Monday, October 14, 2013

Parenthood: Week 20 – The Things I Miss & The Things That I Can’t Imagine Living Without

There are some things that I miss about my life pre-Ollie but there are also some things that I can’t imagine living without that Ollie has brought to my life. So let’s start with the 5 things I miss pre-baby (in no particular order).

1.  Uninterrupted Television Viewing: There was a time that Diana and I could watch full episodes of hour-long television shows without interruption. Now it’s more like fifteen-minute chunks here and there. Our DVR is more full than it's ever been. Ollie has a way of interrupting things.

2. Weekly Poo-Free Laundry: We used to do laundry once a week and rarely if ever were there poo or puke stains on any of the clothing.  Now, we do laundry once every two or three days and those stains I was talking about, that’s part of almost every single load.

3. Doing Nothing: There’s rarely nothing to do around the house related to Ollie. Beyond the laundry, there are bottles to clean, diapers to take out, laundry to fold, and things to read up on. If I’m sitting at home doing nothing, I am ignoring something that needs to be done, sometimes this is okay, but I ache for the days when I truly had nothing that needed to get done.

4. Quickly Getting out of the house: “Wallet, keys, phone, you good? Let’s go.” Now when we go out, first off we have to make sure that someone is watching Ollie and if we are taking Ollie there’s a whole production. We have to make sure that we are going during a time that is good for Ollie and pack all of the stuff he needs. Now it’s “diaper bag, carrier, car seat, extra outfit, stroller, burp cloth, you got the baby? Let’s go.” Prepping to leave the house used to take 2 minutes, now it’s closer to 10.

5. Sound Sleep: We are blessed with a baby that sleeps really well. However, even when he does sleep for long lengths of time, it’s a different kind of sleep. Part of my brain knows that he may start crying and I don’t feel as relaxed when I sleep because of this. The whole slowly waking up and crawling out of bed thing, yeah, I miss that. Popping out of bed immediately as painful as it can sometimes be is now a regular occurrence.

Now here are the 5 things that Ollie has brought to my life that I would never want to live without.

1. Baby Talk: I love talking to people about their experiences with babies. It’s like I’m part of a special club that only people who are parents can be members. The things I’m learning from people around me has helped me bond with people I never expected to and in ways that I never imagined.

2. Perspective: There’s the whole “well, eat your food because other people in a foreign country are starving,” approach to forcing kids to live their lives with perspective. That didn’t really have a big effect on me. Having a healthy baby while knowing about the struggles other babies and their parents go through, that level of perspective is the most powerful I’ve ever felt. Every time I hear about a child suffering or dying, it hits me in an emotional way that reminds me of my blessings and provides a level of perspective that has made me a better and more thankful person.

3. Feeling Needed: Everyone needs to feel needed. Ollie needs me. He can’t do anything by himself and while this is sometimes exhausting, it’s a really special feeling knowing that someone relies on me so much. Yes, the responsibility can be overwhelming, but knowing how important I am to him, validates my life.

4. Riding The Roller Coaster: Yes, life is different every day, but when you have a baby, that difference is impossible to ignore. Every day as Ollie grows, how he sleeps changes, the way that he moves develops and every day brings new challenges. Yes, like a roller coaster, it can be a little scary, but at the same time not knowing what’s around the next turn is the best part.

5. The Partnership: Diana and I have worked on projects together. There was our wedding that we planned, raising Buffy, the European vacation and buying a house. All of these things we did as partners.  These projects had their challenges and rewards but none of those things required us to work together with the amount of teamwork and cooperation that we share with each other every day as parents. I feel closer to Diana than I have ever felt in my life.  I am proud of not only how well Ollie is doing but how well Diana and I have worked together to help Ollie.

Of course, the good outweighs the bad. That doesn’t make the bad things go away and it’s important to complain sometimes and get that stuff out of your system. As petty and as silly as the annoying things about parenthood can be, it’s important to acknowledge those feelings and work through them. The good things don’t cancel out the bad and make them disappear; they just make them seem like not as big a deal.

. . . and feeling a little hand squeeze your finger helps a lot.

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