Today is the start of my school district’s Spring Break. I had a four-day camping trip scheduled and my older daughter’s 40th birthday party to help organize and I knew I would be fretting about Katie and the baby and missing her and now I don’t have to. Fret that is. I get to take a walk with a pseudo mask. I get to hunt for magic in the streets of Queens. I get to make phone calls home and text tons of Baby Millie photos to my West Coast family. I get to blog. I get to read my gigantic 500-page book. I get to knit and realize knitting is kinda boring. I get to watch my daughter bathe the baby for a first time. I get to cuddle and wrap myself in rapturous powderesque baby love.
It’s funny how an infant’s poop doesn’t smell bad. It just smells like baby and you don’t even mind changing their diapers because you get to pat their cute little chubby marshmallow butt and sing songs and try to enchant them realizing it’s really the other way around.
There’s something about being around a baby that wipes away all the problems of the world. They open their little eyes and it’s like the sun shining through the limbs of a tree in full bloom. It’s like seeing beyond the stars and realizing that there’s so much more than now.
What a time to be born.
In the spring. With daffodils and puffy clouds and blue skies and grey skies, if you live in NYC, and apartments blasting with heat and neighbors upstairs who play the drums past 10 p.m. and yell and scream and you think maybe you need to call the cops, but you don’t because it’s NYC.
You go for a mid-day walk with a yellow scarf wrapped around your face because you were told before you traveled here that masks were stupid, and you notice things like silver railings that frame brick homes and you think, “Hmm, that’s different.” And you notice a brown-leisure-suit-mottled-marble fence guarding a two-story duplex and wonder, “Why?” Then you turn the corner and your mouth drops at the blossom-laden trees and the neon blast of Spring bulbs and bushes that jazz up gardens that aren’t so well kept and realize, maybe for the first time, that there is air and sky and people who care and that even though no one else is on the street, you aren’t alone. There are Signs of Life everywhere.
The neighbor who was kind enough to sweep up the trash in front of his garage, then when I say, “Thanks for making the street look nice,” he said, “No problem.” The guy sitting on the stoop smoking a cigarette who asks, “How’s the baby?” The dog walker who makes sure I have ten feet to pass before offering, “Have a nice day.” Now these aren’t fireman honking horns outside Manhattan hospitals amazing deeds. They are normal, how’d ya do? moments that I’ve actually never had before when I’ve visited my daughter’s Queens neighborhood. But I can see people are trying. They are trying to look at your eyes. They are trying to say nice things. But I can also see they are scared.
Fear can do crazy things to the brain. It can make us suspicious and stingy, on edge–not at all like our youthful Spring selves. Fear makes us old and grey and sick.
Babies are Spring. They give us hope. They give us a reason to believe in goodness and fellowship. They give us a reason to pay attention to the birds and the fragrance of the pink magnolia tree three doors down. By the way, if you’ve yet to do so, go outside and see for yourself. Get yourself geared up with your “outside clothes” and take a stroll. You are bound to see something simple that is simply amazing.
And when you get back to the apartment or your house or recreational vehicle, go online and order some flower and vegetable seeds. Give some to your neighbors. Come Summer, when we safely breach our cocoons, we’ll collectively breathe a sigh of relief at the sight of sunflower-feeding Monarchs and the caw, caw of seagulls dancing in the morning dew.