It’s six o’clock in the morning and I am awake. Apparently Waleed thought six am was a perfectly reasonable time to be up for the day. [well 5:45 but who’s counting?] After a busy nights of wakings I type these words with a cup of tea and bleary eyes and remember an article that sparked great amounts of controversy about parenting and the research showing that happiness, as measured by parents, on a daily basis is substantially lower than those who are not parents. As I sit here [and then stand to run over and prevent him from chewing on a wire, or my shoe, or climbing an unsafe pillow structure] I am tired. I am sleepy. I am worried this early morning rising might become a new routine. And whether a play yard might be limiting or empowering. And whether the apple sauce I made can defrost in time. And. And. And. I don’t sound too happy do I?
My life has changed a lot since having Waleed. I can’t just hop into the car and go somewhere as I once did. I have post-baby pounds to lose. Our yearly vacation has been otherwise used up. I don’t sleep like I once did. I wipe up baby poop and snot and spit up. And every other obvious observation of motherhood you can imagine.
So based on the research, the empirical data objectively? Why parent? Logically, it makes no sense. Our bank account will take a hit- college, weddings, cars, clothing- expenses pile up with children. As do sleepless nights. And poopy diapers. And rushed trips to doctor’s offices. And then the tantrums. And the arguments. And the worry. And the wondering what will happen to that career you worked so hard to create. And unlike most other things in life, your kids are there forever- there is no return policy- no dropping out. So why do it? For the cuddles, the kisses? You can cuddle a puppy and watch them do cute stunts minus the college savings account, and demands to have your car keys at some distant point in the future. And yet dog-owners often become parents too. So why? Why do people desire parenthood?
The interesting thing is that even though in the writing of this post I have rescued a shoe from my son’s mouth approximately seven times, and slept approximately three hours last night, and am up at the ungodly hour of six am. . . I wouldn’t rather be anyplace but here following my son as he tries to deconstruct the house, and my cerebral membrane.
I love it. I love being a parent. I love the messy parts of it, the ugly parts of it, the beautiful parts of it. Why? I don’t know. I can’t objectively tell you why, but its the truth. I love my husband deeply, but that does not mean we sat and gazed at each other in adoration every day of our marriage. I love my parents but there were certainly, ahem, points of contention growing up. That’s life, that’s relationships, that’s people- they require effort, investment, and sometimes its not fun- sometimes its difficult, but that doesn’t mean you wish you did not have them in your life.
Happiness is different from love. I expected this to be hard. I didn’t think I’d grin and spring from bed at 3am for a night feeding. I never held illusions otherwise. I never did this for a never-ending high. And yet there was nothing I wanted more. And now? There is no place else I’d rather be. And maybe like this article said, as parents we’re the biggest addicts out there, hooked on those small moments of transcendent joy, those brief glimpses of heaven in his smile, or his laugh- like junkies. I’m not sure but I am okay with not knowing the answer to that. This is hard. This is wonderful. This is sleep-depriving. And soul-building. I love him. I am grateful.
Now pardon me while I get myself that second cup of tea.