Monday, August 29, 2011

Parenting

I've always been a pretty logical person. It's hard for me to believe things without facts in front of me. This is one of the reasons I have always struggled with concepts that aren't concrete like love and faith. Of course, I always knew I loved my family, and I always found a belief in God to be logical (I mean, even if there was a big bang, where did those elements come from?)

When I was pregnant, I felt a bit of disconnect. Sure, I knew there was a baby growing in my stomach. Sure, I saw her on the ultrasound (every week due to my complications). I couldn't help but think "Geez, I'm going to be a terrible mother. I don't feel like a mother right now, and it's hard to believe that there's an actual baby in my stomach." It doesn't help that you feel like an alien is going to pop out of your stomach at anytime, and they do look so alien like on those early ultrasounds. I never really swooned over babies. I mean I held them, and I thought they were cute and I knew I wanted a family, but I didn't know what to think of being a parent. I was hoping that I wouldn't have the same experience with my child as I did with my wedding (I got really excited with the planning and was kinda let down by the event and the choices I made. I was so worried about saying my vows wrong I didn't cry...but I cry at every other person's wedding)

So, when I went in to be induced, I was scared of a) the pain and b) the actual responsibility of taking care of a child and c) I wouldn't appreciate how special the moment is. The closer you get to your due date you start to realize how much you don't know about being a parent. What is a too high temp? What color should their bowel movements be? Are they gaining enough weight? What does that cry mean? How in the heck do you breastfeed? I'm an information-a-holic. I am one of those people that must read all the information I can. I think I ended up reading five or six books before giving birth. (I think the only book you need is one that says "Every single child is different. You must learn to adapt") The minute I saw my daughter, my husband and I cried. In fact, I pretty much cry every single time I think about it. Part of that is the fact that since my daughter's birth, I cry at every single little thing.
However, since the minute she was born, I haven't questioned my love for her. While I have loved many things with a passion, nothing compares to the love I feel for my daughter.

Even when I was super depressed I couldn't breastfeed or when she wouldn't sleep after being up for 12 hours screaming or when she decided to rub feces all over me and the carpet...and the dogs...and the crib...and bath tub.... I still loved her. Kids are messy crazy creatures. I used to be a neat freak. I remember having arguments with my brother and eventually my husband about doing the dishes. I used to dust. Imagine that. Now, I think of all the places I can hid the dirty dishes when people come over. I figure that dressers are for those without children. I have a permanent unfolder on staff in my house. Why are landlords so concerned with my three dogs? My daughter has done more destruction in 15 months than my dogs have done in 5 years. (Seriously.)

I had this picture of what my life would be with a child. Play dates, art projects, walks, and lunches with friends. Thank goodness my daycare provider has it together and can take care of the play date and art portion of my fantasy. When I was staying at home, my days were filled with keeping my sanity and my house just above the legal standards for liveable. My husband would come home, and I'd be booking it to the grocery store or to the post office. Anything to get me out of the house for 20 minutes. My husband couldn't understand this until he stayed home with our daughter for two days. When he stated he was running to the store, an activity he loathes, just to get out of the house, I couldn't help but laugh.
But now we're both in the same position. Our house is a bit cleaner since we're never home. We can share the responsibility of taking care of our daughter in the evenings, and now we don't have to worry about finding a sitter if one of us has a meeting in the evening. Even though my life now more closely reflects my fantasy family life, I crave my disorganized daughter centered stay-at-home mom job.

I will admit when people would say they were a stay-at-home mom or said they wanted to be, I would maybe judge them a bit. I would think that maybe they weren't motivated or something. Then I got the luxury to be one. And that's all I want in my life. A career seems empty without the ability to share it with my little human. I'd rather see my daughter learn to wave or say "mommy" than get a promotion or a raise any day. Maybe this crazy thing called parenthood makes you a little less materialistic and a little more appreciative of the less "logical" things.

All I know is that parenthood used to be something I wanted to do, and now it's the only thing I want to do. Maybe that's old fashioned in a world that practically requires a family to have two incomes. But in the end, I'm not going to measure my life by my work, no matter how well it goes. I will reflect on my family, and the memories we have made together.

I'm lucky that I've had a great example in both my family and my in-laws. My grandfather, who passed away this last spring, was a great example of this. I didn't know until I read his obituary that he had invented a computer system that is still in use today in most ambulances. I knew him as someone that was so proud of me that the only time I ever saw him tear up was when I graduated high school, college and law school. The man that was so excited when I told him I was pregnant that he couldn't stop talking to my stomach. The great grandfather, that while he was just a few days from passing away, was more concerned about my daughter knowing/remembering who he was than his pain or the great unknown looming in front of him.

Life is about love. I have my daughter to thank for teaching me that love and faith aren't abstract concepts. They live in little moments that happen everyday. I hope everyone can experience that sometime in their life.

1 comment:

Mindy said...

I completely agree about just wanting to stay home with your little one. I stayed home with my first for 10 months, and really wish I could do so with this one. As it is, I'm definitely looking forward to only working part-time for 3 months after my 6 week maternity leave.