Last week, Dash turned one. The time has gone as fast as everyone promised it would. I spent four and a half years desperately wanting a baby, and then all of a sudden I had one, and now all of a sudden I don’t. I’ll wean myself from the word slowly, as Dash weans from his bottle.
|Not a baby. A tiny bear. Possibly a sheep.|
|What's she looking for in that tea cup? Not a man!|
I feel lucky that I found that center before Dash came along. I had to. I had to believe the world was for me, whatever happened or didn’t happen. I’m not monk, though, or an angel. When shit doesn’t go my way, I’m really upset. And when it does—when I not only have my health and the kid of my dreams, but my lady is feeling good about life and no one in my family is in crisis and I even get to write now and then—I am happy. I might even strut a little. I’m also superstitious that it will all go away, although my semi-reconciliation with the inevitability of loss helps me appreciate what is good and not worry (as much) that I will collapse forever if things go wrong.
All of which is to say: I’m not wiser. But I have learned a few things from this year of parenthood:
1. Do not underestimate the pleasure of eating an Egg McMuffin in a parked car, scrolling through Facebook as your kid naps. This is heaven.
2. You will begin to understand how people might survive in times and places without indoor plumbing. Not that you’re ready to go on that 1900 House show or anything; you just get used to showering less and being peed on more, and you see that whatever is normal becomes normal.
|This is from when we took him to San Diego and forgot his clothes. (Kidding! We brought four bags of stuff for him. But I forgot my toothbrush.)|
4. You don’t really have to teach your kid things. You just have to stand back and let him learn, and make sure there are no knives around. If you grew up with parents who planned everything—who not only believed in hard work, but seemed to believe that anything that wasn’t hard work was worthless—this is a revelation. Humbling and liberating.
|High five, OC!|
6. It’s okay that your kid is not like you. He is a dimpled, extroverted boy who loves to throw a ball. You are a curly-haired, introverted girl who likes to read about 19th-century freak shows. He likes you anyway. It is so easy to trick a baby into liking you!
|Parenting: The joy is real.|
|It's midnight somewhere.|
9. Whereas you used to feel like this academically successful person who was mysteriously undeserving of maternal intimacy, now you wonder if you’ll ever publish a book again. The pang isn’t as intense, but basically you always need to feel bad about something.