Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Real Babymoon

You don't have to pick up too many pregnancy magazines to hear about a babymoon, a popular trend in which couples take a vacation together to celebrate their last months of independence before baby arrives. The concept has merit-- after all, the introduction of a new life changes the dynamic of a couple's relationship forever and expands their focus. Rather than exclusively focusing on meeting one another's needs, now there is another demand on their attention, one that is loud, messy, and exhausting. Taking a trip to savor one-on-one time isn't a bad idea, but like many other areas of pregnancy preparation, the idea of a babymoon has been blown out of proportion by the commercial machine. Lavish vacations to Europe, the Carribean, grace the pages of the magazines, advertising extravagant resorts or ritzy cruises. The indulgence is excused because it's an escape from the impending reality of parenting.

Now, I'm all for a romantic getaway. My husband and I did just that a couple weekends ago. To celebrate the small window of time that we have a weaned toddler and no nursing infant, we sent my daughter to her grandparent's for a night and headed down to the beach. Eighth floor view of the ocean. Private balcony. Whirlpool tub. Dinner at a restaurant fancy enough to require a new dress. It was great fun and a refreshing chance to just be merely husband and wife for an day. But it wasn't extravagant and it wasn't an attempt to forget the "harsh" reality of parenting.

Throughout my pregnancy, but particularly in these last few months before Baby M makes his or her debut, I've been thinking about another definition of babymoon. It would read something like this--- babymoon: a time of celebrating the relationship between you and your child before your attention is divided by a new baby.

See, my daughter Ember and I are buddies and we do everything together. Since she's only 2 and 1/2 that goes with the territory but it's not merely baby-wrangling that I'm talking about. She gets all of my attention--- whether it's playing in the soapsuds after we wash dishes, cuddling on the couch for an impromptu snuggle, reading stories before we take a nap together, playing tea in the bathtub. We take trips to the library, to the merry-go-round, to Target for pizza and breadsticks or Panera for hot chocolate and a muffin. Just the two of us. As much as I anticipate the arrival of the new baby, as much as I rejoice in the expansion of our family, part of me will miss these days of special togetherness. She's going to have to learn to share me and I'm going to have to learn to share myself, which shouldn't be too much of a problem as soon as I hold that little one in my arms and fall in baby love.

To savor these last few months of Mama-Ember time, I've declared us to be on babymoon. We're not going to Europe but we have gone to Starbucks on a Big Girl Date. We've gone to the beach to get sand. We do small crafts together or snuggle a little longer before bedtime. We read more stories. Little, tiny things that not only celebrate the time we've had as peas in a pod but also celebrate the change that's coming. I have to say that I've enjoyed this far more than I would some break-the-bank trip meant to escape from parenting. My babymoon is a time of small, simple celebrations of the sweeter side of parenting, praising God for the daughter He's given me even as I make room in my heart-- and my lap-- for the child yet on its way.

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