Thursday, June 25, 2009

Can you like a friend but not their baby?

Recently, a dear friend visited from far away. She came together with her baby and spent several days with us. It had been years since I saw this friend and I was glad to see her, as well as to meet her baby. But as one day passed into the next, my friend and I caught up, we did lots of fun things, I didn’t find myself bonding with her baby.

The baby was skinny, squirmy, physically unstable and full of complaints. She’d smile occasionally, but never belly laughed, never seemed truly happy. She didn’t inspire an instinct to cuddle or to comfort. She screamed so much that even River got annoyed, screaming back at her as though to say “shut up!” She’d scream at him, as though to say, “Don’t tell me what to do!” and this wonderful symphony continued in the car for a good hour.

I felt bad that I didn’t feel a bond with this baby. I realized that perhaps it’s the wonder of nature that cause parents to bond with kids that others can’t feel the connection to. Mark thought that perhaps I was put off that my friend didn’t seem to bond with River – who probably seemed huge, massive and stocky in comparison with her baby.

On the last day, my friend put the baby in the pack and play, right in front of me, as I was trying to get some work done. She needed some time to pack. Very soon, the baby, who demanded constant attention, began to whine, then to poop, then to cry. With other babies, I might have picked them up, played with them, interacted with them. But with this one, I really didn’t have the inclination, terrible though that might be.

Perhaps, I recalled, this was why some of my friends didn’t rush to pick River up, to hold him, to spend time with him when he was young. Of course I expected them to because I thought he was wonderful. Perhaps the parent is unique in thinking their child exquisite while the rest of the world looks on dispassionately.

Have you been in a similar situation, where you love a friend, but feel no connection to their baby? How did you handle it?

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