Monday, March 17, 2014

Parenthood: Week 42 – Everything Is Harder With Baby

Walking a dog is harder with a baby, making dinner is harder with a baby, folding laundry is harder with a baby. Even putting on pants is harder with a baby.

Things that once took minimal effort become productions when you have a little human being that you are trying to take along for the ride. However, this doesn’t stop us parents from trying, almost against sanity to go out and do things.

I don’t blame any parent who has an afternoon with his baby for staying inside the entire time. For the past couple months on Thursday afternoons and evenings I’ve had Ollie to myself. While I have ventured outside of the house during some of these Thursdays, the majority of the time I spend at home.

A lot of this had to do with the fact that on average it was around 20 degrees Fahrenheit (this isn’t an exaggeration). However a big part of this has to do with storing up enough "crazy" to actually take Ollie out to do something.

Taking a baby out to do an activity or an errand takes a lot of planning and a willingness to take a chance. You have to take your child out during a time after a nap and make sure that you get back before he or she needs to go down for the next nap.

Then there are feedings. Whether, it’s breastfeeding, formula or solid food, you need to think about the timing of this and carefully pack so that whatever the child needs to eat can be made available before the meltdown over hunger occurs.

During the summer and the fall, there was the diaper bag that needed to be packed. Now there’s winter clothing. To put it quite simply, winter clothing crushes the spirit of parents. When it’s below freezing, everything you do with a baby becomes even more difficult.

My car is parked outside. So I need to go warm-up the car. Then I need to get Ollie dressed in his winter clothing. There’s the hat, booties, jacket or the coverall. There’s no indicator on any of these articles of clothing at what temperature these pieces of outerwear are most appropriate, so it’s kind of guessing came. The whole “wind-chill” thing only makes matters worse.

After getting Ollie dressed in his winter gear, a process that Ollie despises, I carry him out to the car. If the car is warm, then I take him out of his winter gear and put him into the car seat. If the car isn’t warm yet, then I put him in the car seat, all dressed for the sub-zero temperatures. If I do this, I will inevitably have to stop somewhere after the car has warmed up to take Ollie out of his car seat, remove his coat, hat and whatever winter gear I put on him and put him back into his car seat.

Why? Because Ollie hates being hot.

Apply this whole process to leaving the car and going into a store and also to leaving the store and getting back into the car. This is exhausting and the fact that Ollie strongly dislikes almost every step of this process only makes it worse.

Even with all of this planning and work, things can go and will go inevitably wrong. No matter what you pack in your diaper bag a situation will arise when you need something that you don’t have and for no reason that you can discern your little one will just not in the mood for what you are selling.

You have to be pretty crazy to go through all of this simply to get out of the house for an outing. The thing is that if you don’t go through all of this you will in fact actually go crazy for not getting out of the house.

I’m a homebody. I can spend all day in the house and not feel cabin fever. However with Ollie I feel different. Part of this has to do with the fact that when you spend five or six, or even three hours with a baby, you quickly run out of things to do and nothing eats up time like going on a walk or going to the store. Even though I may not feel a need to get out of the house, Ollie probably does and if I don’t, I start feeling guilty for not being a more adventurous dad.

So the other day when I had Ollie to myself, I took him to Home Depot. Isn’t that one of the things dads are suppose to do with their sons like go to a sports game? While I have little to no interest in sports and I needed to buy some screws, I didn’t feel I was trying too hard to fit fatherhood stereotypes that just don’t fit how I define myself as a man.

It was only slightly below freezing, which was helpful. Ollie hated getting ready to go as much as I predicted and it wasn’t until we were actually in the store when he started to gaze around and enjoy his new surroundings.

It was pretty quiet that day and it was a lot of fun walking around with him strapped to my chest in a baby carrier. And then he started whining and screaming. Oh yeah, I forgot to take off his jacket that I had put on him for the walk from the car to the store. After getting that off and putting him in the shopping cart, he was much happier.

I found the things that I needed and after checking out, we commenced the whole winter clothing process and finally got home.

There’s a great feeling of bonding being at the store with him and even though it was only a short outing it felt good that I had made it through all of the struggles to get him to the store. It was nice to get something off of my to do list and the many people who smile at Ollie when we walked by made me feel proud of Ollie.

Being a father is constantly doing things for your household, your job, your wife and your child. There’s always laundry and there’s always dishes to be done. In this swirl of responsibility, there are moments when you reflect on how much you got done and it feels great. It’s like running a race and getting to the finish line.

Whenever I take Ollie out with Diana and especially when I take him out by myself. I really feel that sense of running a race. There’s the excitement before you start and the many tribulations that occur before you get to the finish. Doubt creeps in that required perseverance. Mixed in with all of this are the highs and that amazing feeling when you get to the finish line and realize that you did in fact take your son to Home Depot and buy a screw and some paper towels

Everything in life worth doing, takes a little crazy to accomplish. There are always more logical reasons not to take your kid out on an adventure. If you don’t ignore the logic, and the inevitable drama, the unpredictability and potential for complete failure, you will do a disservice to your kid and yourself.

If you chose to be parent then you did that ignoring all of the things above and if you love yourself and your child, you continue this mindset. Because love makes you crazy and all it takes to remind a parent of that is a smile, the wrinkle of a little nose and the memory of the feeling you get when you arrive home after an adventure with your baby.

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