Tuesday, June 10, 2014

They Can Try...But They Won't Be Successful

I can't remember the exact quote (these kinds of things are gradually slipping from my mind as I make room for new memories of Ari), but towards the end of the movie, I Don't Know How She Does It, a new mom is in tears, realizing how much she loves her child, and yelling at a friend saying, "Why didn't you tell me it would be like this?"

There are things parents can tell you that make sense, even before you have children. Simple things like, "Your life will change" and "You won't be able to just jaunt out for dinner at 9 on a weeknight" (although, that second one? really not possible for those of us who have to get up at 5:45 every morning, regardless of whether or not we have kids).

Then there are the things that only make sense once you have a child.  My son is barely two, so I know that far more truths await discovery, but here's what I know so far...raise your hand if you're with me.

Four Things You Cannot Understand Until You are a Parent

1. Guilt. I was raised Catholic and I thought I understood guilt. Nope. There is no way to understand this type of guilt until you have a child staring up at you, begging you to read another book and you know that you're probably already just a smidge late for work.  When I was pregnant, I was under the impression that, although I would love my child, I would have no problem leaving him in daycare. After all, my mother left me in daycare. I had friends with their kids in daycare. No problem.  I would probably also have no problem leaving him with my wonderful husband so that I could go off and do the things that keep me sane.  No dice. If I do manage to not feel guilty about running off to do a track run or have a ladies' night out or, you know, work late because my contract says I have to, then I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. Did you get that last one? Because I certainly don't understand it.

2. Mom Brain.  They tell you it's pregnancy brain. "Oh, it's the hormones," they say. Sure, it may be hormones, why not? But it continues far past pregnancy. I'm two years in, and let me tell you, this constant feeling of, "I'm probably forgetting something really important, and it probably has to do with a friend who thinks I've disappeared since having a baby..." has only increased as my child's needs have become more complex.  So, if it's not pregnancy hormones, what is it? Never ever feeling fully rested and being responsible for the entire existence of another human being.  I have to keep all of this information about Ari in my head all at once - when he ate, what he ate, when he pooped, what books he likes best. Don't get me wrong, I love that I get to be Ari's mom, that I get to know these things about a tiny human, but knowing all of these things means that I sometimes lose grip on all of the other things, like finishing sentences or having a coherent adult conversation.  Also, I'm pretty sure I sat down at the computer to look up what time story time is tomorrow, and now I'm writing a blog post...not sure how that happened. And I still don't know what time story time is.

3. Sleep.  I love to sleep.  I possibly love sleep more than I love food, and that's saying something. Naps. Sleeping in on weekends.  Just getting into my bed at night.  I love it. All of it.  I knew that I would lose sleep upon becoming a parent, I know that I would be up in the night with my child.  Idiotically, I didn't realize how long I would be awake with an infant.  When Ari went through spells of waking up four or five times in a night, he would need my attention for, I don't know, 42 hours (if that math is wrong on that one, see #2), before being put back down in his crib. I also didn't realize, and am still having trouble processing, how narrow my band of window for sleep would be.  He sleeps from 8 to 6:30, or so.  I go to bed around 10, because I have things that need doing that cannot be done while he is awake (DO ALL THE THINGS that I used to do with all of my "free time" in two hours or so). There's t.v. to watch, photos to edit, conversations to have with my husband.  If I go to bed later than 10, I simply get less sleep.  Two years in, and this is finally starting to sink in. I thought being an adult meant not having a bed time but it actually means having to put myself to bed at a reasonable time.

4. Love. Yes, people without children can understand love (please don't hurt me). I am talking about what it means to have this all encompassing, total, never stops love. My kid is sleeping right now, and when I stop to think about him, all I can feel is love. I know there are moments when parents question their own sanity for deciding to have children - but this love I feel caught me off guard in its ability to occupy my entire being.  And it extends beyond loving my son and wanting everything to be good for him.  I love my husband more - and differently  - than before our son was born.  I love my parents and what they did to make sure I grew up healthy and happy.  I want to be a better teacher because I want my son to have good teachers. Every decision in my life revolves around my son now, and that's a kind of love I could not have understood before his arrival.

I'm sure there are more than four things, but I'm having trouble remembering them all right now.  But I did just remember about 76 other things I'm supposed to be doing right now, so, yeah...I'm going go do those...and look up story time.

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