I watched almost an entire infomercial this morning on a product called “My Baby Can Read” where all these tiny taters were, it appears, reading words printed on oversized flash cards. I was enthralled. And completely ready to slap down the 200 hundred bucks for the program. And no, I don’t have any children. But they are on my mind a lot lately. And having one that was nothing short of a genius certainly appeals to me. I want MY baby to read, hell yeah!
I am 37 years old and I think I am about to undertake the daunting task of motherhood. We are “trying” as many of our friends have announced to us over the years. My heart has always sunk a little at that proclamation – knowing that whatever relationship I had with the announcer would be forever altered, and feeling like another person was leaving me behind. The truth of the matter is that changes of that magnitude scare the crap out of me.
I don’t understand what makes parents of newborns laugh when they talk about sleeping for an hour and a half at a time, parents of four year olds regaling us with tales of being covered with their kid’s vomit at three in the morning, or parents with any kids under the age of 18 shrugging off their lack of sex life, their lack of social life, their lack of any sort of time for themselves.
Woo! This was an awesome, unfinished blog post to come across today, just the day after my 42nd birthday. What a difference four years makes.
I am now deep in the trenches of parenthood. My two year old is asleep right now, the almost eerily quiet house marking his absence. He got out of bed this morning at 5:30 which, thanks to daylight savings time, felt a whole lot more like 4:30 in the morning. I fed him his breakfast while blindly gulping down coffee, changed a putrid diaper, did a couple of loads of wash, took out the garbage and recycling, supervised some coloring, played trucks, wrestled him into his clothes, wiggled into mine while he hung on one limb or another, used the bathroom with an audience, brushed teeth – mine and his – and read the same three books five times each. This was all before 9am when his sitter arrived to start another week. We’re hoping for one a little less strenuous than last, that included several middle of the night wake ups, a 103.4 fever and some vomiting. I normally don’t divulge such details to anyone other than other mothers of toddlers or my husband, but I am here to illustrate a point. Can I laugh about all of this and assure you that I am happier than I have ever been? Absolutely.
It is IMPOSSIBLE to explain this to people who don’t have kids. I know, it sounds horrible. I obviously felt the same way before I had my own – I wrote it way up there on the top of this very page. I was scared to death, and rightfully so, because there was no way for me to understand the one thing that keeps all of the shit – literally and figuratively – from making you miserable.
Do you remember in The Velveteen Rabbit when the rabbit asks the skin horse if being real hurts? And the skin-horse, who was always honest, says yes, it sometimes does. But, he adds, by the time you’re real you don’t mind being hurt.
And so it is with parenting. It is such an incredible blessing to be around a person for whom everything is brand new. To watch this little person figure out the world is a heart-breakingly wonderful thing. It is so, so hard sometimes, but I doubt you could find someone who would trade their kid in for an easier life without them. Right up until the moment I met my son, I worried about all of the things I thought I would have to give up. And then, like a puff of smoke, that all vanished. I could have lived a very happy and fulfilled life without him, because I would never have known the difference. But now I do. And the love is so big and wide and deep that the bad parts really don’t hurt very much.
This is not to say that there are not minutes during a long day when I don’t let myself dwell in one or another negative thoughts on the subject, but it’s easier to shake that off now, because there is no time for dwelling and there is so much good stuff to concentrate on instead. And sure, some of my relationships have taken a bit of a lashing, but that’s not forever. It’s true what we were told when the baby was tiny and we were so exhausted – “enjoy every minute because it goes so fast.” I have to blink back the tears already when I look at photos from just a short year ago. It’s a bit of a cruel joke how fast it goes, so I really do try to savor this brief time.
It’s funny meeting that old me here today. I wish I could go back and tell her how worth “trying” is going to be. Oh, and that he still can’t read, but we’re not worried.