Written by:Jeremy Baumhower
I am not a jealous man. I have been blessed to possess both an excessive amount of self-confidence and an unjustified shortage of insecurities. That even looked bad when I typed it. For the most part, these personality flaws prevent me the feeling and dealing with the crazy emotion of jealousy.
My one exception, my visual kryptonite, my Achilles, the one sight my eyes find that fill my heart with the feeling of jealousy and envy…. is when I see a young couple pushing their baby in a stroller.
Not what you thought it would be, was it?
There is something about watching two younger people push a stroller at the mall or a red shopping cart at a Target, loaded with their new offspring, that creates this sadness in my heart. It doesn’t make me cry, nor wear a frown, it simply reminds me of a time that was filled with pure happiness and hope.
These people who are pushing babies probably have no idea why a grown man with four kids would be envious. Their faces normally look tired from the lack of sleep or the constant chasing of the baby’s first steps. Their shirts tend to feature at least one stain from a recent spit up or it’s impromptu use as a Kleenex. The hair and or makeup standards for being seen in public have greatly diminished. A new list of priorities naturally occur and vanity seems to lose it importance.
These are not the same people they once were, or BC (Before Child). The miracle of life has changed them. The one common denominator I have found in all of these lesser-experienced parents pushing a stroller is they act as a team. They have taken smaller trips, figured out what has and what hasn’t worked. The trip to the mall is a big deal, going to grandmas was the minor leagues. They have done the work and have their parental routine down. They know who puts the child in the baby seat, what items they need to carry in a diaper bag, how the stroller folds up or gets big. They know what to do in case of dirty diaper or if the baby’s pacifier hits the ground. You are not a parent until you use your mouth as an emergency wash station for a dirtied binky.
Mommy and Daddy warriors who are on their first, possibly second tour of crazy or the insanity of parenthood, use the stroller as their family’s personal tank; A vehicle designed to carry and protect their most beloved items, a baby, and the things that keep a baby from crying. They normally push the four-wheel-mall-equipped vessel with the zest of two people not afraid of conquering the world. If they can pack up Junior and walk him around the Franklin Park mall, what can’t they do?
It’s that very hubris that makes me jealous. The mentality of three against the world. I am envious because these young souls are filled with dreams of what lies ahead and who their child could become. If the pregnancy was planned or not, there is always a small window of time filled with hope.
The love one feels with a younger or newborn child can often mask issues needing to be addressed to achieve these new visions of a great life together.
As someone who squandered these moments and the very dreams that accompany them, I wanted to offer you some tips for success as you and your stroller tackle the world together.
- You are a team, act like one: Take turns changing diapers and getting up for midnight feedings; even if one parent is working and the other is not, it’s a small gesture that demonstrates that you are in this battle of raising a child together.
- Date nights and trustworthy babysitters are essential: As your relationship drastically changed with the addition of this baby, so has the dynamics of you as a couple. You must find time to remind yourselves of how and why that baby happened. I know money can be tight, but the best date nights are free.
- Never allow words of love to drown your heart: Express anything from an unexpected “I love you”, a thank you to a compliment. Every parent of a young child is tired but that’s not an excuse. These randoms thoughts can make an exhausted soul breathe new life. The art of silence becomes habitual and is a leading killer of marriages. If you hold onto your words today, a tomorrow may never happen.
When my son was born, a co-worker and close friend of mine visited us in the hospital. He walked in, handed my now ex-wife a card and gift, shook my hand and whispered the words “ life is no longer about you” into my ear. He smirked, nodded and walked out of the room, leaving me with the beautiful mental grenade of wisdom he just unexpectantly dropped. I had no idea of how true his words were and still are, until it was too late.
I am sorry it took a divorce and a 50% reduction in time I get to spend with my children, to finally understand their meaning.
Time is the most valuable thing in our lives, there is no machine that grants “do-overs”. Make every minute with your new family count and you’ll have an endless supply of smiles, laughter and happiness; I promise.
For those of you who are currently pushing a stroller together… I am jealous. The future and world can be yours if you tackle it together. Now don’t f–k it up.