It will seem like a miracle, like a farce. You’ll double-take and time will stop. Inevitably your heart will skip a few beats when, at some point in the first few months, your baby cracks his/her first smile!
This is an amazing time! It’s the first little bit of feedback that your baby is actually having an alright time. (It is no small wonder that babies are born with this little mechanism pre-installed, off the shelf, ready for playback… parents need this sh*t so bad!)
Your baby’s smile feels like a bolt of electricity going right through you. You’ll be so goddam excited about it you might drop the kid and call your friends and throw a party. “MY KID LOVES ME AND HE’S HAVING A GREAT TIME WITH ME!!!“
That’s what your baby’s smile will feel like. But don’t call anyone. Don’t schedule a party. Don’t drop your baby.
What Your Baby’s Smile Is, Actually
The thing is, Your baby’s smile means more to you than it does to them. They could be simply going through the whole, “what do these muscles do” thing; it could be just a twitch of the facial framework.
But to you, wandering and parched in the desert of early parenthood, your baby’s smile is like water flowing underground from some immeasurable depth; sweet, sweet water… It will make you high; full-on intoxicated, like, stumbling about mumbling double rainbow type phrases.
“It LOVES ME!! It REALLY LOVES ME!”
Just like any other narcotic, you can get addicted to it. And addiction to your child’s smile and happiness is one of the hardest of all to recover from.
Just ‘Cuz It Feels Good Doesn’t Mean It’s Right
From your kid’s perspective, it starts with seeing your reaction to something so small and insignificant as a particular method of facial movement. They say, “Oh my, what’s this? That big tree creature seems to move about and make bubbly noises when I do that. I shall have to remember this maneuver to see if the blurry lump repeats its behavior.”
That’s how it starts: little, cute, seemingly inconsequential. But in the short span of a few years you’ll end up like the other addicts, with a house full of unused toys, pets you hate, a sexless bedroom where the de facto topic of conversation is how cute your kid was that day, and an inane yet comprehensive understanding of the epistemological differences between Dora The Explorer and Handy Manny.
You are a brown and crackled picture of what used to be, sir. All due to addiction to your child’s happiness.
Your Only Recourse
It doesn’t have to be this way… but, of course, it does. There really is no protection, you cannot defend yourself. Those first infantile smiles seal your fate. Today it’s clapping and tender hugs for them, tomorrow it’s Kenny Chesney tickets, parrots, and borrowing the car… and all they have to do is bat their eyes and smile when you say “yes.”
In the grand scheme of things, if you put your life into the context of lightyears and galaxies, it’s taken your child virtually no time at all to turn you into the bane of the salon, the fashion-less chowderhead, the chubby yea-sayer.
And yet, there could be no other way. Godspeed.