Parenthood is full of contradictions. I should point out, however, that the next person to tell me ‘the days are long but the years are short‘ will get throat punched. Not because it isn’t true, I understand deeply that it is true, I’m mired in it. Every time Smalls gives something up; diapers, a crib, a bottle, I exhale as if I just took a bowling ball to the belly. But it sounds so smug; a warning, a judgement – you’re doing this parenting thing wrong, you’re not getting it, careful or you’ll miss it and then you’ll be sorry.
The current contradiction, the one I can literally feel as I lie awkwardly on the sofa trying to type into my phone with the wrong hand while negotiating with Red to stop watching tv for a second and bring me his plate with his half-eaten bagel, because I haven’t eaten lunch yet, is the weight of you.
Parenting weighs heavily on me at times and causes sleepless nights and stressful days. You are so young and you need so many things done for you, all while protesting ‘me do it by myself.’ You demand, scream with outrage when it doesn’t work. Your tiny body quivers, ready to explode with emotional disregulation as you try to both venture out and stay safe with who you know. I wash, clean, tidy; I am the household maid. I plan, record, book, prepare; I am the administrator. I soothe, cuddle, fight to give hated meds; I am the nurse. I serve food nobody wants and very few eat (I wonder at just leaving bowls of pre-made mac n’ cheese in the fridge, it would be easier); I am the chef.
The weight of it, all this stuff, none of it that I particularly want to do, is intense and immobilizing. But also immobilizing right now is the weight of you; your soft body, tiny arms wrapped around my chest as if I am the only life raft in an open desolate sea, your drool dropping into the curve of my throat, as close as you can be as you nap while sick. Red likes having me near, he loves to snuggle with me in his bed after a nightmare, but it has been years since he lay on me and slept and I suspect that ship has long since sailed. Smalls, you are my last chance to feel this beautiful dead weight of smothering trust and love. And for you, for this, I gladly take the weight of it all.