Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Raising Junior

When Ayla was a newborn, I thought she was Uncle Junior from the Sopranos.

Yes, really.

I don't expect you to understand. I can only tell you the truth. You see, when I gave birth to my first child, my hormones served me up a pretty wild cocktail. Some women get lovey-dream-unicorn potions. Some seem to get bliss in a bottle. I think mine must have had the hormonal equivalent of absinthe in it, because I was pretty sure my life was over, and that in my arms, all day long, I cradled and rocked and soothed Uncle Junior.

I was terrified to leave the house. Not because I was worried about germs. I was worried my baby would scream and people would stare at me and judge me and know I was a bad mother for having an infant that actually cried, and may even report me to social services, because that woman's baby was CRYING, for heaven's sake, and what kind of mother gave birth to a child that would actually CRY? Because you know what they say about babies: Crying in public one day, raising communist armies the next.

So I was spending most of my time sitting on a couch holding Ayla and watching tv and trying not to think about how I'd never be able to read a full magazine article again, let alone an actual book, and writing? Forget about it. That was a dream for people without uteri, clearly. So we were watching The Sopranos. A lot. Episodes back to back, three or four a night. I don't remember a lot about season one, but I do remember this: Uncle Junior was a tyrant. He ruled that family. He kept them all on a short leash, and they were obliged, nay, forced, to be at his beck and call. You did what he wanted, when he wanted it. If Uncle Junior wanted baked ziti at 4 a.m, you made it for him. If he wanted to throw it up all over you afterward, yet let him do that too. You didn't piss off Uncle Junior because he would throw a tantrum. Raise an almighty ruckus. And if he did, you might end up crying, feeling helpless, feeling out of control of your own life. You could find yourself curled into fetal position in an old Toyota on the New Jersey turnpike, rocking yourself and knowing that life as you knew it was over. Or standing in the dog food aisle at Target holding nursing pads and four boxes of Abuelita and trying to remember how you got here in the first place and whether or not you actually have a dog. He might deprive you of sleep, if you did not comply with his demands. Or, you know. Put a bullet in your brain pan.

Are you starting to see the connection? Little burrito-baby Ayla Beloved was ruling our lives surely as Uncle Junior ruled those Sopranos. That, my Green Fairy hormonal happy hour special, and Ayla's beautiful but scrunched, wrinkled, wizened little face, were all causing me to gaze down into the eyes of my nursing baby and become convinced that I was, in fact, nursing Junior Soprano.

(Note to those of you considering having babies: Newborns make you so deliriously tired that you may actually hallucinate you have birthed an 80 year old,bespectacled, cranky mob boss. Or maybe these days, you will think you're nursing Naveem from Lost or Admiral Adama from BSG or Tracy Morgan. Just know you are not alone.)

Ayla no longer reminds me of--or appears to actually be--Uncle Junior. I mean, sure, yesterday she did demand I drive her to her favorite Italian bakery for cannolis and on the way there arranged a hit on Brobee, that monstrous green thing from Yo Gabba Gabba that she hates, but what kid doesn't want to see Brobee get what's coming to him?

No, friends. Ayla cut her own bangs on Sunday. As soon as I find my hook-the-camera-to-the-computer cord, you will see pictures. But for now, you'll have to satisfy yourself with this knowlege.

These days, she reminds me of Amelie.


  1. "but what kid doesn't want to see Brobee get what's coming to him?"


  2. And Amelie is adorable, no?
    I think almost every mother experiences that "daughter cutting the bangs" thing. I don't know how I managed to escape it--especially with a daughter who grew up to be a hairdresser!!!


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