May 31st, 2010
We’ve all got a low-grade sicky-snotty thing and this is probably a terrible thing to say, but I am generally pretty laid back about snotty noses and colds in Sam. Hell, she’s a little kid, and she’s building her immune system, so short of carting her around in a bubble, I figure she’s going to get sick often enough, so we might as well get it over with, amiright? It’s just not worth it otherwise, and this, too, shall pass. (Provided it’s not puke. I do not do well with puke.)
However, I am, shall we say, LESS THAN THRILLED when the sickness leaches to the rest of us, and I find myself lying supine on the couch, a puddle of drool under my mouth as my face is smashed up against the arm, praying, just PRAYING, for my kid to entertain herself for five whole minutes so that I can stay immobile for as long as possible. Adam and I BOTH got it this time, so it’s not even like one of us can play the sick card, so dealing with Sam was a bit like a game of chicken today. YOU take her. No, YOU. I INSIST.
We had old friends over for dinner this weekend — one half of the couple is my closest friend from college, and is credited with introducing Adam and me — and it was lovely to see them, as I didn’t even realize how much I’d missed them until I was with them again. That’s what’s been strangest, I think, about being back here — I have a long history here, with friends from all over the place, and former coworkers, and dude, I KEEP RUNNING INTO PEOPLE and it’s WEIRD. At the grocery store! The hair salon! (That was nice, when I thought my friend Deb was my new hairdresser, and she was all, “Um, Jonna? I’m not cutting your hair. IT’S ME. DEB. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?”)
Five years of living places where you have no history and you NEVER see people you know will do that to you. It’s weird and a little unnerving, because going to the grocery store in yoga pants and no makeup can take a turn for the reunion over the cheese case with someone you haven’t seen in ten years. It’s even weirder, because MetroWest is not a small place. I mean, it encompasses nine or ten towns and almost 200,000 people, and yet, EVERY DAY, oh look, someone I know! Oh, dear.
Anyway, our dinner companions do not yet have children, and the conversation inevitably turned to when the right time is to have kids, and all that rot, and you know what? I really sucked at selling it. I was kind of alarmed to look back on the conversation with the realization that, to a certain degree, I sounded like every other totally obnoxious parent trying to answer the questions of the kidless about How It Is. I mean, I wasn’t condescending or anything truly egregious, but to say I undersold the experience is probably a vast understatement. I complained about the usual — the sleepless nights, the lack of travel ease, the three to five months of screaming and I think I even threw in a nice line or two about how newborns truly suck.
You give up a lot when you have a child, it’s true. But what I completely failed to focus on is what you get in return, and how none of that ever — at least for me — makes a lick of sense until the child is yours, and every little thing is effing MAGICAL. Our friends were discussing how most people have advised them to travel — to get in some truly selfish, glorious trips in before their lives become infinitely more complicated and heading off to Rome on a moment’s notice is a virtual impossibility. I answered by sort of rolling my eyes and saying yes, dude, YES, traveling with a kid is nothing like it used to be, as we have to get a suite and flying sucks and ugh ugh ugh.
And yes, that’s true. But what is also true is that honestly, one of the things I’m looking forward to most is taking Sam to see the world. Yes, my days of luxuriating on the beach with a good book and a fruity drink are long gone (or at least on hold), but in exchange, I’m going to get to show Sam some of my favorite things, and find out what hers are. Yes, I don’t get nearly as much sleep as I used to, but none of that compares to how stupidly, laughably proud I felt when Sam learned to sing “Ooh-Ah! Ooh-Ah!” along with Laurie Berkner’s “Walk Along the River.” Yes, I spent the day in a virtual faceplant, too exhausted to want to deal with a kid who was antsy and desperate to get out of the house, but when I finally loaded her into the car seat and opened the passenger window, she threw her arms in the air like she was on a rollercoaster and giggled like a fool while the breeze blew her curls around.
We don’t get out much. We’re working on finding a local sitter, and yes, of course, we’re looking forward to date nights and dinners out without her and the occasional movie. All things I totally enjoyed and took for granted when I was childless. But I do not, and I mean this, resent that those days are gone, or even miss them that much. For one, I’m usually too damn tired by the end of the day, and besides, Adam and I have learned to make time for each other after Sam’s asleep, and alternating who gets to go out and for what. And my marriage? Is even better since we had Sam. It really is.
And again, my God, I got so much in exchange. A kid who thinks the (cleaned, I swear) perianal squeeze bottle I got in the hospital is the greatest bath toy ever. Geezuz, you’d think she discovered WATER the way she carries on with that thing, squirting herself, me and anyone who dares enter the bathroom. It’s the most thrilling thing EVER, that squeeze bottle, and my heart breaks a little from joy every time she waves her arms in anticipation of playing in the tub.
The kid can spot a picture of a dog from a mile away. And a real dog? Brace yourself for some serious excitement. The full-body wiggling! The pointing! The cries of “GEE GEE GEEEEEE! DOGGEEEEE!” Sorry, but that shit is unparalleled. I don’t know that I’ve seen anyone that excited about anything, ever. Seriously. Sometimes I can’t even find the dog she’s so jazzed about, and I have to scan the room, only to find the ONE greeting card on a display ten feet away that has the face of a dalmation on the front.
And the Frankensteining around! Toddling side-to-side, totally unstable, but fearlessly plunging ahead anyway. Oh, man. It can’t be beat. It just can’t. I love this kid so much, and seeing her grow up is something I wouldn’t trade for a million years of travel on an unlimited budget. I wouldn’t give up a second of this for anything in the world, and there’s nothing I’d rather be doing.
This is all sounding very trite and lame, right? Of course it is. And I think that’s why I resort to complaining about the hard stuff. Because it’s easier to sound like the snarkier cliche than the glowy brainwashed one who goes on and on for a solid five minutes about how amazing it is that my kid — the one who didn’t sleep for more than two hours in a row the first ten months of her life — now snuggles into bed with Mr. Mouse and waves night-night to me before settling down FOR THE WHOLE NIGHT. UNTIL LIKE, SEVEN AM.
There’s no way to explain it. None at all. But if you’re thinking about it, want to do it, and just aren’t sure if it’s the right time, because you have all these things you want to do? Eh. Screw ’em. Just do it. You won’t regret it. You’ll still be you. But it doesn’t make a difference what I say, because you have to find out for yourself. That’s the truth.
Happy Tuesday! I hope you had a great holiday weekend.