We told ourselves we were trying not to jinx it when we tossed off quips in response to people’s comments about our baby.
“He looks cute now, but all that hair hides his little bitty horns.”
“His name is Javi but we call him The Monster. Come over at 4 in the morning and you’ll see why.”
“Good gawd, the first six weeks have been tough. I think we’ll be a one-monster household.”
But soon we began to see only the tough, missing the glorious growing trees because we were focused on how big and looming the forest was. Despite being surprisingly good at tag-teaming, my husband and I have been sinking lower and lower into frustration and despair, and not always at four in the morning.
About a week ago I was scouring the archives of my blogger friends who kindly documented their first months with new babies, mamas like Emily and Creature Gorgeous and Jenna. A week later – through the fog of sleeplessness and what-the-hell-am-I-doing – this line from this post has stuck with me:
Little Creature is such a good baby. I appreciate him so much.
My monster is a good baby, too, actually. He’s fussy when he’s hungry, tired, or messy, period. Our struggles over the past few weeks are because he’s overtired – still within those very simple rules, just harder to avoid and/ or fix.
He’s taken to smiling at us. To be fair, he also smiles at the wall and his hands, but us too! He has a sweet disposition and is so interested in everything when he’s well rested, adorable when he’s satiated, and really good at telling us stories. I also have to mention that he cuddles really well (ohthankgod because my husband isn’t much of a cuddler) and likes to play the kissy kissy game, leaning into my face for more when I stop.
Much like the marital beast can sometimes be fed by focusing on the negative, our experience as parents has been fogged by our perspective. I think we have good cause to be overwhelmed, but we are going to have to find the bright spots and make them so big they overwhelm the overwhelming.
In “A Walk in the Woods,” Bill Bryson writes hilariously about the drudgery of hiking the Appalachian Trail, something I’d never considered since I’m not a hiker. It sounds so action-packed, “hiking the Appalachian Trail,” but most of it is repetitive and monotonous, just one step after another for hours on end, often without the benefit of a great view to help you see how far you’ve gone or distract you.
This is like that. If we don’t quickly start noticing the beauty of a single leaf, we’re going to be very miserable for a long while.
I’m going to start documenting the stuff I’ve avoided putting here, the day-to-day changes and challenges and attempts to make things a bit better. I don’t want this to become a rather boring online diary, though, so all that stuff will be at Parenthetical Three (yup, the same place I blogged weekly pregnancy posts). I’ll be doing it for my own edification, but having spent hours desperately digging through archives for clues, perhaps some of you will find you want to do the same.