I want to be very clear:
Babies are A LOT OF WORK.
My instagram feed is full of photos of our son's beautiful, expressive face, and there are pics of me and Corey looking peaceful and happy and we ARE but we are also exhausted and bleary and sometimes snappish.
To be more specific – a baby changes a relationship like nothing else. Suddenly, you have No time. No spare moments. Which can mean Nothing left over for each other.
Both Corey and I live relatively stressful lives. Our careers are so chock-full of uncertainty, we've come to take it for granted, like oxygen. True, it can also function as fuel, but emotionally it's often exhausting.
When we were thinking about expanding our family, and then in the process of adoption, most of our concerns involved the immediate needs of paperwork completion, fingerprinting, references, etc.. I imagined having a baby with the kind of colored-pencil effects that highlighted the fun parts of the picture, but then faded out around the edges to a few hatchmarks.
There were certainly many, many examples around me, and enough books, blogs and cautionary tales to wrap several times around the universe, but it's all theory until you're catching your baby's poop in the palm of your hand.
Of course, the actuality of a baby is much more amazing, too. But we all know that, right? That's what everyone says, and what all the ads purport to be true, and it's really NO FUN to talk about the dark side of parenting.
But boy, does it exist.
Someone I deeply respect said to me, You know, it's actually pretty amazing there's not more child abuse. And as hard/scary as that sounds, I agree. Any yahoo can have (and does have) a kid. Corey and I, with our many resources, graduate degrees, creativity and deep love and respect for each other, have definitely had moments of profound frustration and, for me, times when crying just feels pretty great.
For people who don't have support systems, or enough education, or financial, medical, mental resources, raising a child can seem like an impossible, inhuman task. Which can result in some of the tragedies we read or hear about.
I'm not suggesting that without the above one cannot successfully raise a wonderful human being. I'm just acknowledging the superpowers it requires to do so WITH all those things.
Corey and I are learning to bend and sway in our new lives as parents to our son. But sometimes it means we yell at each other. Or snipe. With deadly aim. Or simmer, silently, oozing resentment. Some call this The Baby Blues, but that's just another euphemism that makes everyone feel better. I prefer the This Fucking Sucks Period.
It takes time. It all takes time to learn and adjust and evolve. We're striving to hold hands tightly during this Red Rover – Send Chaos Right Over! – and it occurred to me that not a whole lot of folks talk about this. When people see you with your new baby and ask, How are you? How's it being a mommy? they don't really don't want to hear you say I'M FUCKING EXHAUSTED AND SOMETIMES I WANT TO YELL IN MY BABY'S FACE AND MY PARTNER IS DRIVING ME INSANE AND WHEN DID HE FORGET HOW TO BE A FUNCTIONING HUMAN BEING AND I FEEL LIKE A SLEEP-DEPRIVED MONSTER ON STEROIDS AND DO YOU HAVE ANY MORE QUESTIONS FUCKHEAD?????
Incredibly, thankfully, there are the moments of peace, of humor, of heart-piercing quickness when your son smiles at you. Or sleeps for multiple, aggregate minutes. Or outgrows his newborn onesies so fast you clutch at your chest. I could write reams about the wonders my son brings to my life. But everyone already does that.
This, too, shall pass. But as challenging as it is, I can already tell – part of me will miss it.
Because it is amazing.