Baby on My Shoulder

When you hold a baby over your shoulder, your shoulder aches. Even a 10-pound, 7-week-old baby is heavy, when you hold her over your shoulder.

When you hold a baby over your shoulder, you are instantly transported back 19 years to the last time you held a baby of your own over your shoulder, and for just a moment, this baby could be yours, and it is 19 years ago.

When you hold a baby over your shoulder, you worry about her spitting up formula on your work clothes.

When you hold a baby over your shoulder, you marvel at how familiar this baby feels after a couple of minutes–the way her head snuggles into the perfect spot where your shoulder meets your chest, the way you can tilt your head down toward where she is resting and snuggle her soft cheek against your own.

When you hold a baby over your shoulder, you say aloud to the only woman server on the lunch shift on this day, the one who happens to have a 10-month-old, “There is nothing quite like snuggling a baby beneath your chin, right?” And rather than agree with you, she simply says she misses having a baby this age, because her daughter is now too old to snuggle this way.

When you hold a baby over your shoulder, the lunch chef doesn’t know quite what to make of you, because you hold this baby so effortlessly, and he can’t imagine this image of you, ever.

When you hold a baby over your shoulder, you set up the dining room and lounge area with one hand, holding the baby over your shoulder with the other hand. Just like you used to do 19 years ago when you cleaned your house, answered the phone, typed on the computer, did just about everything, when you held a baby of your own over your shoulder.

When you hold a baby over your shoulder, she soon falls asleep, and you pat her back, and you move in a slower way throughout the restaurant as you set up for lunch. And you don’t worry at all that it all might not get done by the time you open, because you are holding a baby over your shoulder, and you know the guests will be delighted by this and not care that a chair or two is askew.

When you hold a baby over your shoulder, the baby’s mom does all the office work she has missed these past few months, the work she was so worried she would forget how to do, the work you are only too happy to turn back over to her, as you hold her baby over your shoulder.

When you hold a baby over your shoulder, you want to tell the baby’s mom to not sweat the tears and the colic, to enjoy this sweet baby, because it is all over so soon, as trite as that sounds. Because it is so true.

When you hold a baby over your shoulder, Monday morning goes by fast, and everything seems easier.

When you hold a baby over your shoulder, you wish you could hold onto her for just a few more hours. Maybe all day. Until you are so full of this baby and her scent and her cries and her random movements and her little toes and tiny fingers, that you are ready to stop missing your own babies as your life is filled with work and drama and so much more, now that your babies are grown.

When you hold a baby over your shoulder, you never want to put her down.







16 responses to “Baby on My Shoulder”

  1. L Avatar

    that was simply beautiful.

  2. Kim Ayres Avatar

    My baby still likes to snuggle into my shoulder. The fact that she’s almost 10 years old makes it tricky to walk around the room at the same time though…

  3. Jennifer Avatar

    Great. My mascara is running.

  4. JustMe Avatar


  5. JustMe Avatar

    Very touching. I’ve never been a parent. Babies are cute and all, until they start screeching non stop for hours. I am always glad to see a baby until it starts screaming or making unworldly bad smells. At that point I am mentally ticking off the minutes hoping the proud parents will take their bundle of joy home.

    I know this sounds bad, but I’ve been in line at the market and had a woman holding a baby over her shoulder the way you described and it simulateously managed to crap in its diaper and spit up all over at the same time. I had to walk away as the stench was over powering and I was myself in danger of losing the contents of my own stomach at that point. I felt sorry for the woman, but I will tell you based on tnat experience that I would not really want to think of someone walking around with a baby in restaurant preparing the tables and placings where I would be eating a meal.

    —Slightly off topic mini-rant—

    Almost as bad or worse though are the parents that bring their older (but not old enough) hooligans to restaurants and they are racing around screaming and playing hide and seek under everyone’s tables while people are trying to enjoy a nice meal. All this while the parents smile haplessly at you like “Isn’t my darling cute?” and don’t even pretend to make an effort to control their kids. . Everyone thinks their own kids are cute, but personally I find it annoying and not cute when people let their kids bother other people like this. I don’t blame the kids because they don’t know better, but kids too young for a real restaurant need to be taken to mcdonalds or kid restaurants until they learn proper behavior!

    ——end rant———-

    Yeah, I know I’m a meanie. Sorry!!

  6. Laura Avatar

    My husband & I found out recently that we are expecting our first & since then, I experience moments of great joy right alongside those of great panic. I have never been very maternal (I didn’t even babysit!) so to hear you be so wistful…

    I guess, I just mean to say thank you for that little bit of insight. It was simply written but quite lovely.

  7. maureen Avatar

    nothing like it in the whole world thanks for taking me back

  8. joeinvegas Avatar

    Oh – am I supposed to type that BIWX I see there? Sorry, guess I’ve been doing it all wrong.
    Interesting how different things pull people’s minds backward in time. Glad you could relive a few happy moments there, and hope more come.

  9. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    L–Thank you.

    Kim–You have such a beautiful daughter. Hug her again from me.

    Jennifer–Sorry. I have the luxury of letting my mascara run as I write–all alone in my apartment.

    Just Me–My God, you sound like every guest I talked to today about anything–they ranted and ranted, too. (And for the record, my servers set the tables, okay? Your tableware is safe in my place, after all.)

    Maureen–Welcome back. And you are so welcome.

    joeinvegas–Call me stupid on the BIWX thing. And yes, that was a fun few hours. So nice.

  10. Jenni Avatar

    see… that’s why I don’t wear mascara. =)

    so beautifully written, how lucky am I to have read it while holding my own little one over my shoulder. trite, but true, baby time doesn’t last nearly as long as it should.

    I can picture you with that little girl snuggled into your neck, and it makes me smile as you relish that feeling and it brings the tears as I picture you alone in your apartment.

    I know he’d be

  11. Jenni Avatar

    hey.. what happened.. I meant to say I know my little guy would be happy to provide more snuggling, should you find yourself in my neck of the woods! 😉

  12. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    Laura–Apologies, I didn’t mean to skip over your nice comment. Good luck to you.

    Jenni–I would love to see your cute baby (and great family) again! As for my alone time, no worries–it’s mostly good, sometimes lonely. This is a big change from when it used to be all lonely. And when I am writing, I need that alone time!

  13. Ali Avatar

    Beautiful post, RG.

  14. upset waitress Avatar

    RG that was NICE! I wish I had an ounce of your writing style. Jealous.

  15. Tim the Enchanter Avatar
    Tim the Enchanter

    Beautiful post, I had the same thoughts about my baby brother when he was that age.

  16. […] When you hold a baby over your shoulder, you never want to put him/her down.” –Restaurant Gal […]