One of the most surprising things about being a new dad – about being a new parent – is how little time there is. To do anything. Suddenly, the most provincial of tasks becomes an insurmountable Everest. Want to go to the bathroom? Nope. Make yourself breakfast? Forget about it. Spend like 5 minutes doing something, anything, that you simply want to do? Nope.
That’s because a little person now controls your life. It’s like having a tiny robotic alien implant. Arms jerk awkwardly, joints twitch akimbo, a magnetic force draws you to itself. You submit. You’re now under the control of Imperial Mind-Lord Abraham. And you thought this was your idea.
This is the 2 month mark. You are simultaneously needed constantly and not needed for hours on end. Stray not far, young man, from the crib. And make the most of your time, ye virgins, when you have it. A diaper will need changing at a moment’s notice, a bottle dispensed. This may occur every four hours, or every twenty minutes. That’s why you can’t rest for a minute. Because if you do, you don’t eat, or poop, or sleep, or work. You don’t get anything done.
Now, there is another way of looking at all of this: this is your work, your play, your joie de vivre. Your raison d’etre. And that’s how I enjoy looking at it: this little poop-producing factorette is all of these things combined.
This is the 5 month mark. Baby has made strides to sit up on his own, grab objects and pull them toward his mouth, roll over, coo and caw and cackle. Things are just getting started, food has become a thing of interest, as has that thin brick of glowing plastic mom and dad are always stabbing at with their bony forefingers.
There is still so little time for self-care. I can barely manage to take a decent poop. Anyone who has ever cared for a child knows what I’m talking about. Anyone who hasn’t, well, they might think like I used to: “Wow. These people [parents] are suckers. C’mon, how hard can a baby be? Just poke a pacifier in that noise-hole and strap them in a chair.” I would love to take a time machine back to each instance I thought or said something like that: I’d slap my ignorant self silly.
The baby is up now. He’s only been napping for 20 minutes. He has a cold, and a nasty, biting cough that keeps waking him violently from sleep. I’m glad I don’t have a cold as well: this whole situation would be nigh impossible.
This is the 8 month mark. He is wandering around the house, a vagabond, a rascal. He crawls on all fours, a flurry of movement and noise and drool. He pulls himself into a standing position on anything his hands touch: knobs, couch cushions, toilet paper holders, kneecaps, shelves, cat doors, the cat, the dog. He is a maniac, investing everything he contacts with a layer of slobber, a serious, critical mouthing over, once, twice, thrice – as many times as it takes to get the essence of the thing. He is a voracious eater of foods of all kinds, he is an absolutist when he is finished with the meal. His tray becomes the palette of some deranged reclusive impressionist painter. I do my best to dodge smashed berries and hummus. He waves his arms about him, screeches incoherently: he is daring the world, the gods to defy him, to defy his magnanimity, his power, his omnipotence. He looks me straight in the eye, grins like the devil, and slams his sweet potato forehead into the bridge of my nose.
When I put him in bed for the night, he fights me tooth and nail. Don’t take me away from this marvelous place, this wonderment earth! Sleep little one, sleep. It’ll be here when you wake up, I promise. We’ll do all of this madness over again tomorrow.