Last year, I made one resolution: to give birth to a healthy child who wouldn’t grow up to kill and eat people. Thus far, I’m willing to say I’ve succeeded. This year, my resolution is again Gabe-centric: to accept the limits of what I can do with our time together, and to enjoy what I have.
Being in school is hard. Being in school and keeping a household and family running is harder. Doing these things and being the primary caregiver for an infant? Well, that’s why there’s wine and Zoloft. I spent the last three months of 2011 alternately fretting, raging, and crying, because I couldn’t do what I felt I “needed” to do while being a good parent. I couldn’t study during the day, I couldn’t be involved with campus activities, I couldn’t keep my house in the state I wanted it to be.
Then, over my Christmas break, I made a conscious decision. I have a limited time to enjoy spending the day with my kid, and with careful time management, I can do everything I need. Instead of attempting to watch lectures while playing with him, I watch them at night, or listen to the MP3 while driving. When I’m up in the middle of the night for the third time in a five-hour period (hello, last night), I have class reading on my Kindle. I may not be sleeping, but I’m getting something done. When we’re up in the morning, Gabe watches me collate my articles to read that night after he goes to bed. And in between printing those articles and reading them, I turn off the “school” part of me.
I am forcing myself to live at his schedule – the 9:30 a.m. nap (time to lie down and read), the 45-minute dinners (half of which end on the floor), the 1 p.m. doze, the 3 p.m. nap. And because I’m not obsessing over lost productivity time (which, honestly, would have been spent at least partially on social networking sites), I’m able to observe and enjoy my kid without effort, and it’s delightful.
I’ve abstractly been able to understand what people say when they say they’re in love with their child, but now that I’m not preoccupied with school, I think I get it. We spend all day together, never very far apart. I’m the first thing he sees in the morning, and I’m always greeted with wiggles, belly laughs, and a smile. We lay on the floor together, we go for walks together. We make each other laugh, we spend the day looking to the other for social cues. He is the constant recipient of spontaneous embraces and snuggles. With each step of his evolution, from “outdoor fetus,” to “baby,” and now to “little person,” I’m happier to be with him, and I’m happy that I made the choice to have him in my life.