In the early days of Baby’s life, I began to form a vision for what I wanted our relationship to be like. It was very much informed by the popular TV series The Gilmore Girls, which I watched during every midnight and early morning feeding for the first several months of Baby’s life.
(This is one of my favorite tips for new parents: find something that makes you look forward to the midnight feedings and they won’t feel so bad!).
Some insist that breastfeeding should be done without distraction to encourage bonding with your baby. I argue that watching The Gilmore Girls while feeding Baby in the middle of the night fostered a tremendous bonding experience. Cuddling with Baby in bed while watching a lovely mother-daughter relationship play out in front of me felt like the perfect start to the relationship I hoped to build. Each night I was inspired by creative parenting ideas (one of my faves: Lorelai – the mother – wakes up Rory – the daughter – at the exact time of her birth on her birthday to tell her the story of the day she was born. Once I can handle the thought of having Baby up at 5:30 in the morning, I’m totally stealing that ritual). And each morning I woke imagining the possibilities of the mother-daughter bond.
But each day, it felt like the days of Baby and I doing any kind of fun, mother-daughter activity were a lifetime away; separated from us by solid food trial and error, tantrums, and potty training.
Then, came last Thursday.
M had headed to a work-related dinner after work, leaving Baby and me to a rare evening to ourselves. I considered sticking with our normal Thursday night routine in which I make tomato sauce and pasta for dinner, with Baby’s help (she can turn the food processor on and off like nobody I know). But it all just seemed like a lot of work to make dinner for just the two of us. So instead, we went out on the town. We started out with some light shopping, in search of cards for upcoming birthdays. Then, in response to Baby’s repeated mentions of rice (one of her favorite foods) we walked over to a nearby Mexican restaurant. We sat outside, enjoying the warm, late-spring evening, munching on chips, tacos, quesadillas, and of course, rice. Afterwards, we took our time walking back to our car; I indulged Baby’s signature dawdling, which normally drives me crazy. We stopped at every bench for Baby to climb up and back down and stopped for her to inspect every tree on the way to the car. Back home, our bedtime routine went surprisingly smoothly (lately Baby had been refusing to let me put her to bed, somehow having determined that all bedtime activities are now Daddy’s domain). It was a simply lovely evening.
Ok, so it wasn’t just like the Gilmore Girls. And it wasn’t exactly like the mother-daughter time I had pictured. We didn’t talk over dinner about our days, or the books we’re reading; instead we discussed every bus that drove by (Baby: ‘Bus! It’s a bus!’. Me: ‘Yep, that’s a green bus.’ or ‘That one is a truck!’). And we didn’t wander in and out of the shops we passed between the car and the restaurant; instead we lingered at each stick on the ground and played repeated games of ‘I’m gonna get you!’ all the way to the car. But still, when I sank into the couch after her bedtime in happy exhaustion, I felt so much closer to her.
And I felt excited. If hanging out with Baby can be this much fun when she barely has enough words to string together to make a sentence and has the shortest attention span known to man, I can only imagine the fun that lies ahead. The Gilmore Girls have nothing on us.