I’m very grateful that my second week as a self-employed freelance writer and media consultant was even more hectic than the first. I happily juggled three clients and five projects, hitting all my deadlines with time to spare.
Two press releases I’d written got picked up by local media, including print and TV. And the validation via positive comments I got from pleased clients reinforced my choice to go solo. Good stuff all around.
Add to the mix a last-minute houseguest for two nights (more on that in another post), and funeral visitation for a distant relative, and you’ve got one busy girl. By Friday, I was so tired that I went to bed at 10 p.m. and slept until almost 9 the next morning.
Anyhoo, I worked so hard the past two weeks that I decided I was entitled to a weekend off. So I took it.
One of the highlights of the past weekend was spending time with my BFF, Whitney, and her 5-month-old son, Raylan.
I am not what you’d call a “kid person.” In other words, I don’t get all gooey every time I see a baby or toddler in public. I also don’t feel the need to hold an infant because we happen to be in the same room together, like some women I know.
I like MY kid, and the kids of a few people really close to me, but I don’t think that kids in general are all that darn cute or interesting. I have to feel some kind of connection and affection to a child in order to want to interact with him or her.
Because Whitney and I have been like sisters for almost 10 years, I had an immediate attachment to the kiddo she popped out in October. I wrote about it here. Yep, I fell in love with that sweet little booger butt the minute I saw him. So I have actively sought out quality time with Raylan and his momma since then. (Daddy, too. He’s a really good man.)
On Saturday, I met Whitney and Raylan out at a clothing store, and pushed him around in the stroller while his mom tried on clothes. She’s in that transition stage where her body hasn’t quite bounced back, so she needed an interim wardrobe between maternity and pre-baby.
For the record, she looks fantastic, despite her protests to the contrary. I remember those days – back in 1995 when my son, Ethan, was born, it was so hard to look in the mirror and see a stranger with a paunch staring back at me. My perception of the paunch and reality were two different things, but that didn’t stop my self-esteem from taking a hit. I know Whitney feels the same way now, so whatever I can do to support her, I’m all in.
After shopping, our group of 2 1/2 went to Bluegrass Brewing Co. for a late lunch. Raylan was the perfect little angel all afternoon, which Whitney and I recognized as the gift that it was.
I got to thinking about how much I admire Whitney for the way she is approaching motherhood. In many ways, it’s the polar opposite of how I handled those first few months of Ethan’s life.
For one thing, I was 22 years old when my son was born, and Whitney is 38. To sum it up … I was scared and totally clueless; she was excited and prepared. Being a young mom meant I had a lot more energy, sure, but I had no idea what I was doing and was often a nervous wreck. I hated going out in public with an infant because I was terrified he would have a fit, and I wouldn’t know what to do. I also was too embarrassed to breast feed in public.
Whitney is SO laid back and calm with her son. I marvel at her serenity every time I’m around them. She takes Raylan everywhere, and has no problem feeding him right there at the restaurant table (modestly covered up, of course).
My son, Ethan, was a high-maintenance kid. Still is, in a lot of ways. And I wonder now if my paranoia and fear that I would screw up made him that way, to some extent. I’ll never know for sure.
Another difference I see in my much more grown-up BFF is that she has not allowed her identity to be completely hijacked by her role as a mama, like I did.
For the first 18 months of Ethan’s life, Amy ceased to exist. There was only Ethan’s Mom. I didn’t work or go to school during that first year and a half, and I was alone in a tiny apartment with him 90 percent of the time, so it’s no wonder my identity got lost.
It was only when I went back to finish my undergrad degree that I started to re-emerge as a viable member of society. (I truly believe that when I finally got my “self” back, I became a better parent.)
Whitney went back to work when Raylan was 3 months old, and she has said more than once that it has been a saving grace. The trade off is that she is exhausted and goes to bed at 8:30 p.m., but she recognizes how important it is for her to have interests outside of feeding schedules and diaper changes.
I know I shouldn’t compare my situation from nearly two decades ago to Whitney’s life now. I did the best I could at the time, and I have no regrets.
But it’s so interesting to measure the differences between the parenting choices of a young, inexperienced girl and an older, more mature and settled woman. I’m sure this is just the beginning.
All that said, I am getting such a kick out of watching my best friend’s journey as a mom. I am REALLY enjoying my time with baby Raylan. With Ethan only two months away from his 18th birthday, it’s so nice to relive some of his milestones through another little boy I just happen to adore.
Yes, I’ve had a great couple of weeks of work, so it was nice to top those off with some baby snuggles and BFF bonding on Saturday afternoon.
I hope to have a lot more weekends like it this year, and for many years to come.
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After 10 years, she's still just saying.