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The Unnoticed Baby Stage That Makes Parenting Way Easier

Photograph by Twenty20

My son has been very interested lately in how he was made. I keep my answers pretty simple and tell him he grew in my belly and, because he pushes for a deeper history, that before my belly, he lived in my mind.

His babysitter recently shared with me stories he's told her about his adventures while living in my mind— most inventively, how he used to look out my eyes to see where we were going and reach his hands out of my mouth while I was sleeping.

He wants to know the specifics of the process.

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"When you made me, what was the hardest part?" he asks. "My hair. I bet my hair was really hard to make."

It's a recurring conversation. The other day I was helping him dress after a swimming lesson, and he said, "When you make a baby, you should really start with the feet, because otherwise they can't stand up."

I've been realizing lately that we have turned a corner at home, because two of our three children seem almost overnight to be more independent. They can dress themselves, feed themselves, speak up for themselves, play for periods of time alone in their rooms. It's hard to imagine how they each arrived in our lives able to do virtually nothing on their own.

Until this magical phase, you're pretty much trapped.

After my son's swimming lessons, which are on Friday nights, we usually go for dinner together. As we sat in a restaurant the other evening, there were two women sitting nearby, one of whom had a newborn. Just over five years ago, I thought to myself, that was me, in the same restaurant, holding my newborn son and trying to eat with one hand.

I love to hold a new baby. But we've all had the experience of holding one when it's not particularly convenient to be without free arms and both hands, and with no possibility of putting the baby down. There is nothing, except perhaps mittens, quite as restricting as a newborn in your arms. And when I consider how far my children have come, I realize that nothing felt as game-changing as when they learned to sit up by themselves.

Until this magical phase, you're pretty much trapped.

So I think my son is on to something. If I ever have another baby, which I will not, I will certainly consider making the feet first.

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