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National Editorials & Columns

Having a baby can make parents look like college students

My 8-month-old is a terrible gift giver. I don’t mean to embarrass him on his first try at this whole Mother’s Day thing, but really, I expected better.

I’m not unreasonable. It’s not as if I thought he’d jump online like those freakishly gifted E-Trade babies and hit me up with something from (mostly because I would hope my baby knows he could get better deals on But this was my first Mother’s Day, and a little thought would have been appreciated.

Instead, my 8-month-old gave me the world’s worst Mother’s Day gift: He started crawling — well, belly shuffling. He looks like a just-hatched sea turtle trying to make his way into the ocean waves before becoming sea gull dessert. And, similar to a shuffling baby sea turtle at Sea Gull Cove, this is my nightmare.

My house is not ready! I know, I know; I have had months to prepare for this day. So sue me. My energy is still depleted from finally getting the kid to sleep through the night. When was I supposed to find time to take up the marathon training required to keep pace with a crawling infant? I haven’t covered up all my electrical sockets yet. Or reviewed my baby CPR. Or taken up gymnastics.

How will I save him from swallowing that perfectly sized throat-lodging, airway-hindering poker chip if I pull a muscle while attempting a 360-degree handspring vault over the couch my kid is hiding behind?

You think McKayla Maroney is not impressed? Look at my face in the pediatric wing of the ER.

When I saw my baby crawl for the first time, I did what any parent would do. I grabbed the camera and cruelly plopped myself down 10 feet away from my needy, separation anxiety-plagued baby in order to coerce him into crawling again. Then, once I had documented evidence, I got to baby-proofing. I began by lying on the ground, eye level with my now mobile child, to see the world from his perspective. It was horrifying.

I often have heard that babies are like drunk college students. They are both slaves to the bottle. Wet their pants. Cry when they don’t get what they want. Have an affinity for taking off their clothes. And will do anything to see a boob. No one ever mentions that having a baby makes the parents look like drunk college students.

From my infant’s-eye view, I am an immature teenager. Never mind the nice assortment of couch pillows and the expensive vase candle on my side table. My son can’t see those from the carpet. What he can see are the scented markers, money, tarot cards and fortune cookie fortunes that have been hiding under the couch and table for who knows how long.

Never mind the collection of art house films in my DVD case. The Blu-ray Discs that my baby got his grubby fingers on were “American Pie,” “Borat” and “Clerks.”

Looking from the ground up, my nice liquor shelf just looks like a mountain of booze, ready for an infant-crushing avalanche. The bottom shelf is lined with chewy little shot glasses. Oh, so many shot glasses. From Hawaii. From bachelorette parties. From places I’m fairly certain I don’t want documented that I’ve ever visited.

And on the lowest shelf in my TV console, viewable and accessible only to prying baby fingers, were strangulation cords, known as jump ropes, next to board games boasting such classy names as “150 Drinking Games” and “I’ve Never...”

I swear, above knee level, my house basks in simple earth tones and proudly displays art from around the world. But at baby level, it’s a minefield born from the combined imaginations of Pee-wee Herman and Beavis and Butt-Head.

Upon this discovery, I spent hours trying to decipher what may stay and what must go in the deathtrap I call home. It felt as if everything in my house was out to murder my child.

I rambled on and on to my husband about the furniture we had to get rid of, the extra cushioning we had to cover every corner with. And by the time I was done giving the layout of our new baby-proofed house, it had a striking resemblance to a padded room in an insane asylum.

How do you say psychiatric ward in Swedish? I want to pitch this design to Ikea.

Thanks for the relaxing Mother’s Day, kiddo.

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