No one can adequately explain what it means to become a parent.
If you’ve seen “Marley & Me” — which I don’t recommend for pet lovers — there is a scene in which Jennifer Anniston’s character is losing her mind trying to juggle the needs of her children with her own. Her husband doesn’t know what to do to make things better and gets the brunt of her frustration. I remember feeling like Anniston’s character when my daughter was a baby.
I always thought I had an easy baby compared to other babies, but my daughter had her uniqueness that made my life a lot harder. From the beginning, Maggie didn’t like to sleep in a crib, so we created a makeshift bed for her in the bottom of her pack-and-play. That was after the purchase of a $500 crib since it was our first child.
Only someone who has tried to get babies down can tell you how hard it is to get a baby from your arms asleep to the bottom of a pack-and-play without waking her up. It’s a physics problem. She woke up more times than not, and we would start the process all over again on many, many blurry nights.
My daughter also wouldn’t let me sit down when I held her. Yes, we bought the top of the line glider chair before she was born, and it too, just collected dust. I hoped for many special moments of rocking her to sleep in that chair, but the reality is she would scream every time I tried to sit. She had to be held standing up and that makes for one very tired momma.
My favorite phase came when she wouldn’t allow me to put her down for even a second for the entire day. She’d scream if I put her on a blanket so I could pee or attempt to make something to eat. So, I learned to do things like pee with a baby on my lap. That’s a little awkward, but all part of the joy of my parenting experience.
During that phase, I remember staring out at my driveway around 6 p.m. for my wife to arrive from work. It always seemed like it took forever, but as soon as she walked in the door, I would hold out the baby with pain in my muscles and tears in my eyes saying “please, just take her.”
I love my little girl more than life itself, but it was difficult caring for her every need while ignoring most of mine. On top of it all, I was supposed to be working from home the entire time. I would do the conference calls on mute, type one-handed e-mails, work late into the night, stress about what I wasn’t getting done and start all over again the next day.
The first 18 months of my daughter’s life are a blur. I look back at photos of when she was that small and long to have just one day with her again when she was so tiny and precious. I can barely remember her as that cute little baby.
I’m ashamed to remember how when she was so dependent on me, I just wanted her to get bigger and less dependent. I wanted her to walk so I didn’t always have to carry her. I wanted her to talk so I could know what she wanted some of the time. I wanted her to start school so I could have more time to focus on my work.
Maggie is four now and I can’t get that little adorable baby back. She is even more adorable now, weighs 40 pounds, offers lots of opinions and doesn’t need me nearly as much. Just the other day she begged to go over to her friend’s house to play instead of spending family time with her moms. My wife and I were a little hurt, but the reality was we both had work to do, so it was okay. We know she is a social child and this is just a hint of what’s to come.
Parenting is an awesome experience and one that goes by quickly. As one friend told me, you go through some very long days and quick years. It is tough, but most of us survive wearing an invisible badge of honor that only other parents can see. I wouldn’t change having my daughter for anything, and I wholeheartedly recommend parenting to anyone who enjoys sharing your life with a real live little angel.
Want to learn more about parenting? Join the MEGA Family Project May 16 for Creating a Family, a spectacular day of learning about the options and issues facing prospective LGBT parents. Read more about the event in Project Q Atlanta’s new interactive community calendar.