Desensitized to parenthood

We’re waiting for our third child to arrive. We’re waiting passively. It will be a great day when he comes, but we aren’t counting down the weeks. We did that once, and it was fun, but by the third kid, the waiting becomes routine. It doesn’t mean we’ll love him less; it means we know what’s in store for us.

During the first pregnancy, the excitement and nervousness kept us invested in every new development. Most things we couldn’t see; luckily, we had a book to tell us all the changes our unborn child was experiencing. We consulted that book for a Baby Development Review every week. My wife read the progress report aloud while I made amazed comments: “Wow! Our baby has a neck now!”

We always knew how many weeks we had invested and how many we had yet to go. If you’d asked me, “When is your wife due?” I’d have answered, “In sixteen weeks and three days; probably around 9 p.m., I figure.”

Things are different now. I couldn’t find that What’d Your Baby Grow This Week? book to save my life. We’re going on faith that if the baby doesn’t have a neck yet, he’ll sprout one by his birthday. We still do the fun stuff, feeling him kick and whatnot, but we’re not pressuring him into growing fingernails by a certain date. He’ll be ready when he’s ready. God willing, so will we.

There’s an edge to parents that gets smoothed down by each successive child. That’s a good thing, because that edge can get between two parents and scrape the thin skin off both of them.

I can see the difference between our first and second boys. With the first, my wife was particular about the routines she developed for him. I was defensive about my ignorance of these routines. I’d be giving the boy a bath and my wife could see I was doing it contrary to accepted practice:

WIFE: “That’s not how I rub soap in his hair.”

ME: “It’s how I do it.” (Thinking:  Everything doesn’t have to be done your way.)

WIFE: “Here. Just let me do it.”

ME: “No. I’m perfectly capable of washing his hair.” (Thinking: You’re not the only competent parent here.)

We’d be disgusted with each other all day.

Now, when I bathe the second child, (Thinking: Oh man, the ball game’s about to come on.) I’ll act clueless about washing his hair:

WIFE: “Is that the way you bathe him now?”

ME: “Yup. Daddy’s running this show.” (Thinking: Go ahead, step in and take over. What kind of mother are you, letting me do this all wrong? Just put one hand on the boy and this bath’s yours. Touch him. Just go ahead and see how fast I run away to the TV.)

WIFE: “Whatever.” Then she claims the TV for the Lifetime Network while I’m stuck washing the kid.

I sure hope there’s nothing on TV when this new one needs a bath.

Shut up kids. Our program's coming on.

“Dang it, Martha, those young’uns can bathe themselves; The Lucky Strike Hit Parade is about to come on the air.” (Image: Russell Lee/US Farm Security Administration)

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14 comments on “Desensitized to parenthood

  1. Traci says:

    A friend of mine (mother of 5) once said, “The first child doesn’t see scissors for three years. By the time you get to number three, you hand them a set in the crib.” Since all of her children had not one, but two eyes, I guess she knew what she was doing.

  2. A. van Nerel says:

    So if we follow this line of thinking, let’s say you have a fourth boy at some point: would he just be given some shampoo and a brush the moment he steps out of the womb? Kidding of course, but I guess it makes sense that, when you already have two boys that grow up fine no matter how you wash their hair, you allow your attention to go elsewhere when number 3 pops around the corner. Maybe it’s more fun that way, seeing as you worry less and possible enjoy more?

  3. Julie says:

    Scott just throws our kids into a tub of water and lets them fend for themselves. And he runs out with hands over his ears at the mention of “vagina”. Been doing this for years now. Ha!

  4. Yeah, while G$ was scaring some poor woman senseless at the mall by playing on the escalator in a way she didn’t approve of, we assured her it was ok. We have two more in case this one breaks.

  5. yearstricken says:

    Probably third-born children don’t need as many baths.

    BTW, the Lucky Strike Hit Parade was one of my very favorites. When I was small, I skipped baths to watch it.

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