Tuesday, January 24, 2012

That was Then... This is Now

No, I am not referring to the S.E. Hinton novel (cousin Jewels, that's a little shout out to you). Rather,  I am talking about just how much life changes when you become a parent. 

You see, Mike and I were joking with William the other night that we would be returning him to the baby store as we were dissatisfied with our purchase and Mike said, "we could take Elizabeth back too!"  I followed that with, "we could take a vacation," he topped with "we could take a cruise!" and I nearly shouted in temporary delirious excitement "we could go back to IRELAND!!".  And suddenly... it hit me.  Life is SO different now.  Everything has taken on another meaning.  The world looks different.  Children change EVERYTHING.  The thought followed me around today as I giggled to myself about how something like the phrase "all nighter" has changed with age and parenthood.  Then I began to make myself a list of all of those changes. 

Parents... enjoy. 

Then: this is staying up all night to write a paper you waited til the laaaaaast minute to write, partying all night or staying up all night just to see the sun rise.
Now: this is because your colicky baby LITERALLY does not sleep all night, staying up with a child who is vomiting every 15 minutes ALL through the night, or being the kind of insane parent who sews, knits or builds some special project for your kid and seriously underestimating how long it will take to finish

Then: This is having consumed too much of a mind or mood alternating substance either legal or illegal in nature.
Now: This is trying to put the milk away in the laundry room, trying to start your car with toy keys, wearing two different shoes all day without realizing it, making up words to the Curious George book you're reading because your vision is blurred from exhaustion, handing your husband a sippy cup and your daughter a pilsner glass, or laughing hysterically when your kid swears not because it's funny, but because you're too tired to do something else.  No substance required, the lack of quality sleep does the trick.

Then: This is the phrase you list on your resume because you've juggled a multi-line phone with filing, handled a high pressure job that involves dealing with the public in the worst of circumstances, etc.
Now: This is squatting down and balancing a nursing child in one arm and helping a potty-training toddler with the other hand to sit on the potty, wipe, flush, dress and wash hands.  This is fashioning a device out of your nursing bra and stretchy shirt to hold a pump in place so you can pump breast milk, make dinner, hold a baby and do a puzzle with your 3 year old at the same time.  This is alternating being Princess Leia and The Fairy Godmother so that you can play with two kids at the same time and keeping one ear on one story line and the other ear on the other story line so you can jump accurately from character to character.

Then:  One in a dimly lit restaurant that requires fancy dress and costs more than it honestly should.
Now: One wherein there are no time-outs are given, 80% or more of the food makes it into human mouths rather than the dog's, I do not utter the phrases "less talk more eat," "smaller bites," "two hands on your cup," "sit properly in your chair," "chew with your mouth closed," etc more than 10 times, I don't have to explain what "the green thing" is or where food is not-so-subtly pushed around because it doesn't meet the discerning palate of a child barely old enough to wipe their own butt.

Then: Taken because you are feeling under the weather, drank too much the night before, want to ditch work, got last minute concert tickets out of town, etc. you sleep in, stay on your couch watching movies or go somewhere fun but far enough away you won't get caught.
Now: Forget "sick days", you don't get them any more.  Now this is one or more family members huddled together, voluntarily quarantined while some vomit or mucus or fever super-bug renders you all semi-conscious and LUCKY is if a) you have enough toilets that you don't start using buckets, bowls, etc and/or b) the bug has rendered the kids as weak as you are because otherwise sick kids run around like maniacs with bodily fluids flying willy-nilly while you can barely move and you pray that you have enough episodes of Phineas and Ferb on your DVR that you might get some sleep or at least get to stop moving for a while.

Then: The hot guy or girl in your class, the first sunny spring day when you live in a rainy place, the dress you always wanted, a sunset on a date, seeing a shooting star.
Now: Your baby the first time you hold him/her, the sound of your kids laughing together, your kid's first smile (and really, every smile after that), the sound of your baby's cry when he/she is delivered after some complications and you're terrified they won't make it, that picture of your child's tiny, tiny hand in their father's.

Phrase: BREAK
Then: This word follows Winter, Spring or Summer and signifies when you get to party, vacation, go back home or let loose.
Now:  5 minutes alone on the toilet, an uninterrupted shower, 10 minutes in the doctor's office waiting room, when your kick-ass husband takes the kids out for a few hours so you don't go bat-shit insane.

Phrase: LOUD
Then: Your neighbor's party the night before your biggest final, the a-hole's car down the street because he thinks it's cool to drive sans muffler or "trick out" his Toyota Tercel.
Now: Your kids 99.9% of the time.  They will speak at heretofore unthinkable decibels even if you're sitting RIGHT next to them.  They do not come with volume controls.  Just warning you now.

Phrase: MESS
Then: Your apartment after a party, your room because cleanliness comes last after classes, boyfriends, extra-curricular activities, etc. your car because you neglected to dispose of the most recent McDonald's evidence or you're so busy you often carry a change of clothes.
Now: Any room, seat at the table, vehicle or item of clothing that your small child has spent more than 5 minutes in.  Be prepared for an array of petrified snacks, spoiling liquids, bodily fluids and mystery substances.

Phrase: LOVE
Then: That jumpy feeling in your stomach when you're falling for someone, sharing your dessert even when it's your favorite, making reservations somewhere special on Valentine's Day, that strange euphoria/oh-shit panic combo you feel when you know you've found "the one."
Now: The literal, PHYSICAL ache you feel during an unwanted separation from your child, attempting to sleep all night in an upright position so your kid can breathe when they're sick, sharing tears with your preschooler because he comes home sad and says, "no one wanted to play with me today," giving up a boys/girls night out because your kid's face when they ask for a special "family night" or a special "mommy or daddy date" is so heartbreakingly precious that you forget you need a break.

Phrase: HEAVEN
Then: Falling asleep on the beach because the sun is so warm, a vacation in a beautiful place, a perfect date, a massage.
Now: That moment before you fall asleep and you hear soft breathing on the monitor and know everyone is safe, sitting with a flashlight in a blanket fort with a kid cuddled under each arm reading a story, teeny arms wrapped around your neck while a little voice says, "I love you mommy" and a little hand in yours while you walk on a gorgeous summer day while a little voice says, "I'm so glad you get to stay home with me now mommy".

Life has indeed changed.  I am immune to vomit, poop, spit, mucus and pee.  I often scream myself hoarse not because my children are horrible, but I'm so short on sleep I cannot handle even a little bit of misbehavior.  I take showers at 10:30 at night or 6:00 in the morning if I want a GUARANTEE it won't be interrupted.  Vacations now involve mouse ears instead of tropical locales.  I know the theme songs to Phineas & Ferb, Dinosaur Train, Olivia, Caillou, Super Why, My Little Pony and Curious George.  I worry incessantly about my kid's health, sanity, happiness and safety.

Am I complaining?  Nope.  See above definitions of Love and Heaven.  Ain't life grand?

1 comment:

  1. Jared and I were just talking about how the little decisions change so much. For instance, we sometimes wonder if we should have waited a little longer to start having kids, especially when people make well-meaning (or not-so-well-meaning) but judgmental comments. Then we remember that if we had waited to have Logan, we would probably never have met you guys! Crazy how things work out, isn't it?