Tuesday, February 12, 2013

From "I Understand" to "I've Been There"

Though I do promise that not every post will be dedicated to the drama of motherhood, let's face it. It is my life 24/7. Finding time to be mildly educated about current events is pointless, unless of course someone pinned it on Pinterest. In that case, I'm all over it and have already repinned anything worthwhile. (Insert, "Hi, my name is Jamie, and I am Pin-addict.) So, bear with me for now. Because this post is all about the kiddo.

There is something you don't know about being a parent until you are one. Parenthood is an exclusive club. And the only way to get membership is to be one. Because on the outside, you can certainly sympathize with the plights of a new (or veteran) parent. "I have to cancel because the kids are sick." "I can't come to your dinner party because we don't have a sitter". "I don't have time to talk right now." All understandable. Because everyone knows you have a kid to care for. I was one of those folks. I was more than understanding when one of my parent friends had something come up, but I will now admit that I always felt like I was missing something in the excuse. I was. It's called motherhood.

Only now can I truly understand canceling plans because of kids. I confirmed our home NYE dinner plans with the neighbors (to include the baby) a mere three hours before go time. Literally 20 minutes later, and for the next 2 hours, I was attempting (unsuccessfully) to console a crying screaming child. How was I supposed to know that she had this date marked as the evening to start teething and would suddenly only drink bottles around room temperature? But, she did expect me to know. I'm slow, and it took me 2 very exhausting hours to figure it out. I asked my hubby to cancel the plans I had recently confirmed. An hour before dinner. The friends were very sympathetic. But I can't help thinking that I know what really went through their heads when they got the call. It wasn't empathy. Because they don't have kids.

One of the horrible ironies of being a new mommy is the forced isolation. Sure you can take your kid to a friend's house or out in a store, but you are not ever you-focused. You are always watching the drooly-face for the slightest inkling of an impending meltdown so you can bolt before anything falls apart. Gone are the days of "feeling" conversations. Now it's all about motherly advice, kid questions, and story-swapping. The last time I had a conversation with anyone that didn't at least discuss something about what Hayley was up to or include me using a sing-song voice to talk was...before I got pregnant. And, I've come to accept that it will be that way. As have other parents in my life. But, I do miss the long chats with friends about nothing in particular, and I know they miss being able to talk over a problem that didn't involve spit up or diapers. One of my best friends had a baby a mere six weeks after I did. During the lapse when I was a new mom and she was still pregnant, I felt a bit disconnected because my problems weren't yet relatable to her life. The moment she had her baby, I knew the kinship was restored and stronger than ever. So when it took us her entire maternity leave to match schedules for a Skype call, she completely got it. Because it's her life too. But my other friends have had to adjust to call scheduling, and then cancelling, and then shortened responses from me to their issues and thoughts. Because I almost always have the aroma of partially-digested formula on my clothes and probably some bodily fluid of some sort in my hair to remind me that I'm not alone. And the timer on the call is running. Always. But this doesn't hit home unless you have a kid.

Hayley just had her four month shots. When I mention shot appointments, non-parent friends say "aww poor thing". Which is great, because I do feel so bad for her and how icky she feels. But they mean they are sorry about the pricking. The real misery, as parents know, comes after the appointment. When the rotavirus causes them to explode past the bounds of the diaper and end up with poop in their hair, under their arms, and between toes. When they try to play like any other day and whimper when they find out their legs are sore. The shot is the easiest part. It's the aftermath that will kill you. Only a parent knows. Why didn't I get time to do the dishes today? Because my kid had shots this morning.

So, I don't blame those without kids for not getting it. Because most everyone tries to understand. Some even knock on the clubhouse door. But they never get past the threshold until they have their first baby in their arms. And poop somewhere on their person. It's just the way it is. But I do have hope that someday I'll get a visitor's pass back into the singles' clubhouse. It's fun there. And almost never results in inspecting a rash for unusual color. But, I am a proud cardholder of the mommy clubhouse. And I wouldn't trade it for a clean shirt. Most days. And all I can ask it that those in the other club do their best to understand.

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