My world had been very different before I had a baby. The freedom! Oh I could do absolutely anything I wanted at anytime. I worked really hard (sometimes too hard) and played really hard too. I didn’t have anyone else to think about except myself.
Now she’s got one. As Bart Simpson would say: “Heh,heh.”
We are all acquainted with the “funny” bone, which doesn’t feel funny at all when whacked against a table edge.
I believe we also have “told-you-so” tissue. It’s not as tangible as a bone; it’s softer, more enigmatic. Instead of triggering waves of pins and needles, it gently massages our sense of righteousness and justice.
I first became acquainted with Lexie nearly two years ago. I already had my two children and was beginning my journey as a Parent Blogger. For me, when someone referred to a hyperlink, I thought they were talking about my daughter.
Lexie held my hand as I waded slowly into the blogsphere ocean. Although I can swim on my own now, she’s still very much the lifeguard watching from her elevated chair on the beach.
I would submit post after post, prattling on about parenthood. At the time, she had no children, and I wondered how she could stand to read my drivel about my kids, much less engineer a website full of parents wanting their offsprings’ exploits on her front page. Most of the childless people I knew would grant me, out of pure politeness, five or six minutes during which I could monologue about my kids before they were distracted by a barn swallow on a nearby telephone pole.
Although we’ve never met face-to-face, I never had the sense Lexie was rolling her digital eyes at parenthood.
Now, she’s part of the group.
Conversations between parents and the childless can often be heterogeneous; especially if you’re a stay-at-home mother or father. When people ask a parent “what’s new?”, we respond as most people do: by talking about whatever occupies the majority of your 9 to 5 hours. When you’re a parent, that work-week is spent parenting. When you have no children, the details will be selected stories from the office. Both parties are talking about our jobs; the difference is, most parents have held office jobs prior to becoming parents, while those without children have no frame of reference relating to parenthood.
Talking about your kids with a non-parent can be like constantly relaying stories of the months you spent in an arctic weather station. After four or five anecdotes, people feel they’re heard all they’re interested in hearing. A polite “Wow!” becomes “Don’t you do anything else?”
This is why our children choose our friends, Lexie. Be prepared.
You may not think so at first, but they do.
Your free time becomes limited because what was free time is no longer free – it now costs a babysitter’s hourly wage.. So, what free time you do have is either spent with those friends who are worth $10 an hour, or those who have children whose humor is compatible with your son’s or daughter’s. If those criteria aren’t met, it sets off the rumblings of friendship separation: “We really should get together more.” the first email will read. “Hi, sorry I haven’t called sooner.” will be the next phone message.
Parenting is not the hardest job I’ve ever had. That was probably being a waiter for 750 kids at a summer camp, or laying slate tile in my kitchen. I don’t think parenting is necessarily more difficult than office work, either. There are days when fighting deadlines; dealing with office politics; and having the burden of wage-earning made me yearn for a plate of broccoli being thrown across the slate tile in the kitchen.
However, as my wife once said, it is the most intense relationship I’ve ever had. It is also a responsibility which necessitates not only a deep emotional involvement, but also one you can never walk away from. Ever. No quitting, no resigning, no transferring departments, no going back to school to learn some other profession to replace being a mother or father. You’re in it forever.
So, welcome, Lexie!
From what I know of the electronic version of you, I’m sure you’ll be a great mother.
A couple of reminders:
1) Don’t let your son sneak downstairs while you’re watching HBO.
2) Lean on this great online community you’ve built for shoulders and hugs.
As for me, you go play on the beach with your family. I’ll be up in this chair, reading this paperback book you left next to the life-preserver. Don’t worry, when you have time to read another chapter, it’ll be right here where you left it, before that little boy came along.