Which came first: the chicken or the egg?
This may not be the greatest analogy, but I’ve never promised good analogies. I actually haven’t promised anything. So should you find this piece useless at the end of your read, it’s all on you, my friend.
Yesterday the solar eclipse of my life happened. I went out for a beer with a couple of girlfriends. It was just as you’d imagine: highly anticipated, and gone before I knew it. It was refreshing being out, holding a chilled bottle of Pacifico in my hand, and chatting about hilarious nothings. Until the nothings took the shape of relationship talk, marriage and kids, priorities and sacrifices. Then things became genuinely stimulating. My ears got to hear some things my heart and mind did not agree with, but because my goal was to relax and keep my blood pressure steady for a change, I simply disagreed and changed the subject, while storing the topic in my fun-stories mind-chest to be dealt with at a later time. Like now.
“The child enters your life, so he has to accommodate and adjust to your life.” As simple as that, said my well-intended friend, for whom obviously this approach worked as she has a beautiful 8-year old girl and, from what I see, a great marriage. What triggered the talk was the mention of my low desire for intimate relations with Hubbyloo very likely caused by breastfeeding. (Not only do we breastfeed, but we co-sleep as well. Gasp!) My girlfriends ganged up on me (I managed a pun! Yay for Horgaloo!) when they heard that I plan to continue breastfeeding until my son turns 2 (Gasp -asp-asp!) saying that it is irresponsible of me to jeopardize my marriage like this, when it is perfectly okay to stop breastfeeding, put the kid in his crib and get my life back. He is old enough for all these changes. Plus, “he is the one entering your life, so he will have to adapt to your life.”
Well, let me tell you why I do not agree with this. You start a relationship, how long would you stick around if they told you “You are coming into my life, so good luck adjusting to my lifestyle, schedule and irritating habits.”? I bet he’d be history before it began. Why? Because when you bring someone into your life you make room for them, you switch things around in your calendar and clear dates for love, what used to be urgent can now wait, you never thought it possible but you now pick up your socks and lo and behold!, you lower the toilet seat!
Similarly, the child does not “enter” your life, as in crashing a party and never leaving. Most of the times, that child is invited and welcomed into your life, it’s a conscious decision that you and your partner make to bring life into your life. (Even in the cases where the child appears “uninvited”, you may not have called his name per se, but you definitely laid the candy on the pathway to your house; you cannot blame the kid for barging into your life.) When you decide to invite your child into your life, you should already think about the life changes about to happen and start saying good-bye to life as you knew it. I hated watching a TV show/movie if I had not seen the beginning, and I hated even more having to pause a show for whatever reason. I now am happy if I catch enough scenes from a 2-hour long movie to make sense of the plot. Friday night was our movie night; and it was not necessarily the date night, as we would go out more than once a week. Blue Jasmine is the one movie we’ve seen in theatre in 11.5 months (otherwise I would not have recalled the title). Yes, we used to look into each other’s eyes, we used to be more intimate, we used to cuddle more, we may have even talked more; now, we pass out the moment our heads touch the pillow. Unless Copiloo is busy having a midnight meltdown that is.
And you know what? We are happy with how things are given the circumstances. We are happy with the sacrifices we consciously make for Copiloo’s happiness and comfort. We are happy to come second. That is not to say that sleep deprivation doesn’t bite us in the butt at times, or that we’re all smiles and giggles all the time, or that complaints do not sneak by and sting the other. We are humans and do have our limits; when we seem to reach them, we take the time to remind ourselves what our priorities are, that we are all in this together and that it’s all worth it. It takes a village to raise a child. It is only normal when it’s just the two of us the effort required to increase tenfold. It would be smart to reduce the work load or decrease the quality of care, but would that be right?