I had heard that parenting was a crazy / amazing ride and that you’ll feel different your whole life after the moment it happens. But you never quite know what that means until it happens to you. I started to get it pregnant – when I’d be utterly paranoid about anything happening to her as she grew – but it’s only hit me recently how very true this is now a few months in. Of course there were signs…
The first sign probably should have been the first poop – the merconium – at the hospital. My husband showed it to everyone (those poor nurses) and took a picture of it. Now even I thought he was weird here, so maybe the full measure of change of parenting hadn’t hit me yet. Or maybe they’d given me better pain killers.
Another early sign that should have caught me was that I didn’t much seem to mind being pooped or peed on. I’d look down at a stain on my clothes and wonder – do I really have to change this right now? I sort of washed it off and I’m tired and have other stuff to do. Now, I’m not saying I’m the most fastidious dresser on a regular occasion. I wish I could say I was. I admire people who are. But me? Yeah, my hair is probably in a ponytail or some makeshift bun. I’m probably not wearing make-up. My clothes are probably a bit bland and more comfortable looking than fashionable. Heck - my shoes probably aren’t even that cute (now I used to try there! But I seem to have lost my ability in heels since their hiatus during pregnancy). But even in my worst pre-child state, my clothes were usually clean – or at the very least devoid of excrement! For the record, almost every time I’ve looked down and said – do I really need to change due to the poop, I’ve come up with yes as answer. Almost.
But I think the one that should really have given me a clue was my pleasure at seeing her no matter what the hour. I’ll be lying in bed, deeply asleep just trying to catch up, and I’ll hear her wake up at whatever ungodly hour. I’ll silently groan/moan to myself (or possibly not whatsoever silently grown/moan to my husband) and try to push the dog out of the way to struggle out of bed (the dog will immediately steal my spot). I’ll stumble over to her room (sometimes literally stumbling and walking into a wall on my way – it’s just the new levels of tired that I didn’t know existed before), grumpy the whole way. And then when I get to her crib and look down at her – she smiles at me! You’d think this would infuriate me. I mean, seriously, any other person or life form that cried out in need, but then smiled at my arrival – indicating the need wasn’t so great that you REALLY had to be crying about it right now and waking me up – I’d get mad at / be infuriated by. But she smiles her little flirty smile that says, I’m just so happy to see you, and I have to smile back. I may not be able to fully keep my eyes open for the feeding and may put her right back after – but I look at how angelic she now looks full and sleeping – and I don’t mind getting up so much. (Reader’s note: This was NOT true the first 3 weeks when she was just up all night! Or not as true anyway.)
But it occurs to me that this change in my feeling will be true in all things. In the first few weeks when she was home and I was exhausted and hormonal and weepy, I lamented to think that she’d break my heart for the rest of my life (oh jeez – did I risk being one of THOSE mothers?!) – as she grew and walked away. But I now realize that in life I’m set up to experience pride and joy like I never have before.
It also had occurred to me that it’s created a new hierarchy in life for me in more ways than I even thought. As I was saying my prayers last night (ok, the quick bless ‘ems that I try to do before collapsing), I realized how the order had changed. As a child, I always prayed for me first, then my parents, then my brother (cause I liked him least!) and then extended family or friends. Now I always pray for this child first and focus on that one most. Then my husband and then me. (Then my parents and last my brother – cause I still like him least! – and then whoever else is making the cut on any given day.)