When I was dating a boy, his parents suggested that everyone considering marriage and children must watch “Parenthood,” the comedy with Steve Martin and a shining cast of stars. It’s funny on the surface, and full of true-to-life moments of angst, chagrin, frustration and attempts at success in relationships. In a word, it’s a rollercoaster.
This past weekend I had the great fortune of hanging out with two dear girlfriends, one of which as an 18-month old toddler with her husband. Now, I have plenty of friends with babies and friends with toddlers. My dad remarried and I got a sister when I was 16. I worked in the church nursery and babysit. I’m not a newbie to children.
But I had not yet spent a solid 72 hours in the land of parenting. (And I bailed a couple times: a long run, a shopping spree, and I didn’t put the wee one to bed). My takeaway: Wow. Full on amazement. The insanity. The laughter and joys. The new words. The smiles, the cuddles, the edible cuteness! The sheer exhaustion of the parents. The lack of sleep. The night terrors leading to long nights. The number of diapers. The amount of ‘stuff’ required for a trip to the grocery store. The constant sonar beacon of alertness. My god!
And these are educated parents who are laid back, both equally involved in parenting (and I don’t say that lightly), whose daughter was an angel who listened and knew words and ate everything put in front of her. They tag-teammed for bedtime, they have family close by, a great daycare provider mere miles from the house at a reasonable price. It is ideal parenting with an ideal child in many ways and yet…it was so HARD. Every decision they make puts someone else ahead of themselves.
No wonder we can find books like “Go the F** to Sleep” and baby clothes that say, “I only cry when ugly people hold me.” There has to be something to release the tension and keep the sanity. I am just amazed – at the selflessness, the humor, the diplomacy with which my friends managed the weekend – and their lives as parents. Wow.