Sunday, May 30, 2010

I Wasn't Always Like This

When she's older, someone needs to let my daughter know that I always like this. When she's sixteen, rolling her eyes at how impossibly weird her mother acts, I would appreciate it if a friend or family member tossing a bone in my defense.

On some level, I expected motherhood would change me. I was just hoping that change could be a calming, graceful one. I was hoping that we could say, "Well your mother used to have a short temper, but you wouldn't know it." Or: "Your mother's zen-like mastery of the present, wasn't always so obvious." Maybe I've mistaken motherhood for grandmotherhood.

Instead, I find it may just make me strange(r). I firmly believe that the continuous monologue is enough to shed a few braincells and maybe drop a level of self-awareness. I spend hours upon hours talking to a tiny person whose rare reply consists of bubbles and the highly-prized rare, "Goo." The really rewarding grins and smiles come not from my eviscerating wit or sardonic silences, but from high-pitched squeaky noises. So, yeah, I'm cooing with the best of 'em.

Mommy loves baby's smiles and so mommy forfeits her use of pronouns.

The love of the smile also has transported me to a special place where life is a musical. Every occasion can issue a burst of song. This would perhaps be easier if Mommy wasn't tone deaf or strapped for creativity. "We're gonna change your diaper. Yes we are. Yes we are." I seek inspiration everywhere and am drawing heavily from what little I remember of the nursery rhymes. This little piggy went to market and this little piggy, well, he went somewhere else but I know this one cried wee, wee, wee, wee, wee, all the home. Oh hey. One stayed home, right.

And as long as I'm cooing and singing, I might as well dance. Alone. With no music. I bounce all the time now. While out with some people the other night, a young woman asked me, "Do you always need to rock the baby like that, or is this just something you do?" I wasn't feeling too charitable to the question so I let her know that I always rock myself back and forth while sitting at pubs, it makes me feel safe.

Speaking of pubs, once I was quite a home in them. I enjoyed hanging out in bars with friends, without friends, I even went while pregnant (skipping the usual consumption of course). But as I enjoyed a beer with my baby the other night, I noticed a group of college guys pointing at me and talking. I was just about to feel pretty good when I saw that they were talking about the baby being at the bar. Yes, I am going for the mother of the year award.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Open Letter to the Man who wrote the Baby Passport Photo Qualifications

This is not an example of a neutral expression.

Dear Sir:

I want you to know, sir, that I am no stranger to exercises in futility. I was an English major, hell, I specialized in 19th-century British literature. The second language I speak most fluently is pig-latin. I don't remove tags that threaten legal action. I blog one-handed. But, I have never engaged in a task so futile as attempting to meet the qualifications for a infant passport photograph.

Even if I manage to suspend my disbelief to grant that an infant needs a Canadian passport in this post-9/11 world, I still cannot forgive you for requiring that an infant passport requires a photograph. In three years, will the border guards be able to discern which two-month-old has grown into which toddler? What happens if her eyes change colour? Will our passport be invalid? In short, I was not feeling charitable toward you from the beginning, but did not imagine how difficult you could make this.

You obviously are a single man; you probably still live at home, in your mother's basement. She probably told you a stork dropped you on her doorstep. You may never have met a real baby. Babies, you see, don't really understand the command, "make a neutral expression." It's not what makes all those Kodak moments. To be fair, I have captured hundreds of blank expressions while begging for smiles. However, the professional photographer, strange studio, and plethora of clapping, snapping, clucking strangers really threw my daughter off her game.

But that wasn't all you asked of us. You couldn't just let me hold her. You specified no hands or arms holding the baby in the picture. You should try holding that neutral expression while someone has their hands under your shirt. Those hands seemed necessary, sir, because my two- month-old baby cannot perch on the stool by herself. She's slow like that. She doesn't hold her own head up consistently.

We might have managed your hoops had you left it at that. We had to come back for a second appointment because it seems the baby wouldn't make eye contact with the camera. Now don't think that she doesn't hold eye contact, because she's an eye-contacting genius of a baby. She just is particular. She doesn't make eye contact with strangers, five feet away, even if they say that name which she doesn't really know is hers.

Now after the second trip, after I WOKE HER UP from a lovely sleep, the baby gave it her very best shot and we emerged with two photographs. We had our priest guarantee that the photo was of our baby, he swore and signed it himself. We have respectfully (more or less) submitted the photograph and application.

The nice woman who took processed our information looked at the photographs and said, "Gosh, they may not accept these photographs." As I gathered my jaw from the floor to ask why, she said apologetically, "you can't see her neck."

Sir, the answer to that is simple: she doesn't have one. She only has chins which attach directly to her torso.

Yours sincerely,

Dana JW Telep