It's all true…
A friend once tried to communicate to me just how much having his kids changed his life. “You don’t realize the capacity you have for love, to love something, until you have this little person that you helped make, that is part of you, and you will just love it more than you ever thought you could love anything. Ever.”
My response was something like, “Whatever, homo. You’re so gay.” (Before someone has a fit, it was the language of the time, I’m just bein’ all like Mark Twain in Huck Finn and shit, settle down.) After all, we were drunk on hurricanes in New Orleans in the middle of the summer. I think they were called hurricanes, they were these huge slushy drinks. Regardless, we were drunk in some bar in New Orleans, and the last thing I was thinking about was having kids. Maybe I was thinking about making babies, but certainly not having kids.
Besides, I knew what he was saying. I’d had a kitten or two in my life. I understood loving something little and cute. I figured a baby can’t be much different, so long as it is as cute as a kitten. If it’s an ugly baby, well, you can’t love everything.
He wasn’t my first friend to preach the wonders of parenthood to me. A long time buddy would constantly throw “I can’t imagine my life without my son” at me. “I don’t know how I got by without him.” Really? You can’t imagine how you got by without the financial and emotional burden of a screaming, slobbering, shitting, soul-crushing bundle of life-ruining responsibility? REALLY? Have you been struck retarded?
Regardless of my brainwashed buddies, I knew I wasn’t ready to have kids. “You’re never really ready…” they’d say. “…if you wait until you’re ready, you’ll never have one.” Okie-dokie, sounds like a plan. “But when it does happen, ready or not, you’ll adjust.”
Actually, everyone is right. Just about everything you hear from people about having kids, raising them, loving them–it’s all true, in one way or another. Maddeningly true. And you go from the denying, from the disbelief, from the apathy of being a single human being only needing to look after yourself, to a doe-eyed, dedicated “parent” in AN INSTANT. Just that quick. POOF, brainwashed.
And now, I am the one telling my childless friends how good it is. How much you will love them unconditionally, how much fun they are, how they enrich your lives by slowly learning to become little yous, or at least, half-yous, and half the other person involved in the humping. Yes, you will sacrifice some of the things that are important to you, like hobbies, or socializing, or, most definitely, sleep. But you won’t do it out of resentment or anger. You’ll do it because THEY need you to, and you won’t even miss it. Well, not as much as you think you will.
As of today, I am ten days shy of being one year into my time as a “parent“. My little girl, Fiona, will be a year old on June 11. It was a frustrating, frightening, and incredibly fulfilling year. At first things were slow, and all she did was sit there and eat, drool, or poop (sometimes all at once). Around four or five months, the real development began, and every day was something new- a new behavior or gesture, new babbling that we can pretend are words, new actions like rolling over, crawling, and as of about a month ago, walking. Every little milestone just fills me up with pride, love, and even more devotion to this little person that is half (some days a little more than half) me.
Even the not-so-great things she does are pretty awesome. For a while, she had a habit of punching people in the face and yelling “OW!”. While I thought this was pretty funny the first few times, we had to break her of that. Luckily, she has discovered pinching to replace it.
She chases the poor cats and the dog around the house all day yelling “cat” or “dog” at them.
She tosses her toys out of the playpen when she wants to be taken out.
She’ll stop doing something when you tell her to, only to return to it when she thinks you aren’t looking.
She “shares” her food with the dog when she has decided she’d done eating (the dog loves that).
The other day, she threw a tantrum and staged a sit-in at the new baby gates we installed to keep her out of the kitchen, hanging on them, trying to climb over them, and throwing books across them to get our attention.
One of the first things she learned to say was a mumbled version of “What’s that?”, and all day long, at home or at day care, she is pointing at random things and going “What’s that?’
She feeds herself, little things, like goldfish crackers, or veggies or cut up fruit, and recently started using a spoon. She is a very messy eater, that drives me up a wall! My wife says it is just because she’s a baby, but I see no reason she can’t be a clean baby.
While many of these behaviors might not be ideal, I love seeing how her little mind works. She is pretty good at figuring things out, she’s very willful, and is fiercely independent (for a less-than-one-year-old, anyway).
Plus, I have fun indoctrinating her into my own nerdy world…
This summer is really her first summer. Last year she wasn’t exactly cognizant of her surroundings. This year, she is far more aware, and everything is a completely new experience for her. Her first time eating ice cream, first time in a swimming pool, first time running across a freshly mowed lawn, first mosquito bite, first time seeing newly bloomed flowers, first time being out at dusk when the magic of the dancing lightning bugs begins, and the first time she sees all the other kids running around and playing outside in the summer sun. Each new experience just brings new understanding, ideas, and fun into her fertile little mind.
So, it’s all true. All those evil parental types trying to convince you to give up your wonderful freedom, they aren’t doing it because they want to bring you down. They are doing it to show you the love you may be missing.