Tuesday, July 05, 2005

It takes a village of mojo...

Have you noticed that some people have baby mojo and some do not? By baby mojo, I mean the ability to get babies to laugh/calm down/go to sleep/remain coherent long enough for mommy to swipe her credit card at the grocery store...yes, it seems, some people have it and some do not. I, unfortunately, do not. Oh, I can calm down my own child passably well, sure, and a couple of times, I've gotten lucky and a kid will laugh at a funny face I make in the grocery store, but for the most part, nope--no mojo. I tried to calm down my friend Beth's twins one day and ended up making them cry even harder. I was working in the nursery at my husband's church and took a child in order to spell the woman who'd been holding him and he instantly melted down. I evidently am the AntiMojo.

So, thanks God (as my Polish students often said) that I have so many mojo-heavy people around me. My mother, God be good to her, has always had much mojo and apparently got a bonus when she became a grandmother. My husband, too, is muy mojo-rific. I was gone all day today and my husband was in charge (obviously; like who else would be in charge--the kitties? Opposable thumbs are fairly necessary for child care.) and the child, whose unwillingness to nap has been documented elsewhere in this blog, took two naps--one was 2 1/2 hours. My man (ooh, ick, that sounds like we're in a Levitra ad) has since been crowned The Naptastic One.

I even know people who even have baby gift mojo--I mean, there are the presents so perfect that even a bonehead like me can see they'll come in handy--the baby spoons, endless cute outfits, bibs, onesies. And then there are the heartbreakingly sweet gifts like the handmade baby book and the quilt my nana made for my sister. But true babygift mojo is like a sixth sense-my friend Ellen found these little critters-- a dog and a sea monster--that are made by the Sassy company, and I honestly remember looking at them and thinking "how sweet, but ahhhh, no, he won't like these" and, yes, you guessed it, they are now my son's absolute favorite items to slob on, aside from inappropriate things like grocery lists ("well, apparently we need some red pleagh, whatever that means"), pages from glossy magazines, and our living room carpet (does cat fur count as a major source of fiber?). I have personally done the grocery-store baby toy dance when we thought for a horrifying moment that Sassydog had disappeared.

But babymojo still eludes me, even with my own kid. Oh sure, I can still whip out a boob when I think my status is threatened, but when Davis stuck out his tongue for the first time, it was for my friend Laurie. When he first laughed, it was at my husband. First time rolling over on his own? Not for me! He did it for my mother instead. And now the new forays into being naptized (in the name of the crib, the pacifier, and the holy swaddle) by my husand!

Am I jealous? Sure! But am I confused as to why? Not a bit. I know these folks all have found the magic mojo, and I'll tell you why: it's because they aren't worried or afraid of what will happen if they lose their mojo. I on the other hand (as you might have noticed) tend to be something of a worrywart who has not seen a molehill that couldn't be made into a mountain with the right amount of fretting and unsubstantiated anxiety. I don't know where this came from; I've become, over the years, quite philosophical about my own path; I say--and actually believe--that the right job will be looking for me, just as I'm looking for it, and that I will be able to do whatever I need to do to make the dissertation happen. Even when we seem dangerously low on funds, I don't panic, reasoning that the good Lord didn't bring me this far just to drop me on my head now. But for some reason, when it's my kiddo on the line, I feel like God has made me head coach and we're shy a couple of touchdowns in the third quarter.

Deep down, I know this isn't true. I mean, why believe in a Supreme Being if It isn't smart enough to know someone like me shouldn't be running the show, right? What kind of lousy fire-sale God would think that was a good plan? It's probably a huge act of arrogance to believe I'm anything more than a glorified babysitter for this wonderful boy, but that's the beauty of insecurity, isn't it? You believe that you suck so much that you're all anyone can think about (or, as Operating Instructions would have it, you're "the piece of sh*t around which the world revolves").

So maybe I should give myself a break. And start enjoying the fact that my kid is secure enough to let other people work their mojo on him. And maybe, just maybe, I'll stop scaring little kids in the supermarket by trying out my tricks from Charming an Infant 101. Or if I do insist on practicing my skills, let's hope it's more about actually cheering them up and less about putting another notch on my baby mojo burp cloth.