This is going to sound awful, but hear me out. My favorite sound in the world right now is the sound of my little baby niece Alice crying. The sound is absolutely breathtaking to me. She is the spitting image of my oldest when she was a baby, and seeing her brings me right back to the time when my oldest was her age, just 4 months old. I hear this beautiful girl cry and I start to jump up to act and then I remember that this is my niece and it is my brother’s turn to panic and freak out so I just sit down and calmly enjoy the sounds. I see my brother frantically looking for a binky and then him finally smelling the dirty diaper and thinking “How the hell did she poop AGAIN”. I see him and his wife giving each the looks of “I changed her last time, and I think you should do it” and I just smile and remember being them, exactly them.
A couple weeks ago at her Christening she was crying and my brother and his wife were passing her back and forth, trying to calm her down. A baby crying in church echoes very loud. And all I could do was smile, I couldn’t stop smiling.
I smile because I get to watch my brother go thru all of this. I get to watch him struggle to quiet my niece because he thinks that sound is his fault. That noise to a parent, or at least to me was awful. I felt like I was failing and that everyone around me who could hears the cries felt the same way. I remember being in his shoes.
I smile because my brother is one of the good ones. The panic and the freaking out and the worrying that everything isn’t perfect is all part of it. I can just see it, or feel it. He was a great brother, turned into a great guy, and now he will turn into a great Dad. Someday Alice will wake up and be very lucky she has him on her side.
My oldest is 14 and about to start babysitting. She’s a really good kid, the wife did a really good job with her. I remember all the firsts with her. I remember the apartment and the panic when the wife had to go to work and I was home alone. Literally my thought process was “keep her alive, keep her alive”. I remember her crying in the apartment when it was just her and I and me thinking that the world could hear her and that everyone just wanted me to get her to be quiet. And the longer the crying went on the worse a Dad I became. Each cry felt like it lasted 2 years…..
I look back on that time with rose colored glasses now… I miss it. At the time if you told me “Someday you will miss this” I would have tried to admit you to a mental hospital. But, it turns out, you would be right. I miss the hell out of it. I love, love, love my life right now. But, that sound of little baby Alice crying is music to my ears.
At the time you’re just thinking about making the crying stop. You are just trying to get from one dirty diaper to the next. Trying to fast forward to when they can walk and you don’t have to carry them anywhere. Fast forwarding to when they finally go to school and you get your normal life back. And then you wake up to the sound of your alarm and not a screaming kid and you miss it. You wake up and your driving your daughter to babysit another kid. Your kid is trusted to watch another kid, what a weird time in my life.
So, when baby Alice cries and my brother starts to panic I smile. That part of my life is over, but baby Alice reminds me of how awesome it was. The diaper bags and car seats and binky’s and the onezies. I never thought I’d miss those days, never thought I’d look back and wish I back in that apartment getting my little girl ready, putting on her coat and hat and mittens and putting her in the car seat only to realize she had a dirty diaper and I had unzip the coat, remove the hat and mittens and change the diaper only to realize it soaked thru her onesie so she now needed a bath. I miss it.
So Alice, while Mom and Dad try to calm you down just know Uncle Marky is smiling. You don’t know it yet but you have already brought so much joy to his life. Someday I’ll tell you all about your Dad and how I always have been tougher and cooler than he ever was!