On Saturday, Jane didn't take a nap. A day with no nap for Jane usually ends in a frenzied storm of hyperactivity, a going from room to room, opening drawers, unfolding the week's newspapers, scattering bits of life around the house in an attempt to fight the tiredness. So, by the time her grandmother came over to watch her so that the husband and I could get a little dinner/movie action (a rare occurrence, and when I say rare, I mean about once every two months), the house was in such disarray that it was hard for me to summon the energy and willingness to even try a night out. The child was fussy, snotty. There were no dinner options besides fish sticks and blueberries. We'd needed to go grocery shopping at least two days prior to this.
Our dinner out was quiet. oth of us fretted about the known difficulty of putting Jane to sleep after a no-nap day. She had a rattly cough that just wouldn't quit. She was stuffy. Would her grandmother remember to put honey in her milk? Will bath time calm her down?
It wasn't until about halfway through American Sniper (a really good film, by the way, that I feel is undeserving of such harsh criticism... and I'm a proud American liberal saying that!) that we both gave in to letting go. We were about 15 minutes into our critical analysis of the film and the incredible transformation of Bradley Cooper when we entered the house. It was a disheveled mess. Homemade cards of hands and distorted figurines were taped to the kitchen floor. Pieces of her "fishy game" were scattered about. It was already 9:30, and we could hear that grandmother was still trying to calm Jane to sleep. And all of the freedom of the last two hours turned again into anxiety and regret. "We should've just stayed home," I thought to myself as I bent down to begin picking up the mess of the evening.
This is just one anecdote of the difficulties parenthood brings. Not the child herself. She is our sweet love, the manifestation of the best the two of us have to offer to world. No, it's more about our time. So many people will criticize us for not hiring a babysitter more (since we live away from our relatives), but what I think so many don't understand is that when you become used to a certain routine, you can gauge exactly how things are going to go based on the day's circumstances. It is not Jane's grandmother who is to blame for not getting her to sleep or letting the house become a mess. We knew when we left that is was a sh*tstorm of a situation. This is just what happens when there is no nap.
What is difficult to accept is what my husband said on Sunday as we were hashing the weekend's events out... everything is just harder. That doesn't mean it's worse, exactly, though sometimes it sure feels that way. But things are harder. Events in our lives have to be planned to a tee, and when those plans go awry (no nap, or sickness, or the suggestion of a new toy, or a battle of clothes for the day), things can get very difficult very quickly.
And sure, a dirty house and an ill, sleepy child is not the worst thing in the world and can certainly be remedied, but when you are in the moment when all around you seems to be chaos, it can feel like the worst thing in the world. And you often need days to put it all back into perspective.
The hubs said something on Sunday that I think a lot of parents feel, including myself. Before we make the decision to bring life into the world, we all know it's going to be a huge pull on our time. We know we won't get as much sleep. We know the love of this one new person in the world will be so powerful and crushing that it will affect every decision we will make. But, what we also sort of felt when we started this game of parenthood is that, at some point, things would go back to the way they were before her. We'd be able to work late if we needed to. Or take a completely spontaneous camping trip. Or watch television all afternoon and evening (and by television, I mean more Sex and the City than Dora the Explorer). Or we could just catch up on emails. And, before the critics say it, I understand that years from now I'll be begging for the cluttered house and the nights beside her bed. I will miss these days so much. But, as Jane ages, it's becoming more and more clear that things will not be like they were before her for a long time, possibly even never. And, we are okay with that. We knew it when we signed up. But, we are also not okay with it some days, and last Saturday was one of them.