Earlier this week I told Linda that I would be helping out at the Nature Center on Saturday, volunteering for their Christmas Bird Count (see yesterday’s post). She looked me square in the eye and stated, “You will be home by lunch. I need to get out of the house.” So, I cut my bird counting short, and yesterday afternoon, we put a warm Santa hat on Violet and had our first real outing as a family. It wasn’t a grand outing. We dropped off some donations at AmVets, picked up some groceries, went to a bookstore, and went out to eat (now, as I write it, it does seem like a lot). At the bookstore, I was fascinated by how many people stopped us or walked right up to admire Violet, while mothers with children only slightly older walked by unaccosted. At what age do babies stop being a celebrity? And it was odd to realize that from now on, any time spent in public with Violet will be a time where my attention is completely divided, split between paying attention to whatever it is I need or want to accomplish and making sure Violet is safe. And both of us found ourselves questioning whether we were taking Violet out too soon. She is still so small and it was so cold. We just couldn’t stop the, “Are we being selfish?” question from repeating in our minds. Dinner was a calmer affair. We went to our favorite restaurant, a vegan place in Darien Center (Can you believe it – in Darien Center?) called Minty Wellness. There was only one other couple dining, but we didn’t want to disturb anyone if Violet started crying, so we asked to sit outside the main dining area. We’ve gotten to know the owner, though, and when she saw us she insisted that we sit in the main area. She fawned over Violet, she was kind enough to find Linda a private space to breastfeed, and she asked to hold Violet when Linda came back to the table. So, for most of our meal, the owner went about her work with Violet on her hip while we ate and marveled at how beautiful our daughter looked. Most of our conversation was Linda telling me how tough it was trying to change Violet. Cleaning her off, dealing with the dirty diaper – how do people do it? And what happens when this kid starts to move around more? Right now, Violet is more a less a paperweight. She stays put while we get another washcloth or a diaper, but I imagine she’ll soon be more like a tennis ball, rolling to God knows where when left on her own. By the end of the meal, we were anxious to get back to the security of home. The new parent guilt and the stress were welling up. We ate dessert quickly, but damn it, we ate it. And it was good.