On New Parenthood

At the risk of jinxing ourselves, I think we are getting the hang of this new parent thing. Eric and I were laughing the other day about how we’ve become parent ninjas. As soon as the baby’s down for a nap, we dash off to start the laundry/load the dishwasher/check our email/take a shower/make the bed. Okay, that last one was just a joke to see if you were paying attention. Ain’t nobody making the bed around here. Ain’t nobody complaining about it either.

In those first days at home, Eric asked me what I was most surprised by about being a mom so far. (He can always be counted on to ask sweet and thoughtful questions like this). I told him first that it was hard in a way that you can’t appreciate until you’re actually living it. Not impossible hard,Β and not even unhappy hard,Β but just challenging, mostly in the sleep deprivation arena. It reminded me of how I understood intellectually that morning sickness and labor were going to be hard, but I didn’t really understand what that meant until I got there. Happily, we are already sleeping an awful lot more than we did in those first weeks, but I’ll tack on an addendum: I have been surprised by how quickly you adjust to your new normal in terms of sleep. I always wondered how I would manage that, since an hour of tossing and turning in the night used to all but wreck my day. Now, six hours of sleep is my personal heaven, and I get a few naps in during the day while Micah is sleeping too. It’s awesomely manageable!

I also said that I couldn’t believe it was so much fun already. He said the same. Eric is a happy person, but I have never seen such delight in him as when he is with our son. It is amazing to watch. I’ll be down the hall putting clothes in the dryer and I’ll hear him giggling away at something Micah has done. And there are new sweet and funny things he does nearly every day.

I’d likewise add that all those parenting cliches are so, so true. It turns out that there is nothing better than holding a sleeping baby or being the recipient of a baby smile. Your whole heart is outside your body now, swaddled and lightly snoring in his crib. You can’t, in fact, imagine your life without this tiny perfect creature. I’ve never ever loved cliches this much.

And I love that we have retained the playfulness of our relationship, even while juggling so much new responsibility. The first couple of days, as we were adjusting to a new (lack of!) schedule and worrying about whether or not our baby was eating/sleeping/pooping enough, most of our conversations took place with furrowed brows and concerned expressions. As we got the hang of things, though, laughter crept right back into our lives. What you really need, I think, when you are entering a whole new world, is someone who can make you laugh, someone who can remind you that you are still you, even as you step into a demanding new role.

I have been really happy to find that my favorite things about our marriage have carried over into parenthood. We each truly want what is best for the other, and we find joy in being kind to each other. We communicate so well, and we are so good at asking each other for help when we need it. I feel like these last six weeks have shown us parts of each other that we never saw before. One night I was having trouble calming Micah, and Eric took him in his arms and said, “Here, Micah, come see your Daddy,” and I just stood there and cried, the happiest of tears.

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