A few months ago, in an attempt to reclaim some very precious space in our small house, I gathered up a bunch of baby toys that the kids had outgrown and threw them in a trash bag. I put them in Jelly’s closet, planning to donate them when I had a few more things to bring.
This weekend I sorted through a couple of drawers and now have enough to bring to the donation station. I got out the bag of baby toys and put it by the door to the garage so I would remember to bring it out to my car.
Not surprisingly, Moe found the bag and started rifling through it. He pulled out a rattle, and a feeling hit me like a shot.
When Moe was born, I was clueless. I had no idea how to care for, let alone entertain, a baby. I had registered for a few toys and got some things at my baby shower but when Moe was 3 or 4 months old, I realized I needed more. I loaded Moe into the car and headed to Babies R Us.
And that is when I found what call “the section.” Toys for little babies. Teethers, rattles, high chair toys, car seat toys. Everything I needed was right there. And there were other new moms there too. I remember I chatted with one mom and found out our kids were born on the exact same day. I bought a rattle. It’s nothing special but Moe liked it.
I remember exactly what I felt like on that day. I was happy to be out and about, finally getting my bearings as a new mom, learning how to navigate the day to day. I was still apprehensive about it all, coping with the sudden change in identity that comes with being a new parent. It was scary and exhilarating, sometimes lonely, but often joyful.
Some people measure time “before kids” and “after kids.” I do that, of course. But I also think of “before autism”, and after. Sometimes I’ll see something, like some of Moe’s clothes that I’ve saved for Jelly to wear, or a toy I remember him playing with as a little baby. Or Jelly will do something that Moe used to do – point to parts of her body or make animal sounds. And I get a terrible ache to go back and start over. Like somehow I could do something different. Change things. Set things back on the course I once thought was laid out in front of me, as clear as the array of baby toys on the shelves.