I have long joked that I was promoted to my level of incompetence when we had our second child. I love babies, love my two daughters, loved every moment of the nursing and cuddling, and at the same time, for now, my love of babies is at its best when it is vicarious.
This weekend at the zoo with our friends was no exception. We saw a two baby elephants, a baby sea lion, baby beavers, 3 fawns, and a young penguin (full-size but with fluffy plumage). Also, we were there with a charming 2 year old and his parents, long-time friends who were among the first to hold Emily as a newborn, nearly 10 years ago. (Erika, now the mom of the aforementioned toddler, actually declined to hold Emily out of fear at the time, as she looked so new and fragile)
With the exception of the rather scruffy, absurd-looking (teenage) macaroni penguin, all the young animals we saw were Awwww-inspiring and adorable. I would have loved to pet them, but even the orphaned deer in the petting area were out of reach. Meanwhile, Emily and Hazel were not only admiring the animals but competing over the attentions of our young guest "I got 8 hugs from Connor!" followed shortly by "I got 9 kisses!" or "He laid down in *my* lap!" The poor boy hardly got through a diaper change without being handled, though I confess even I managed to wrangle out a hug and a kiss before he left.
At our house, no babies are resident anymore. Hazel is now a slim schoolgirl, even the baby-belly gone. But still, I manage to sneak in some kisses and hugs, and we have some snuggle time for everyone curled up with books at night. For me, this is enough, and come morning I'm glad to see them off to camp or play, laughing and happy to be in their own world, knowing I'm here and ready when they need a retreat.