The Bliss Of Oblivion (Day #36)

“You stink.”

The voice belongs to Husband. He and I are doing what new parents do best: we’re huddled over Lil Mil, just staring at her.

He’s no closer to her than I am. Yet, he smells her dirty diaper. The spit-up caked in her hair. Her milky breath.

I smell none of these things.

There are several possible explanations for my olfactory impairment:

Explanation #1: Lil Mil’s smells have become my smells. I can’t smell her because she smells like me. Which means I smell like baby poop, spit up and breastmilk.

I reject this explanation. (I am ignoring the fact that Husband has, on several occasions, announced that I “smell like baby.” I am also ignoring the dried spit-up in my hair, the presence of which I would be wholly unaware of were it not for the fact that I am beginning to sport spit-up infused dreds).

Explanation #2: Lil Mil’s smells are too subtle for the normal person to notice them. Husband is not a normal person.

I like this explanation and would wholeheartedly embrace it were it not for the fact that Lil Mil’s diaper is, in fact, dirty. Very dirty. And yes, that dried white stuff in her hair is, in fact, last night’s spit-up (“spit-up” being my all-purpose euphemism for any substance that projects from my child’s mouth. If we’re being honest, the stuff in her hair is straight-up vomit). In other words, as cute as she is, there is no way my daughter doesn’t stink.

Which brings me to Explanation #3: Lil Mil smells. I’m aware of it. But I’ve chosen – on a deeply subconscious level – to ignore it.

I want to reject this explanation, mostly because it requires me to acknowledge (A) that my baby smells and (B) that I’m letting her smell. (Before you become alarmed (Mom), I promise I am not letting my child sit around in a dirty diaper, her hair covered in vomit. What I can’t smell, I can certainly see. Eventually.)

But as much as I want to move on to Explanation #4 (Explanation #4: I actually do have some sort of olfactory impairment, the remedy to which involves elaborate and expensive aromatherapy treatments that can only be administered at Burke Williams), I’m stuck at #3. Because #3 fits. It fits the Lauren Miller Life Strategy, which isn’t so much a strategy as a character flaw that I like to pretend is a strategy.

I’m oblivious. Like, generally. As a rule.

I’m the girl that steps into the street without looking, that bumps into elderly people, that stops short on the sidewalk. And now that girl has become a mom who bumps people (and tables and chairs) with her carseat and rolls over toes (okay, whole feet) with her stroller.

Does my tendency toward oblivion mean I’m horribly self-absorbed? Too wrapped up in self to notice others? Of course, I want to say no. And I will say no, because this is my blog, and I can say whatever I want.

I’m pretty sure it’s the truth, though. Because I’m pretty sure my cluelessness is actually an attempt to avoid self-absorption.

Here’s the thing: I care what people think about me. I’m also fairly intuitive and pretty self-aware. Which means I can usually tell how I’m being perceived.

I’ve found that it is best to avoid this at all costs.

Hence, the Lauren Miller Life Strategy: be oblivious. Put blinders on. You can’t obsess over how you’re being perceived if you don’t notice how you’re being perceived. If you aren’t aware that your daughter needs a new diaper, you can’t worry that the barista at Starbucks thinks you’re a bad mom because you’ve decided to finish your latte instead of changing it. If you don’t see the guy at Trader Joe’s staring at the bright yellow baby poop on your pants, then you can’t be mortified that you left the house with BABY POOP ON YOUR PANTS (Oh yes. I did. Today. And yes, it’s still there).

You might not buy it. I doubt that Husband will buy it. But I happen to think I’m on to something here. I think that obliviousness can be (and often is) the sign of an I-matter-more-than-you mentality. But I also think that sometimes it’s a defense mechanism. An attempt – yes, perhaps misguided – to avoid obsessing over what other people think. Because believe me, without my blinders on, I would obsess. I do obsess. When I rammed those women with my stroller last week (jarring myself out of oblivion and into hyperawareness) I spent the rest of the afternoon doing just that.

It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t productive. It wasn’t all that enlightening, either.

And so, with apologies to those whose toes I won’t see and thus will crush with my stroller wheel, I choose the ignorant stink bliss of oblivion.

(Do you tend toward oblivion? Is obliviousness a trait reserved for the horribly self-involved? Do you think bloggers are, by nature, self-absorbed? For a thought-provoking discussion of our society’s collective narcissism, check out “Narcissism Misunderstood” on The Privilege of Parenting.)


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