Thursday, May 15, 2008

Beauty is in the eye of the Ba-by-holder

Brace yourself. I’m about to go where no decent woman and mother has gone before. I’m about to enter uncharted waters and put right out there in words what so many of us have thought in the past but never, ever quite had the guts to say.
Some babies are…ugly.
I make this bold statement because recently I’ve had to work extra hard to keep my personal resolution which is to never tell mothers how cute their babies are. Last week, I spent a morning with some friends and their babies, who are actually very cute, and I couldn’t help myself but to let a couple of “now that’s a cute kid” fly. But not all babies are so good looking, and I made a promise to myself years ago to never tell a mother just how adorable that bundle of joy was because, by chance the baby wasn’t so adorable, I would feel awful telling a lie.
It all started when I had my first child and, being desperate for adult conversation, immersed myself in a world of babies and their mother. Baby music, baby tumbling, baby playgroup (which was just an excuse to clean our houses and eat cookies.) And we would all dress our little ones to the nines in their corduroy jumpers and those strange little girly headbands that we put on our daughters so that they appear feminine even when bald, and ooh and ahh over how cute everyone else’s baby looked.
At first I did my best, despite the fact that some of those babes looked like their nose had come straight from Jimmy Durante or had ears that made you think the kid was going to take flight. But after a while, all of the lying was getting the best of me. My parents taught me to always tell the truth.
They also taught me that “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” So, since that fateful day when I smiled and awwwed at the flat-headed wrinkly baby with crossed eyes and nine chins, I put my foot down on all the going gaga over infants. Since then I have been known to make such comments as, “what a cute little outfit,” or “aren’t those stunning eyes!” But that’s been pretty much the extent of it until I broke down last week.
But I now know that whether I say anything or not, and whether I think a baby is unsightly (or if he or she really is) really doesn’t make a lick of difference in this world. For one, the ugly baby might one day grow into that nose and lose those chins and mature into a handsome person. Remember the fine story of the ugly duckling? Perfect example. Or it could just be that I have really bad taste in infant appearance, and wouldn’t know a good looking baby if it spit up on my shoulder.
Either way, it doesn’t matter what I think because it all comes back to a mama’s love. We love our own babies regardless what they look like because we love them for who they are – our children. We love their funny noses and lumpy heads. We love their thunder thighs and chicken legs. We love them no matter what. I can say this undeniably, because I have firsthand experience. Looking back on my own children (although I never put one of those girly headbands on them), all three were scrawny little things with round Polish heads. Little lollipops, they were, but I still thought they were absolutely beautiful. The way it should be.

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