of the innards of a thrift store's bookshelves, the retro-parenting manual has led me out of the depths of parenting despair more than once, and not just by its sage advice.

As a twenty-something, newly pregnant wife struggling to make a traditional family out of a disjointed marriage, this book provided refuge to a quieter mode of life that I could, however delusional, imagine myself within. A favorite of over 2,500,000 mothers wouldn't steer me wrong, would it? Especially during the June Cleaver era.

Nearly ten years later, pregnant again with a sense of joyous anticipation I had not felt the first time, the Baby Book and I became reacquainted, this time to laugh at the sketches of cloth diapers, bath tables, and 1960's maternity wear.

While much (okay, most) of the child-rearing practices would be considered archaic today, I still kept my copy, even passing it along to others so that they, too, could enjoy its delightful and amusing, prose, especially over a glass of merlot.

But I don't have any use for it anymore, because I don't have a baby. I have a little boy and a big boy and a house filled with Legos and toy cars and lightsabers. No more baby blankets, footed jammies, or sippy cups. We've gotten rid of the board books, outlet covers, and even the toddler car seat.

But I won't give away my Baby Book. Our relationship is too close and too intimate to allow somebody else to caress its worn cover and turn the now musty-smelling pages. I'd feel disloyal, as if I were throwing away a partner.

I wonder if the other 2,499,000 other mothers felt the same way?

Happy Birthday, little, er, big Bear.

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