Our family of two humans, two Australian Shepherds and two very hairy cats grew by another (tiny) human at the end of February.
Our tiny human’s name is Ivy.
Since her arrival, my best explanation about the change that occurred in our home was a shift in priorities.
Zip it, veteran moms and dads – this is our story and I realize the previous statement should go without saying. I have more to say and that should make saying the first obvious thing ok.
First of all – sleep is like currency. For the first few weeks, our sleep accounts were overdrawn in a huge way. Anyone you talk to prior to having the baby jokes about the fact that you won’t get any sleep ever again. The first question anyone asks a new parent is, “Are you getting any sleep?” It’s a safe assumption that the answer to that particular question is always “no.” Some people will respond with a tired, “a little,” but they really mean, “No. None. Zero sleep.” The sleep you are getting is nothing like the sleep you were getting prior to worrying about whether or not the tiny human you worked so hard to bring into the world is still breathing. So finding time to nap is like making a big fat withdrawal from an ATM and rolling around in your freshly acquired piles of dirty, smelly, wonderful money.
Second, finding out what normal feels like after bringing a baby home becomes very, very important. While walking around in what some parents have described as a fog, we wondered how quickly we would be able to adjust to our new dictator and all of her demands. Veteran parents assured us that we would start to feel normal again. Veteran moms talked to me about how my body would start to look normal(ish) again. We would leave the house again without the anxiety that can only be compared to the type of anxiety Matthew McConaughey felt before getting launched into space for an undetermined amount of time. “Do we have enough diapers? What about the bottle? Diaper cream? Extra outfits? Swaddle blankets? Socks? Not those socks – the other socks? Should I bring the pump…? An extension cord? Maybe we should just stay here?” We found out that each week gets more and more “normal.” Granted – it’s a completely new and different normal, but it feels right.
Cleanliness is less and less of a priority. I don’t necessarily mean personal hygiene (though those standards have dropped considerably) as much as I mean having a tidy house. First of all, with a new baby comes visitors – a lot of (awesome) visitors. Prior to Ivy’s arrival, having visitors meant a flurry of cleaning activity; this is no longer the case. What you see is what you get. We are buried under piles of Tupperware from all the great meals our friends and family brought us! There are stacks of tissue paper, gift bags, brand new outfits and toys from aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and friends. But then! Then there is the real mess – the laundry (clean and dirty) is everywhere and might never find a home. Our dishes are continually in use – never finding their way back to the cupboard. The dogs have managed to sneak off with a couple of Ivy’s soiled diapers and we’ve found them under couches, under the dining table and in the middle of the piles of aforementioned laundry. Sigh. But here’s the thing – Adam and I are both working full-time. Waking hours are precious. When we’re home and awake, we are connecting with one another or with Ivy; there isn’t much time left over for the level of tidy that happened before her. What you see is what you get at our house…and you’re going to see (and smell) a lot. Fortunately, you’ll also (hopefully) see a husband and wife that still know and enjoy each other and a happy (albeit sticky) baby.
I suppose the last priority shift I’ll share today is a deep understanding that people are important. I know, again with the painfully obvious statements, but let me explain why I’m/we’re just now understanding the weight of that statement: everyone is someone’s baby. The emotional, physical and financial investment we’ve made in our kid already has left us raw and vulnerable. We love this kid and she makes us so proud – she doesn’t even talk yet. We are one set of parents out the billions of parents in this world! Everyone is someone’s kid. What’s that you say? You’ve already figured this out? Good! You are a much less self-consumed human than I. For me, to sprout this new-found concern for other people, it took becoming the mother of brand new person. People are important and Ivy taught me that.