September 30, 2010

Beyond Here Lies Madness

I have to be honest. I'm basically faking my way through this whole parenthood thing. Oh sure, I may look like I know what I'm doing, but behind the cool facade of confidence I radiate is a terrified doofus who is mentally screaming "AHHHHHHHHHH!!!" 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

My son is now officially one year old, and when I look at him I can't for the life of me figure out how he's still alive. Despite all the odds stacked against him, my wife and I have managed to feed him, regularly put clothes on him, bathe him nightly and get him to bed at a reasonable hour.

In short, I've managed to do things for my son that I routinely fail to do for myself. I mean "bathe nightly?" If by "nightly" you mean "maybe shower once every three days." "Regularly putting clothes on" for me means wearing the same pair of pants for a week, and my eating habits have deteriorated to a point that most rats would look away in horror come dinner time.

I'm not sure, exactly, when I descended into such a state of human disaster, but I'm pretty sure it was during the stretch last winter when my son woke up crying every 20 minutes at night because he couldn't find the pacifier that had fallen from his mouth. After about a month-and-a-half of Guantanamo-caliber sleep deprivation, my mind simply decided enough was enough and started stripping away the non-essential life activities so it could concentrate on maintaining a heart beat and regular breathing. Everything else became extraneous nonsense that got in the way of precious sleep.

In those rare moments when I can engage my brain and actually think for a change, I notice how much things have changed in a year. The house, for example, looks like a small nuclear device detonated in a Toy-R-Us store. There are toys EVERYWHERE, and at some point my mind just decided that was the natural state of the world and I shouldn't think too deeply about it, lest I sacrifice further sleep. For example, I recently stepped on a Rubik's cube on the bathroom rug, and I gave it no more initial thought than if I had stepped on a wash cloth; a Rubik's cube seemed perfectly appropriate in the bathroom.

Even discussions with my wife have taken on a surreal quality that defies the conventions of polite society. We've had serious disagreements about whose turn it is to change a diaper, and I've found myself trying to make the case that I've changed the nastiest diaper ever, not her. That's just a plain old stupid thing to try and establish because, seriously, every single diaper is nasty in its own unique way.

And so now I look back over the past year, and I wave wistfully back at the man I used to be, while at the same time confronting the disheveled specter looking back at me each morning in the mirror, and I think "Only 17 more years to go."

And then I go change a diaper, with just the hint of a tear in my eye.

Posted by Ryan at September 30, 2010 11:24 AM | TrackBack

definitely one of the things that terrifies me about being a parent and why i have thus far chosen to not be one. i have a hard enough time getting myself out of bed, dressed and to work every day (showers? sometimes.), let alone if there was some small human running around also needing to be kept alive and functioning. i know, i know, MOST of humanity works this way - no one is ever fully prepared for parenting. but some (most?) of us are totally unprepared and it really is mind blowing that every one just somehow makes it work, for better or for worse.

Posted by: amy.leblanc at October 6, 2010 03:27 PM

I am hitting 25 soon, and still single. I still think choosing to get married is the dumbest thing a guy would do to himself. And of course, choosing to be a parent is simply worse. To me, when you put on that ring, you put a lifetime promise of being with that person for the rest of your life - in other word, prison for life! You are taking one tree, but giving up the entire forest out there.

And sure enough, I fall into the same category, who cannot seem to be able to take care of my own self. Not showering daily, keeping the same clothes on for days...etc.

Yep, only (at least) 17 more years for you to go with the boy... AND that's assuming if you don't have anymore coming. But I guess you can find rewarding and positive things for being both a husband and a father... you have made your choice, just stick with and 17 years would just be a blink of eyes!

Posted by: Terry at October 8, 2010 09:47 PM
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