It was four in the afternoon, and suddenly it dawned on me:
I haven’t brushed my teeth today.
“There is nothing that brings you face-to-face with your own selfishness more than parenthood,” Amanda said sympathetically. “I never knew just how selfish I was until there was a little person that constantly needed me.”
Amanda wasn’t the only one that lovingly warned me about the soul-refining process of parenthood. Everyone tried. But there’s no context for understanding just how much, in the most beautiful and bittersweet way, parenting takes the life right out of you.
About a month ago, when Keegan was almost three weeks old, we took a Saturday trip to Trader Joe’s. Keegan was asleep, I needed to leave the dungeon formerly known as our home, and Kyle–well, I think he just needed to see daylight. As soon as we pulled up, Keegan started fussing, so Kyle motioned for me to go on in, solo, while he stayed in the car with the boy. I wandered around the aisles, with lots of phrases popping up above my head…
So this is what society is like…
Am I drunk?
Did I even make a grocery list?
I wonder if I’ll have time to eat that.
Is this a banana?
Am I dreaming or is this real life?
The sleep-deprivation was insurmountable at that point, and if anyone contacted me in those first three weeks, well, I’m sorry. There’s no excuse other than I didn’t know my name most days, and the physical recovery of a major surgery + a newborn that wouldn’t eat was, well, a
lot tad overwhelming. Looking back, it’s actually pretty funny. I am positive the people who passed me in the fruit section were questioning whether I was sober/alive/not homeless.
Some women waltz into parenthood, singing lullabies to their sleeping angel and asking themselves how life ever existed before him. If you are this mother, you are going to want to stop reading now. (I am so happy for you, by the way, I just know you’re probably not going to like this next part.) Will you allow me some space to be this honest? That was not me. I wish it was. Don’t get me wrong: I instantly loved Keegan. I constantly just stared at him, morning and night, putting my hand on his chest to feel him breathe.
But I also cried. Every day. Every hour. I didn’t know what was happening to me. I didn’t recognize myself. The baby blues were no stinking joke. I’m pretty sure hormones were flying out of our windows.
And then one morning, like the spring that should have arrived a few weeks ago, I woke up and said I can do this. God has equipped me to do this. I am woman, hear me mother. While feeding him that afternoon, I said aloud to my son, “Keegan, buddy, we’re going to make it.” Amanda was right; there’s nothing like it. Parenting is painfully, unpredictably beautiful. So I told him that day how hard this had been, how sorry I was for not being fully present just yet, and how much his little face made my heart swell up to the size of a hot-air balloon.
Then I went and brushed my teeth.
Photo credit to Nathan & Ashley Siner Photography & Design (www.thesiners.com).
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