People tell you having a child is life-changing. I think we all understand the obvious, broad brush stroke type ways our lives will change. I get it, taking babies to a bar is frowned upon. Fortunately, the liquor store seems to be a gray area.
What I failed to fully appreciate was the small seemingly insignificant things that occur all that time that will leave me forever altered. I suddenly find myself in a sticky, chaotic, noisy little world where my convictions, ideas, and lifestyle are being challenged daily. Here’s what I’ve learned lately:
1. In Which Sunscreen Drove Us to What Was Previously Considered an Absurd Expenditure: A few weeks ago, we were in REI checking out all the outdoorsy junk. Of course it’s always fun to look at children’s apparel and we wandered into that section of the store. There, is all of its adorable glory, were miniature versions of adult apparel. There were little breathable SPF camp shirts complete with little button flaps, and zip off at the knee pants with actual working velcro welt pockets. They might have been intended for a 6 month old nature enthusiast but the prices were very adult: $30 per item. My Husband and I smugly snorted at the idea of spending $30 for a camp shirt the kid would out-grow in a few short months. What kid of people would purchase these things we whispered to one another, backs to the sales associate who was hovering dangerously close.
A few days later, I placed an order for the sunscreen our pediatrician recommended. Imagine my surprise when I realized 8 ounces of sunscreen cost $25! ($30 after shipping).
Suddenly $30 lightweight, breathable, SPF treated shirts and pants seemed like an absolute bargain. So Chris and I drug our previously smug, fiscally responsible selves back to REI and purchased one shirt and one pair of pants. Why does crow taste so damned bad and cost so much?
2. Not Enough Shit is Handicapped Accessible: I’ve been wheeling this stroller around for months now. I love my stroller. Some days I sorely wish I could take the stroller in places I can not alone get it. I never realized prior to the stroller, just how many curbs lack the little handicapped ramp; how many stores and restaurants have several steps at their entrance making it impossible for a stroller – or more importantly, a wheel chair bound individual – to enter; how many doors are a complete bitch to simultaneously open and wheel something through. While I wasn’t completely insensitive to those with physical needs greater or different from my own, I certainly took my own mobility for granted. My perceptions of mobility and accessibility and convenience have been forever altered.
3. We Are Defensive and Edgy with Each Other – A Lot: My Husband and I seldom argue. And prior to Mac’s arrival, we rarely even disagreed or bickered. We certainly did not nitpick or constantly judge one another. In fact, had you asked me a year ago if I considered myself or my husband to be overly critical, or defensive, or judgmental towards one another, I would have vehemently argued we were not.
Unfortunately, as we publicly and rather loudly bickered the entire 6 block walk to Easter Mass, I was forced to admit despite our best efforts, despite how much we love our child and one another, despite all of our stellar qualities, having a child has definitely magnified every one of our worst qualities as individuals and as a couple. We give one another disapproving glances, we make passive aggressive comments, we silently gloat when one of us can comfort the kid faster and better than the other.
Our marriage is still incredibly happy, but I sure as shit never bargained for it to feel as petty and competitive as often as it does. I can better appreciate what a strain children can place on a marriage.
4. Am I Being Cautious or Irrational? Previously I used to be able to just enjoy a walk. Now I walk with the kid and wonder. What if someone tries to rob me? What if a car blows through a traffic light and hits us in the cross walk? What if I forget to set the brake on the stroller and it somehow goes careening into the water? I wonder what would happen if he’s allergic to bees and was stung? It seems my over-active imagination provides no shortage of doomsday scenarios for me to contemplate. I do not endeavor to live a life dictated by irrational thoughts and fears but that doesn’t seem to stop me from thinking about it.
These minor revelations are going to keep coming fast and furious aren’t they?
Seems Huggy Bear, who is learning by leaps and bounds every day, is also doing one helluva job schooling me.