The Groundhog Day of Parenting
When I was in high school, I remember waking up one morning, exhausted and dragging myself to the shower thinking, Why do I have to go and have the same day over and over again (at this point I didn't have the critical consciousness to know that education was turning me into a "productive citizen," getting me ready for the "daily grind")?
I had the same thought when my daughter was born, albeit wrapped in a massive layer of terror. It struck me, this is what my life looks like now: constantly holding a baby, changing diapers, and praying for sleep (both hers and mine). And then of course, the paralyzing follow-up thought: This is my life now.
Having a child is like signing up for bungee jumping - nothing you can do will prepare you (I think back now to to the fact that I read books - BOOKS! - about birthing and parenting and babies and I think of what a jackwagon I was) and it's this terrifying immediate reality that plunges you, if you are like me, into the very depths of your being. Well, at least that's what I read in a book about what it's like to go bungee jumping. In any case, parenting is this 24/7 reality where you are responsible for keeping a baby alive (probably with very little experience keeping another human alive other than yourself) with no training, experience, pay, or praise (for the most part). Parenting is the toughest job I've had. And I've had a few.
But the weirdest part of this same-day-but-different-day is that it whizzes by in a flurry of sameness in this way that it becomes impossible to recognize/keep track of the changes. When she walked, it felt like a miracle. I was thrilled. Independence (re)gained. For us both.
A friend once said that having children was the best and worst thing that he ever did. This was so paradoxical to my child-free brain that I couldn't comes to terms with what it meant.
But now with my daughter in my life I know it means being projectile vomited on repeatedly and then unexpectedly hearing her say "Awesome." It means meltdowns and tears and the first time she tickles your chin and says "Titull, titull, titull" [tickle, tickle, tickle]. It's the strangeness of seeing myself in someone else. It's the person you and your partner become as parents which is beautiful and different and unimaginable mere years before.
This Groundhog Day is no Bill Murray romcom, it's a grind like no other. But the beauty of what you can become, what you are made to become, in the everyday repetitive micro acts of affection and disarray, means discovering the place inside you where love truly lives.