Last week was my first week of being a stay-at-home parent. This is a temporary situation as my spouse goes back to work. For the next two months, I’ll be looking after my baby, engaging her, feeding her, trying desperately not to accidentally drop her on her squishy head, getting peed upon, catching baby barf with my body, trying not to cry every time she smiles when looking at me, teaching her that farts are funny, and the most challenging: getting her to take a damn nap.
She wants to take a nap. She yawns and half closes her eyes, but like the drunk college student on your couch who keeps nodding his/her head, once you point out that she’s sleepy, she defiantly tells you, “no, no you shuddup. I’m not asleep, you’re asleeping. No, no, fugoff, Sandm-burp-Sandperson. Go–belch–go sleep, sleepoopyhead. Lemmealone.”
On the other hand, I can’t nap enough. I can’t sleep enough. What I’m saying is, I don’t know if anyone has said this before, but caring for a baby is a lot of work. (I know, shut up, parents, that was sarcasm, everyone knows parenting is hard work, but people without kids can’t appreciate what it’s like any more than a person who hasn’t had cancer can possibly relate to someone going through chemo, so there’s no point in repeating how hard it is to parent to non-parents. Yes, I did just compare child raising to cancer. Am I wrong?) When I was about to go on leave, a higher-up in my office singled me out in a meeting and said that I was going on “babysitting leave.” To which I immediately, without thinking of the consequences, responded, “well, some people call it ‘being a parent,’ but if you want to diminish it by calling it babysitting, go ahead if it makes you feel better about your choices.” Thankfully, the CFO of my company took my side immediately and diffused the situation and we all moved on (meanwhile, I will have in the back of my head these next months that I’m coming back to a sound firing, yet another reason why I feel the constant need to sleep, to escape into anxiety-riddled nightmares that gnaw at my unconscious).
This situation of her defiant non-somnambulism has revealed a stark reality of my out-of-shapedness. She’s about 18 lbs./8.16 kg. That’s like carrying around a spare car tire (not my usual Fatty McFat-Fat spare tire) around, bouncing, wiggling, moving back-and-forth, dancing like a drunk Dean Martin to try and get that spare tire to stop clawing at my throat and just give-in to her yawning tendencies. Yes, before you ask, my arms are enormous, like The Rock just injected human growth hormone directly into his arms. Then, when I set her down, she’ll often give me a wry grin, like she’s saying, “yeah, nice try, see you in five minutes, ya walking sack of cell holocaust.”
Of course she sleeps when I’m holding her in the most uncomfortable-for-me position possible. And she’ll make the greatest facial expressions. Though, I’m not sure if those expressions are more, “gotcha, dickhead,” or more like she’s having very lucid dreams about boobs and hands smearing cream on her anus (like my own dreams).
These aren’t original ideas handed down by the goddess of muse, these are the deleterious gasps of the collective consciousness of exhausted parents wheezed through the generations.