Having a baby changes your life the minute it happens (even before then if you count stretch marks, sleepless nights, and morning sickness). As soon as you see your first baby in the delivery room you realize that:
You’re incredible!!! You have just created this perfect little life inside of your stomach! Nobody else could have ever done anything as incredible as this before. Wow!
You have no idea how to take care of a baby.
You will never sleep soundly again.
You might drop the baby if you fall asleep out of exhaustion while feeding him or her.
Never again will you come first.
Parenting: it is the best thing I’ve ever done, but it’s hard work if you can get it.
I watch my childless friends and relatives with their dogs. Their dogs “Hurry up!” and might even “Sit!”, and sleep quietly in their cages. I am lucky if my dachschund doesn’t tear a roll of toilet paper into five thousand tiny white pieces right after the housekeeper has left and I have forgotten to close the bathroom door for the five hundreth time.
My friends and relatives without children can go out any night of the week without worrying about babysitters, or how their absence will impact their children’s lives long-term, or wondering which porno sites they are perusing or, even worse, auditioning for. They don’t have to calculate the number of hours of sleep they have left before they have to wake their children up to get them ready for school, or a soccer match, or a chess tournament.
From cutting the tiniest fingernails ever and worrying that you will cut your little baby’s finger, to advising your teenagers about love and relationships and safety and the big, bad world at large, you will worry every day. You won’t want to turn your cell phone ringer off, because the one time you do there will be nine urgent messages when you turn it back on, informing you of some serious horror involving one of your children that you should have known about sooner. You won’t sleep soundly (or at all) until you hear the front door close when the last one returns from a weekend night out. You will never have all the answers. They will never do exactly what you hope for, or what you tell them to do.
Being a parent: it’s hard work if you can get it. It’s the most expensive undertaking in most people’s lives, and for me the most rewarding. There is nothing better than holding a little newborn baby and smelling his or her head. Right after I had my babies my father told me,
“Enjoy them now because this will go by so fast.”
“Enjoy them before they can walk or talk.”
I thought he was crazy at the time, but now I crave infants when I see them. Children grow up so quickly, and they will never lay still in your arms again while you sniff at them. They will think you’re weird, or a pervert, or they’ll want to engage you in debates about child prostitution or politics. I look at my children now and I am still filled with wonder and awe at the beauty and grace they both possess, the people they have become. Nothing could be more worth losing sleep over. I will happily worry about them and try to help guide them through their journeys on this planet every day of my life. It is almost a relief that they can dress themselves now, and go places alone, and think for themselves,
I still want to sneak little sniffs of the heads of strangers’ babies. I want to offer to hold them if their parents seem frustrated or exhausted.
I can’t wait to be a grandmother.
Maybe I should be a baby nurse.