Seeing the sunrise was one of my goals during my seven-week leave from work, though when I originally made that pledge I expected to be holding a Pacifico and a remote–not a pacifier over a crying baby while rocking him to sleep.
Three weeks into fatherhood I can officially confirm the cliche: my life has forever changed, and I notice it most in my perception of time. Morning, which used to begin with a shower, stretching and a cup of coffee around 6 a.m., now starts around 11, only instead of a warm stream of bath water slapping me awake, it’s a body temp blast of baby piss and the ear-stabbing cries of a boy who definitely does not want his junk exposed, or cleaned with a wipe–even if that wipe has been sitting in a warmer. (Yes, we own a baby wipe warmer purchased after I said to Jaime, “If someone held a cold cloth on my dick, I might cry like I was dying, too.”)
The baby-time conundrum was discovered within our first few days of parenthood when we were waiting on line at Starbucks for Jaime’s first and my second cup of the day at 4:30 p.m., just showered and ready to start our afternoon–errr… evening–of running errands and hoping to stop somewhere for lunch, if the baby cooperated.
Unfortunately, babies cooperate like celebutantes–only when there’s something in it for them. In Paris Hilton’s case, it’s expensive purses and cocaine. In my son’s, it’s something just as powerful, at least in his eyes: the nipple. Keep him fed, and he’s happy, yet feeding him is just a part of the guesswork that goes into interpreting what a baby wants, so he’ll stop crying and go the fuck to sleep (Now I understand why that book is so popular!), permitting Jaime and me to do adult things, like showering and eating lunch closer to noon than midnight. Is his diaper dirty? Does he need a burping? What about the pacifier? Maybe he’s cold–where’s his hat? The answers aren’t hard to find–it’s just figuring out which one without upsetting the baby further in the process.
And we still haven’t even strapped him into the car seat! Or changed into clothing not accessorized with spit-up!
After three weeks of infrequent showering, irregular meals and getting pissed on so often I’ve thought this isn’t my son it’s R. Kelly’s, the hardest part about parenthood is adjusting to a new schedule–usually one that begins and ends with a pile of poop–and shifting expectations of myself. Each day bleeds into the next, and priorities are tethered to whether or not a 10 lb. blob of cuteness is relaxed or irritated by sitting in a vibrating seat playing “Wheels on the Bus” for the billionth time. What took five minutes can now take five hours, or five days, (I knew there was a reason why my new bathroom mirror has been leaning against the bathroom wall–instead of hanging from it–for almost a week now.) and for someone like myself who thrives on structure and results (Or “getting shit done,” as I like to call it), having a baby means I’m no longer in control, a feeling I’ve spent the last ten years of my life trying to shoo. Bloody nipples and Haagen Dazs can’t stop me, but a little baby runs my fucking life right now.
At the very least, I can rely on the sun to rise each day, although I hesitate to call it morning since it might actually be my lunchtime.