I can admit it now. Before I had my baby, I was a judger. I listened to women who talked about how raising children was so much harder than working and thought, “Come on. I know changing diapers isn’t that fun, but it’s not that difficult either.” I heard new mothers complaining of lack of sleep and secretly thought, “Buck up. It’s just part of being a parent. Sure, it’s rough when you don’t get a good night’s sleep, but it’ll be over before you know it.” In short, while I believed that having a baby would be challenging in its own way, deep down I thought that moms as a whole were taking themselves a little bit too seriously. I know, I know. I was in for a holier-than-thou smackdown.
So, what’s the big deal about having a baby (to all of you with multiple babies, hats off to you)? I’ve come to find out that it isn’t the diaper changes (well, not necessarily. Sometimes when the pureed carrots come out exactly like they went in, it’s a little gross, but you get over that quickly). But it is the fact that most days I change baby boy’s diaper way more than needed, because it’s something to do. It isn’t that raising a baby is, on the difficulty scale, harder than being an accountant (obviously, since sometimes I find myself unsure if I still know how to do long division). But it is that my life has done a 180 in terms of what words like “success,” “productive,” and “hard work” mean. Back in the day, when I finished a project or an assignment I could mark it “finished,” accept praise or criticism, and be on my way, knowing exactly what I’d accomplished and what I needed to accomplish next. Now, life is more of a revolving door. Feed, clean, change, play, repeat. Nothing is ever finished, and I often find myself at a loss in even these simple activities (are we playing enough? Are we playing too much? Is he bored? Why is he screaming all of a sudden in the middle of eating?).
It isn’t the lack of sleep. Okay, actually it is the lack of sleep. I had no idea the despair one feels after being woken up by screaming for the 10th time in a night for a month straight, with no end in sight. Theoretically, I know that we’ll all sleep again someday, and logically I know that this will be a short amount of time compared to the rest of my life, but logic is far, far away at 3 a.m. This compounded by the salt in the wound of people who kindly offer the information that their baby slept through the night at 5 weeks.
Don’t miss my point, I love my baby. His smiles, awkward little giggles, and soft pats on the face are something of a natural high. I wouldn’t trade him in. But he is a big, big deal.