Doesn’t even fit in the picture…
And as she has grown in size, so has she grown in strength, and with the increase in strength has come an intensification of Will to Power. Baby’s every movement has become an affirmation and assertion of her dynamic life-force, and she is discharging her strength at every turn.
Which is to say, she has started really kicking ass and taking names.
Baby has been exercising her newfound strength day and night over the past week, testing and retesting her new powers. Leg torque? Check. Spinning action, back to front? Check. Spinning action, front to back? Check. Swaddle deconstruction? Check. X-ray vision? Check. Mind control? Check.
In the process, more than one member of Baby’s court has taken a beating. Marcel had his legs gummed. Biccy was nearly (half) decapitated in a roll-by chewing. Three of Whoozit’s arms were violently yanked.
But the worst beatings were reserved for Mommy.
In a seeming effort to test both Mommy’s loyalty and endurance, Baby kept her up for four consecutive nights, demanding late night meals, wrestling matches, and strategy discussions. By the fifth night, Mommy was very nearly delusional, confusing wakefulness with sleep and sleep with wakefulness and mistaking cats for Baby and a pile of clothes for Daddy and just generally hovering in some terrible, purgatorial state.
Which would be fine – Mommy knows her place, after all, and that place is in the service of Baby – but that Mommy had an extra-maternal obligation the following morning in the form of a speaking engagement that had been arranged some months prior to Baby’s birth (and forgotten about entirely until, just two days prior, the brochure for the speakers series fell out of its place as a bookmark in one of the many This-Parenting-Book-Will-Save-Your-Life books littering the dining table.) And Mommy – however bright and engaging on matters academic she might have been once upon a time before the rule of Baby – in her incarnation as Mommy, Keeper of WonderBaby, Ruler etc, was going to need every ounce of available strength the next morning to even pronounce the word ‘academic.’
Baby, however, was unforgiving. If Baby wants Mommy awake, Mommy will stay awake. And so Mommy – and Daddy, who was unable to escape entirely unscathed – attended to Baby’s demands throughout the night, fighting off exhaustion in order to gratify Baby’s need for food, attention and amusement. And Baby was happy.
And although Mommy had to do a lecture in a state of near delirium… she was happy, too… Because she did that lecture and she didn’t suck. And because when it was done, Baby and Daddy were waiting and Baby was smiling that big shit-eating smile. Baby had posed a challenge and Mommy met that challenge. Baby imposed her worst, and Mommy survived. A little the worse for wear, perhaps, but she survived.
New parenthood, we are told, is, or should be, all about happy endings. It’s going to be rough, they say, but it’s all worth it. Labour will be painful, but oh! The beautiful new baby! Breastfeeding will be difficult at first, but oh! The many days thereafter of blissful, peaceful suckling! So many sleepness nights, so many shitty diapers, so much spit and poo and laundry, but oh, oh, oh! The reward, the reward!
This is all true – sort of. It’s true in the way that quotations from movie critics on film posters are true. When you see “…delightful comedy…” on the poster you know that what the critic actually said was something like more like “this might have been a delightful comedy if it were 90 minutes shorter.” So it is, much of the time, with new parenthood. There is beauty, bliss, and much reward. But those things come in a swamp of shit, spit and exhaustion. Utter, utter exhaustion.
So when I say, “did lecture blah blah blah… but was happy, too…,” ya gotta read between the lines of the ellipses. I did the “lecture in a state of near delirium” and was fucking miserable about it and could have cried when I realized that in addition to having forgotten to put on socks I had forgotten to get Husband to wipe the giant spit streak running down the back of my shirt and could have cried even more when I got back in the car after the lecture and Baby was sleeping peacefully and Husband said that she’d been sleeping on and off the whole time all I could think was ‘I’m missing this sleep window and she’s going to be up all afternoon and I am never ever going to sleep again.’ “But” then I looked at her peaceful little face and “was happy, too.” Because I realized in that moment that she would be needing more sleep in order to fully strengthen herself in preparation for world domination and that when the next sleep moment came I would be waiting and would sieze my opportunity for sleep beautiful sleep. “And because I did that lecture and didn’t suck…”
Truthfully, end of the day, it is all worth it. But it’s climbing-Everest-worth-it. It’s monumentally hard. You lose some fingers and toes along the way. You bitch and you curse (lord how you curse). You wonder why you started this climb in the first place. You really do.
That doesn’t change how much you love your child. Because you do love your child. So much. Seeing-the-curvature-of-the-Earth-from-the-top-of-Everest-and-feeling-the-gods much.
But I’d be lying – anyone who says this is lying – if I said that that reward comes nicely and easily. It doesn’t. But then great things usually don’t. And having a child is a great thing – in the fullest, most body-battered, mind-snapping, shit-splattered sense.
The view from the top of my Everest…