Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thank You

A Father's Day thank you to my husband:

Thank you for knowing the details.  During the do-we-have-a-child negotiation phase, I may have reacted harshly toward you when I learned some dads don't know how to pack a diaper bag.  Little did I know there was nothing to fear.  Not only are you an amazing father and an expert diaper bag packer, but you have kept our son alive, diapered, and clothed when I travel for work or go out for a ladies night.  You have continued to impress me and surpass all my expectations.

Thank you for letting my gene pool annihilate your gene pool.  It's not a competition.  But if it was, I'm definitely winning.  While you may not love it now, down the road it may come in handy.  When our son toddles over to you and asks: Dad, why are my cheeks so big?  Why are my shoes so tight?  Why are my shirts so short?  you can just shuffle him over to me.  Then I, and my dominant gene pool, will have to explain how my attributes equate to always having a baby face, (super) high arches, and a long torso. 

However, once I have corrective surgery for my "deviated septum" he will only have you to blame for a large nose (Note: Donations are now being accepted for this important procedure.  Please write Nose in the need to confuse this money with the college fund).

Thank you for teaching me to be in the moment.  Because of you, I have relaxed (a bit) from the sole focus of accomplishing tasks, to being more present in each moment.  It is easy to be distracted by organizing and cleaning to the point where I miss quality time with our boy.  Now although fewer items are crossed off of the to-do list, but more time is spent seeing our little man laughing and playing.  Tasks can be taken care of later, and eventually my hope is we can train our Tasmanian devil to throw in a helping hand.  He can't freeload on fun forever.

Thank you for letting me hover.  During maternity leave, no one was there to judge or point out errors I made throughout the day.  I had the freedom to make mistakes and learn from those to create best practices.  Unfortunately for you, I was frequently around to offer unsolicited "help" or "advice."  When I finally gave you room to breathe and test out parenting on your own, you were the one giving valuable insights to me!   

Thank you for acknowledging the MVP (Most Valuable Parent).  After going on and on about how great you are, it's important to bring you down a notch.  Let's remember -- no matter how great you are -- our son has designated me MVP.  Thanks for letting me relish the moments he reaches for me from your arms, walks quickly (too young for running yet) to me for pains or pickups, and cries when I leave the room.  Knowing the title MVP will change hands over the years, I need to soak up all the extra attention while I can. 

So tonight I raise a glass and thank you for being the best baby daddy and husband I could ever hope for.  Happy Father's Day!  

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Best & Worst

To kick off a Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens probably had the first eight weeks of parenting in mind when he wrote "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times...."

The beginning moments are never forgotten.  Holding my baby for the first time was surreal.  I would spend hours watching him sleep.  Though most of those hours were to ensure he was still breathing.  Nine months of work wasn't going down the drain on my watch. 

Another perk of newborns is their surprising portability.  Once asleep, hardly anything woke him and packing him in a carrier or stroller was a sure nap in the making.  As long as a bottle or boob was nearby, we were good to go.

However sweet those moments, there also came a few bumps in the road.  People warned of sleep deprivation and high expenses, but I don’t remember anyone mentioning the topics below.  Consider yourself warned.

The Witching Hour
We were blissfully ignorant of this expression pre-infant.  The witching hour refers to the time babies scream inconsolably.  And scream.  Our “hour” (Bogus, by the way.  Wish it was only an hour) was each & every evening for eight weeks.  One traumatic night he screamed six hours straight.  No exaggeration. Six. Hours.  

This instance had us asking the important questions: What is the warranty on babies?  How flexible is the Nordstrom ‘return anything’ policy?

Neither the hospital nor Nordstrom would accept him as a valid exchange, but luckily the episodes ended and evenings together became more enjoyable. 

Nap Deprivation
The phrase "sleep like a baby" is misleading.  It makes one believe they not only love sleep but do so often (word on the street is 18 hours a day).  Early on, our baby took a strong stance against sleep.  When we realized the issue, help was sought from every available book, theory, and doctor.  Although recommendations varied, one idea was consistent: we should be able to mold his sleep patterns.    

His refusal to sleep and my inability to control it made me crazy.  Concerned it reflected poor parenting skills, I obsessed.  I called my husband at work bawling when he wouldn’t go down.  Self-loathing settled in when I resorted to the ‘prohibited’ motion sleep after all else failed.  Then anger switched to self-pity as I was the one awake, stuck pushing a stroller while he rested peacefully in a dream of warm milk and tummy time. 

Life drastically improved after I relaxed and realized my obsession wasn’t creating a perfect napper.  It only made me miserable.  While my son never had a napping epiphany, the new version of me was more enjoyable to be around. 

When seeking comfort from others, we scoffed at those saying “it gets better.”  That’s vague.  Better?  As in: still terrible, but not as terrible?  And what is the timeframe?  When does better kick in? 

It took about 10 weeks for us to see the light at the end of the tunnel (take heart: many have shorter timeframes).  And each month has continued to surpass the next.  To us, better meant our son transitioned from the personality of a gummy bear to an interacting, learning, and smiling little man. 

My unsolicited advice is to soak up the joyful moments and power through the challenges.  Just as Charles Dicken's quote starts off a great novel, we are embarking on an amazing and memorable journey called parenthood.