I’m participating in Laura Shovan’s daily poetry challenge this month. Each day someone posts a prompt around the theme “Water.” Yesterday’s prompt was for a How-to poem that included a reference to water. I considered a few ideas and one by one, rejected them. Then my mind, in that random way it has, flew back to one of my favorite memories–the first time my husband and I bathed our son, Connor.
It’s a memory that never fails to make me smile. I look back and see us standing by the kitchen sink, Connor in our arms. We were so earnest, so nervous, so determined to do it right.
I had a book. (Of course I had a book!) It was probably “What to Expect the First Year” or some such thing. I distinctly remember we had read and reread the section “Baby’s First Sponge Bath” in anticipation of this event. I’m pretty sure I’d even read it aloud. (If I remember correctly, my husband didn’t even roll his eyes. In fact, he may have been reading over my shoulder.)
Now the time was here. The counter was littered with the requisite items: bath towel, cotton pads, Q-tips, washcloth, baby soap, and whatever else was called for. I may have actually had a thermometer there to check the water temperature.
I look back at us in that long ago kitchen and feel such a huge affection for the two of us, so young with this beautiful new baby. Oh, how we already loved him. Oh, how much we wanted to do it all right.
I distinctly remember the book, open on the counter, and reading aloud step by step through the book as we bathed him. My husband, who was an RN, made no protest. We took turns holding, washing, soothing. We were starting from square one together. Doing the best we could.
How to Bathe Your Baby
read the appropriate section of the book–
once or twice.
(Okay, maybe three times.)
Gather required supplies.
Place them carefully on the counter.
(Do you have them all?)
Gently undress your baby
bit by bit.
Reveal small sections of his perfect skin.
Soothe his cries.
Marvel at his delicate fingers and
their gentle exploration of the air.
Press a kiss at the nape of his neck.
Smooth your hand over his head of dark hair.
Let your fingers linger.
Moisten the washcloth with warm water
Gently smooth it over his skin–
Learn the universe of his curves.
Follow the directions in the book–
step by careful step.
Handle him like fine china.
wrap him in a soft towel.
Cradle him between the two of you.
Keep working as a team.
Do the best you can.
©Molly Hogan, 2020 (draft)