By Joanna Eng of joannameng.com
Getting your baby dressed is an athletic activity, so keep your sweatpants on for now. Place her on the floor of her room and rummage around for the one outfit that isn’t crusty around the neck, stained, too long, too short, or clashing.
Warn your moving target that you are about to lasso her with a shirt and then go for it in one swift motion, over the head. She’ll probably protest, but as you start to wriggle one of her arms into a sleeve, she’ll get what’s happening. She may even decide to participate at this point by holding her other arm up for you to put in the other sleeve, making you swell with pride.
But as soon as the top of the shirt is on, she’ll tear away to check out something that’s across the room. Chase her on your hands and knees, and after a few minutes, you’ll manage to get at least two of the three snaps buttoned to keep the shirt in place.
Then stand her up against her crib to put her pants on. Lift up her legs one at a time and quickly stuff them into the pant legs while she wobbles. By this time she’s lost interest in standing, so gather her onto your lap and attempt to pull the pants up over her butt, requiring you to lean back into the most intensive of the core exercises you learned in pilates class years ago.
Thank the Lord that she’s already got socks on. Let her loose again.
Consider bringing her into your bedroom while you change, but decide that keeping her away from your shoe rack and the lamp and the dust-bunny-filled corner will be too much effort. Take off your breakfast-stained sweatshirt and throw it on the floor in front of her. While she’s busy waving that around, sprint down the hall to your room.
Whip off your sweatpants and pull on your least dirty jeans. As you start to get the second leg in, you’ll hear her little hands pounding towards you. Peek out the doorway and see her shadow bobbing into the un-baby-proofed hallway. Zip and button your jeans, grab the rest of your clothes, and rush back to her room.
Take off your shirt and toss it in her direction to intercept her path toward the bucket that you once used for dirty diapers—the cloth ones you gave up on months ago. You’d move the bucket, but you’ve been using it to block her access to the power cord for the baby monitor camera.
Stretch your clean shirt on, scoop her up right before she starts opening the dresser drawers, and glance in the bathroom mirror for one second to make sure there aren’t any super noticeable pieces of food or dirt smack in the middle of your face.
Now set her down on the floor near her car seat while you try to determine what combination of coat/carrier/stroller you need to get her from the car into the library considering today’s forecast—probably all of them, just in case.
Put her hat on, then wrench her shoes from her hands so you can put them on. In the brightest voice possible, tell her what a fun program you’ll be going to at the library! And how there will be other kids! And songs! And stories! And a place to crawl around! But how first you have to get in the car so you can drive there!
Hand her an enticing toy, and start to place her in the car seat. Before her butt even touches the seat, she’ll arch her back, throw her head back, and scream. After a few tries you’ll realize it’s impossible to wrangle her stubborn, stiffened, and suddenly incredibly strong body into the curve of the car seat.
Give her a bunch of kisses, then sing the na-na-na-na, na-na-na portion of “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” while wagging your head, which usually makes her laugh, and try again. Nope. Still arching her body in the exact opposite shape of the car seat.
Dole out some nose beeps, and bounce with her in front of the hallway mirror. She’ll stop screaming and crack a smile right away. Quickly give the car seat another shot. Still not a chance—you can’t get her to comply without serious risk of injury to you both.
Finally give in and dig out the push-button, flashy, plastic, loud-noise-making toy that goes against every single one of your parenting principles. She’s mesmerized, and this time goes in without a fight.
Now you can take a breath and put on your own coat and shoes. Find your drool-covered hand lotion buried in a pile of blocks on the playroom rug, turn your back to her so she won’t learn how to open the bottle, and do your best to moisturize your desert-canyon-like hands that have been cleaning things and people all day every day for the past ten months.
Sling the diaper bag over one shoulder and pin the baby carrier under that arm, then hoist up all 40 pounds of baby plus car seat in the other. Open the door and place her on the front stoop while you get the stroller and keys. Balance the stroller at the bottom of the stairs, come back up to lock the front door, haul her down to the car, then drag the stroller to the trunk.
Congratulations, you’re officially out the door! Now aren’t you in the mood to awkwardly sing along to some nursery rhymes with other adults while the babies slither all over the floor, oblivious?
Arrive at the library parking lot at the exact time the program is scheduled to start. Yes! You’re really doing it today! Maybe you’ll even make a new parent friend!
Open the back door and find your baby in a deep sleep. You thought it seemed quiet back here. If she doesn’t wake up after you open and close the doors a couple of times, figure that she actually needs the rest, even though it’s an hour before her predicted nap time.
Get back in the car and crack open the sci-fi novel and adult snacks that you keep in the diaper bag for this purpose. This still counts as leaving the house today, right?
About the Author
Joanna Eng is a freelance writer and editor who is currently also a stay-at-home parent. She is a 2017 Lambda Literary Fellow and enjoys writing fiction and nonfiction for all ages. She lives with her wife and child in the New York City area, where she is constantly seeking out slivers of nature. You can follow her on Twitter @joannamengland and see more of her work at joannameng.com.