Sunday, September 15, 2013

10:10 PM
My Brother and My Son
My brother is going to have a baby soon. He found out yesterday that it will be a baby boy. He has a name picked out that he won't share with me, but that is OK. I understand the need to keep things sacred.

He has wanted a baby for so long. Long enough that he has been talking about it well before I even realized babies existed (I was perhaps not the most maternally-minded individual prior to having my own kids). Long enough to have helped friends and strangers deliver their babies (he is a doctor). Long enough to be "Uncle P----" to many lucky children, including mine. Long enough that I hoped it wouldn't be hard for him, as it has been for many that I know.

But now "he" is here, growing and thriving in the warm belly of my sister-in-law. He has already planted a seed of love in all of our hearts and we cannot wait to me the little dude. While I am MOST DEFINITELY DONE with having my own kids, I viscerally relate to their excitement, in the same way that my body ached a little when I watched a woman stroke the bald head of her baby as she nursed him poolside today. Being pregnant and having a baby is the most personal and intimate experience I have ever had and sometimes just being me, myself, alone I feel like I have a "ghost baby", not unlike an amputee.

But in the here and now, two-plus years out of my last AND FINAL pregnancy and crawling my way out of the long tunnel of infancy, I wanted to share with my little brother some of my insights on parenthood so far:

Nothing Prepares You For How Much Will Love This Little Being
You probably think you love your wife, family, and dog with everything you have, with your whole heart and then some. Whatever. Good luck remembering to feed the dog. I think ours has gone feral in the back yard.

Being a Parent Will Make You a Better Person
There is nothing like loving a small child to increase your empathy, compassion, love, patience, and connectedness to other human beings on this planet. You will also gain some insane super-parent skills, like the ability to turn your child into a blanket-wrapped burrito, repeat nonsensical songs for hours at a time, wipe away snot with your fingers, drive down a freeway while feeding/soothing/finding-dropped-pacifier-for baby, diagnose with one sniff what the "status" of a bottom is, catch vomit with your bare hands, gracefully handle getting peed on with some frequency, and process poop with the efficiency of a short-order cook. And that is just the first month. Imagine the skill set I have developed five years into this adventure.

You Will Never Forget This Time
You will get tired. You will laugh. You will cry. You will be in awe. All of it will be bigger, and better and harder than you have ever done any of those things before. The moments will be magical and unforgettable. Until its three months later and you can't even remember how old he was when he did that AMAZING THING for the very first time. Or for that matter what that AMAZING THING actually was (i.e., write stuff down, take pictures, and never, EVER trust your brain to remember anything ever again).

It All Goes So Fast
You will want to savor this precious time with your new baby. Before you know it he will be all grown up and off to kindergarten (as old as I allow myself to imagine my daughter). You will not believe how fast he is growing and how fast this precious time is flying by. Except in the hours between 4 and 7 PM (or 2 and 4 AM) when he starts fussing and it is just you and a small, red-in-face, toothless yell machine. That's when time will graciously stop so you and your milk-stained, unwashed, unshaven remnant of yourself can soak it all in. Treasure these moments. Carpe Diem! as Glennon Melton would say.

You Will Know Your Baby Better Than Anyone
Especially the first year, when he is growing and changing daily, you will be mesmerized by him, you will be able to anticipate his every need, you will be able to soothe him like no one else. It will be fascinating to watch him learn about the world, one exponential leap after another. It will also mean that what worked for you today on the whole anticipating/soothing front may not work tomorrow and certainly won't work next week. Any time you start to get cocky, like, "hey, look at me put my baby to sleep textbook style" -- BAM! he will throw a growth spurt at you and its back to square one.

There are things that you will never do again (as far as I can tell): These include traveling light, sleeping in, being efficient, feeling unconflicted, and feeling like you are doing a good job.

There are things that you feel like you will never do again (but you will): These include travel, sleeping through the night, accomplishing anything in a day beyond mere survival, prioritizing, and doing the best darn job you can.

All snarkiness and poopy diapers aside, I am thrilled for my brother and his wife. I am even more thrilled for this baby. You don't get to choose your parents, but this lucky little guy has definitely won the lottery. All my love - MT.

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