It’s been a long time. Like a long time.
It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, or the desire to say it… more like by the time my day runs down, I don’t have the mental resources to be anything more than a receiver of mindless television plot lines and the occasional gluten free beer.
People told me-hell EVERYONE told me- that having a kid would change everything. Whether they were telling me with hearts in their eyes and a dreamy look on their faces about finding the greatest love of their lives, or arching an eyebrow in warning they all agreed that life as I was living it would be forever replaced by this new reality of parenting an infant.
“You will never sleep in again- at least until they are teenagers, then you’ll never get them out of bed!”
“You will never pee alone or take a shower without company!”
“Forget about having a neat house! Oh! And forget about making it out the door in clean clothes!”
“You will worry all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. About everything.”
And it’s not that I didn’t believe them. I did. In a tongue in cheek, “yeah raising kids must suck” kind of way. It is no joke that knowing something in your mind is a very different thing than knowing something by experience.
Even with all of those stories and warnings about the trials and pitfalls awaiting new parents, I was in no way prepared for how all of that would affect me personally. How crippling the exhaustion can become; how lonely the long days and interrupted nights would leave me feeling, or how sad I could feel about not being free to bathe myself, or make it out the door in clean clothes. It can begin to feel like all you can see are the things that have changed; the ways YOU have changed. You start to not recognize your life… and that’s exactly as it should be.
Think about it for a minute- I mean really try to think about how all you know has been replaced by something so much more complex, compelling and powerful than what you knew before. Settle into the beauty of the chaos of this incredible person being introduced to the world for the very first time under your watch. What an incredible privilege to have ringside seats to the blossoming of consciousness in another human being! It is going to be messy, loud, crazy and sometimes all-consuming. What you are doing is a bloody big deal. It’s okay to grieve the way life used to be- to feel lost and drifting , not having a clue what you are doing and holding on white-knuckled until bedtime every day.
But it is equally important and even more necessary to celebrate. You can let go of the perfect house, the right clothes, the social contracts. You are being given the chance to re-discover your joy, playfulness, natural rhythms and wonder all over again. You are being invited into the world of a young child- it’s a precious gift. The time will come soon when you can get free long enough to shave your legs or vacuum, and when it does, you’ll be thinking about these days when all you needed to do was to keep the tiny human clean, fed and entertained. You will miss the toys, and mud puddles and rock collecting way more than you miss the housework and to-do lists today.
Choose. Choose to embrace not knowing; choose to enjoy the cuddles and forget the way life used to work. Stop fighting how things ARE and wishing for how things WERE. See the blessings; be grateful. These years are short.