Having a baby changes your life. Everyone knows that, but then it happens to you and you know it know it. I’m still the same person, but I am more. And also less. And also different. Okay, there are layers to this thing that I haven’t yet figured out, but that’s what blogs are for, yes?
So a year + in, I thought I’d do the list thing. Here are a few changes I’ve noticed in myself, especially over the last month (wherein the hubs was gone and I was parenting solo, albeit with monster help from the grands).
1. I am a human garbage disposal. Growing up, this was my dad’s job, but I have taken on the task and I am very good at it, if I do say so myself. I will finish a half-eaten pear while eating noodles with my hands. I am cookie monster without the puppet metabolism (unfortunately). See also: eating weird things at weird times in weird places. Yesterday, lunch was half an avocado straight from the skin alternating with cold bean salad while standing up in my kitchen. At 2:30pm. I am not ashamed.
2. Accomplishing little things (showering, going to the park, cleaning) make me feel like superwoman. When you’re alone with a kid, your hands, hips, thoughts are very much occupied. This makes doing little things difficult.
3. I am the planniest planner in plantown. 80% of my time is now spent planning ahead so that I’m not stressed in the moment. I have not yet thought about how stressed the planning makes me and I’M NOT GOING TO SO SHUT UP. I should say the planning is all for the kid. No, I should say the planning is all for the people who I’m forcing to be around my kid. As we venture further and further from home (first flight/big trip completed recently – yay, superwoman [and supergram and supergrandad]!), I want to do everything I can to make sure my kid doesn’t screw up other people’s day. I know he will, but it makes me feel better that I tried.
4. I am superstitious despite myself. If we had a bad night, I’m not going to re-use PJs, even if they are perfectly fine. Sometimes I will even change the sheets, just in case something on them/in them was bothering him. Unlike my lunchtime habits, I am definitely ashamed of this. I think it will get better as Mixo communicates more, but for now, trying to figure him out is like running through a pig farm blindfolded. So I do the dance, sing the song, and cross my fingers that it all works out okay. Superstition lady comes out mainly when it comes to…
5. Sleep. I now understand the value and beauty of sleep. When we make it through a full night, I am elated. When we don’t, I hate everything and everyone. The highs and lows come fast and hard when you’re a parent.
6. I now know exactly how lucky I am to have the partner that I have. If people actually have kids to keep a marriage together, they are insane people. I’m hoping this is just a pop culture trope and it doesn’t happen in real life, but I fear it does. Kids will test the hell out of a marriage.
7. I’m less afraid to speak my mind and I’m more sure of what I want. It’s Mixon-specific, unfortunately, and still a work in progress, but when someone’s doing something that doesn’t work for me, I stop it. I love tips and advice, and I will listen to anything, but I’m less afraid to hurt someone’s feelings by giving them a definitive no. ‘Less’ is the operative word here. As I said, this one is still in-progress.
8. I spend my life talking and singing. My. Entire. Life.
9. I don’t care what other people think (as much). There’s a fine line on this one. Planner lady in #3 of this list does her work so that I don’t have to worry about it in the moment. I want Mixon to experience the world, to explore it. And as long as he doesn’t put his banana hands all over a stranger’s pants (that has happened) or pull on someone else’s boobs or arm/neck fat (this has so far been reserved for me), I’m okay if he talks loudly or walks around, as long as it’s somewhere where that doesn’t ruin someone else’s experience. Some people don’t care about kids, I get it, and #3 lady is doing what she can to make sure you’re ok. But at some point, you gotta let go and realize babies be crazy. We all have to live in the world, Mixon included.
10. I notice things more. It is impossible not to be observant with a baby around. When your kid is pointing to everything and making a ‘huh’ noise, you name it, and that forces you to notice the little things. Most of the time, it’s a chair or a boot, but other times, it’s the way snow is crunching under your feet or how it feels to bite into an apple. It’s literally a new perspective on life, as in never-before-experienced. And I get to witness it. Pretty cool. (Also a very nice bonus for my career as a writer.)
There’s more, there’s always going to be more. And it’s not all good. This is a list focused on the good, because that’s where I like to live, but kids are rough, and babies are rougher. You can’t communicate, they can’t communicate, and everybody is exhausted. That’s why they make them so adorable.
Adorable only goes so far, though. The best thing about being a parent, the thing I try to remember when everybody is sobbing, is that we get to watch them turn into people. Hopefully kind, funny, amazing people. That’s pretty much why I had a kid, and the process is exactly as awesome as I thought it would be.
People kept saying it to us. You’ll find a norm, you’ll get comfortable, and then – bam – something happens. Teething, sickness, apocalyptic thunderstorms, a change in the star-moon alliance gridzone of astrology… Something changes and your nights are not your nights. Your baby is no longer your baby.
Mixon’s First Big Sick could have been much bigger and badder. It was a simple fever, no other symptoms, but because this was our first fever and because we couldn’t see our pediatrician the first time, we ended up at the doctor’s office twice. Both visits were a very necessary complete waste of time.
I know calling a fever a ‘big sick’ is hilarious to most of you, but we’ve had really good luck with Mix. He’s had two colds. Period. In his life. That’s mostly because we were all hermits for the first three months and didn’t really branch out a whole lot until recently. So for him (and for us), this was big.
He’s all better now and making up for the food he didn’t eat when he was sick (seriously, I need to get a funnel and just pour). We were lucky we still had formula to waste and at least a bit of milk still in the boob, because that’s basically what he lived on.
And now comes the process of getting back to that magic-eye mindset, where things just work themselves out. Last Blog Post Amanda was such a douche…
Now, I have a baby who’s past one and still on formula and a tiny bit of boob, one who wakes up at least once a night wanting more of said formula or boob, and one nightmare of an evening that I’m having trouble getting out of my head.
This is compounded by the fact that hubs has been working a lot and will be gone the entire month of November. I will say again how much I do not know how single parents do it. There are some days when a few hours will make me want to curl up in a ball and leave the childcare to the dog and cats. The dread is building for me, the guilt is building for him, and the ‘la, la, las’ are sometimes not there when they need to be.
All I can say is that the hubs and I are ridiculously lucky to have our parents so much in the picture. Their worry barometer may be overly high, but that’s only because they would reach into their chests and pull out their hearts if it would help make the Mix feel better. I should have known it would be this way – the same goes for their own kids.
I know there are harder times to come, bigger sicks, and just little annoying ones that throw everything off. And then the return to normalcy will be another Sisyphean climb up a steep mountain. But at least we’re doing it with some pretty cool people.