For Christmas, I received a subscription to StoryWorth.com from Jessie and Peter.
If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a site for writing down autobiographical memories at regular intervals in response to suggested questions.
They must think I’m old.
Anyway, I thought I would post some at this site because it’s been inactive for awhile.
What one thing do you wish you knew before having a baby?
There’re really two things.
First, if you don’t have children, you cannot conceive of what an all-consuming time sink that little bundle of joy actually is.
People who get married talk about what an enormous life change that marriage is. I get it, but you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Marriage, especially today, increases the convenience in your life. Now, assuming you are right for each other, all your stuff is now located in one place, you can merge your finances in a legally protected way, and you have a new name for the “next of kin” space on forms.
Ah, but parenthood is the definition of inconvenience.
Nine long, progressively more tiresome months that end in a painful hospital scene. Speaking as an observer, of course.
Crying all night, for no apparent reason. (At least not apparent to you, rookie.) A seemingly endless stream of progressively more repulsive poopy diapers. The baby cannot be unattended.
Ever. Full stop.
If it’s asleep in its room, you hear noises, or you don’t hear enough noises, so either way, you have to get up and check.
Going out? Got diapers? Bottles? Did you pump? Binkies? Toys? Bib? Change of clothes? Maybe two? PJs if late? Put them all in that giant baby bag. Leave room in the car for the car seat, baby bed, playpen and/or stroller.
It’s hell I tell you.
But the second thing is the much more important one.
Do you know why new parents show you endless pictures of little tykes with wrinkly faces like Winston Churchill? Why they go on and on with allegedly “cute stories”?
It’s the switch. The one in your brain that somehow gets thrown, automatically, when you are first confronted with your brand new offspring. It happens, and it happens to people that you never thought you’d see rolling on the floor with a giggling two year old.
No matter your personal pre-parenthood fastidiousness, your first post-parental instinct is to catch that baby vomit in midair, in your bare hand, rather than have it stain the couch. Then all the parents in the room laugh and get up to help. Because it happens. A lot.
Pee in Daddy’s shirt pocket while I’m carrying you to the tub? Why you little dickens! A funny story for later, to make parents laugh and the childless shake their heads.
You love it. Making stupid faces and feeling great when you get a laugh. Reading their favorite children’s stories and poems over and over, and singing the same five songs every night at bedtime, is the highlight of your day.
You actually really do love the paintings and other childhood “crafts” that you hang on the refrigerator. I have a little pillow and a rock with a picture on it that I would never part with.
You just generally love being a parent. Not every minute, of course; it’s real life after all and a lot of it can be tough, physically, mentally and emotionally. But things usually seem to work out, and even tough things can be a “lesson” as we parents say.
I read once that somehow women don’t remember the pain of childbirth, that’s how they are able to repeatedly go through it. I don’t know if that’s true, but I think that parenthood might work on the same principle, where the routine daily problems, crises and disappointments of normal life fade, and the fun days and small triumphs are what remains.
And also, once the switch is thrown, it can never be fully reset. That’s probably why grandparents act like that.
Anyway, so I guess I’m pro-parenthood. It’s what got me on the planet, and I am really thrilled to have been able to pay it forward. A couple of times.