Enjoy Part 6!
Many non-parents believe life ends with parenting. Not end like die, just end like the You who had purpose, direction, career, style, humor, friends and romance will dissolve into an unrecognizable smear in the parking lot of Babies “R” Us. Meanwhile, two characters from a movie you never chose to watch will enter your home. These intruders (“Mommy and Daddy”) will hold your life and self hostage.
As if through the slats of the closet where the real You is tied up, you watch Mommy sit around telling friends about stroller brands, bowel movements, childbirth and Winnie the Pooh. Mommy goes to Mommy Groups. She worries about diaper rash and teething and school districts. She has nothing to say to single men. She shops for little plastic cups of chopped peaches and SpongeBob fruit gummy snacks and calls it enough of an outing for a day. When she climbs into bed she squirms to the far edge of the bed and shrieks: ” Don’t touch me! I’ve been touched all day. All I want is a little sleep!” Mommy definitely, assuredly, is not any fun.
Meanwhile, Daddy goes off, tired, to his nine-to-five job, stopping on the way home to buy diapers, frozen dinners and butt-rash cream. He comes in to find Mommy crying in baggy sweats, a bucket of board books overturned on his favorite chair, baby wipes strewn down the hallway, a Johnny Jump Up blocking his escape to the bathroom. He picks up Howling Baby, who wails louder, poops and is promptly snatched from his hands by teary Mommy. He just wants to leave, even if for an extended research project in the Sahara. Daddy and Mommy rarely look at each other’s faces. When they do, the talk about Baby. It becomes hard to do anything that might lead to another baby.
Parenting doesn’t have to be this way. Yo, your free and joyful life, and your romance can live on, and even thrive, if you know what to expect and how to tackle it.
You will talk about your offspring. A lot. It’s inevitable. Embrace this, and let it bind you and your spouse together. Parenting has a steep learning curve, but it’s one of the best classrooms about God and life you will ever encounter. Your spouse is there to help you process the day’s lessons.
It is also inevitable that your child will be with you, often right in the middle of you. Get used to it. Don’t wait for the baby to be out of the room to show your love. Demonstrate love to your spouse through any and all means available to you–repeating baby babble to elicit giggles, carrying out the trash, folding laundry. These can take on a surprisingly romantic glow amidst the mayhem.
Take your life in your own hands. Don’t allow parenting to consume you. Keep those dates coming. Swap babysitting with someone–your child really will survive without you for an hour, an evening and even a week as time passes. Or take baby with. Children travel. Newborns, especially, are remarkably like purses–they don’t care at all about culture shock, new languages or different homes as long as they’ve got you holding them. Starting young will get you trained to continue family adventures as they grow.
And don’t scrap your friendships–with other parents, with your small group, with single and childless friends. A child really is so much better off when raised by a village. One reason parenting feels like a frightening black hole before we become parents ourselves is that our culture does a rotten job of facilitating relationships outside our own life stage. We all need people besides just our own spouses for processing doubts, fears, questions, hopes and all that. Don’t become an island–let other people watch your children; host small group at your house and let the kids be part of it; don’t feel like you have to leave for bedtime, but let your kids fall asleep at a friends’ house while you stay up talking and laughing together–just like you used to.
Until next time readers, God Bless!
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