April 17, 2015
“Mommy’s alright, Daddy’s alright, they just seem a little weird.” Cheap Trick, 1978.
Today is our Cozette’s eighth month birthday. I could write about how fast the time goes. Indeed, I already have. Today I’m wondering where my time went. I realized that before she arrived, I had so much of it.
When you are childless, your time is your own. You want to join a kickball/drinking league? Do it. You want to go to Reno for the weekend and bet your tax refund? Do it. You want to go see the latest greatest band and then crash on a friend’s couch? Do it. The world is your alcohol-soaked oyster.
I used to spend a lot of time at a bar called Binks. I was there at happy hour and Saturday nights. The bartenders knew my name and I knew their’s. The regulars were like second cousins. It was just a place to be out in the world. The proverbial “second place” between work and home where community happens. Ah, those were the days.
Now baby sets the agenda. I thought as a stay-at-home dad I would have all the time in the world. I’d get all those projects done and read a ton of fiction. But there is no time. It’s a constant rush of activity. As I write this my wife is hiding in a long shower as I “watch” the baby. The baby is attempting to eat a book. It’s always something. I spent 10 minutes this afternoon dealing with the fact that I stepped on a turd that rolled out of her diaper.
Her first seven months we were living on her eating/crying/sleeping/pooping schedule. The sleeping time was like a gift from the gods. Maybe we would sleep, or maybe we would do some laundry or catch up on a show. Now that’s she’s crawling, everything is turned up to 10 (soon to go to 11). I got got got no time.
This kid now has two primary missions. #1 is to chomp into any electrical cables in sight. I have to think this is a prenatal memory of her first friend, her umbilical chord. As Marvel Comics as it would be to have her severe a cable with her teeth and acquire a superpower, it’s just a lot of me screaming, “No!!!” Mission #2 is to eat all paper on Earth. Goats are very hip in Portland, so she might just be trending. But I just pulled a page of the latest issue of Men’s Health out her gob so she wouldn’t choke on the workout that I wasn’t going to do anyway.
The fact that’s she’s mobile means that she could disappear at any moment, like the meatball that rolled under a bush. “Where’s the baby?” is the new chant. On top of that, she loves to pull herself up on things and practice standing. So we are busy securing bookshelves to the wall and moving TVs so she doesn’t end up like one of those kids in that Super Bowl ad.
You really don’t get much of a break. God bless trustworthy babysitters (Shout out to Delia and Gary in LA and Andrea’s family in Salem). As much as we love our little tornado, those moments away are much needed. You have to recharge your basic humanity so you can be fully present for the 24-7 job of parenting. You really can’t call in sick on this one.
A few nights ago, Andrea went out for a drink with a friend who had just gotten back from Paris. I was fine solo-ing. I was doing it 5 days a week while she was working at Planned Parenthood. But then Cozy woke up and screamed for 45 minutes straight. I flipped out, sending my wife a flurry of texts. “Where are you? You have a baby! Why aren’t you answering? You are a crappy parent!” Not good. I should have just taken a chill pill and gave the kid some mushed banana. But my mind is no longer my own. Man is the baby.
So this is a message to all you childless people out there – Enjoy the time you have. Take a nap, or a walk, or a road trip to Austin, Texas. Go out and drink and sleep under a rose bush. Be random. Make no plans. Let the wind blow you around like a dandelion seed. It’s a beautiful gift you might trade in one day for another gift. But you might be trading it away for a very, very long time.