Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Winds of Change

I recently promised -- on this blog --  that I wouldn't change who I am just because I had a kid.
Well, the truth is that I HAVE changed and there's no sense in denying it. 
But I'm a firm believer in the notion that our children bring out the best in us... despite the fact that they can sometimes bring out the worst.  
I started thinking about how Doug and I have changed since having a baby together...

Notice how Doug's balls are behind the red line
Doug never really held an infant before Mackenzie came along.  Now he can't get enough one-on-one time with her.  But that's not all... He recently proved that he's brave enough to enter the lions' den; the other day he joined us at a children's gym where there wasn't another man in sight.  It was utter chaos with children and their mothers just about everywhere.  They all kind of stared at Doug as if he was a fat girl showing up at the prom by herself... 50% pity, 50% admiration.   But if he was at all intimidated, he didn't show it.  He even took a photo of the scene as evidence of his courage.  At least he didn't snap a picture of the nursing mother right behind him. 

Doug and I used to be those people who wondered why new parents brought their babies out in public settings where they might disturb others.  We were absolutely terrified the first time we brought Mackenzie to a restaurant and wondered what we'd do if she started crying, if I had to change her diaper in a public bathroom, if she wouldn't take a bottle. 
Now we don't have to worry about her screaming, the only thing that may bother other patrons is her sometimes loud bursts of babble.  Diaper changes are a cinch - even when there's no changing table in the restroom! And who needs the bottle? I've become comfortable enough to just break out the "hooter hider" and get down to business. 

I stopped going to the gym early on in my third trimester.  There was something about young guys looking at my bulging belly with disgust that really turned me off from the whole thing.  Exercising now, with the baby, is a fantastic workout... but I have to admit, it's not quite the same.  Now I wipe sweat from my forehead with a burp cloth... even if it's a dirty one.

The other day as I rolled down my window to pay for my car wash the woman behind the booth counter looked at me with both a hint of empathy and an ounce of jealousy.  Mackenzie was screaming in the back seat and I probably looked like I should've been in a mental institution.  But instead of sheepishly explaining to this person that my daughter is usually a perfect angel, I just shrugged when she made a joke about Mackenzie being such a quiet baby.  She told me her daughter was 25 and is still as loud as she could possibly be.  She then told me she missed the early days when they were always together.  We laughed and I drove off knowing that there were going to be more and more moments like this where I'm trying to get simple things done with a crying child in tow.  But every parent has been in the same boat at some point.  I'm sure some day I'll look back and wish Mackenzie was still small enough to tag along with me everywhere I went. For now... What else is there to do but laugh? 

I repeated this mantra to myself the rest of the day... like when Mackenzie launched an all-out war against the girl at the grocery store. Or when she wailed in the face of the woman at the dry cleaners.  (OK - the dry cleaning situation was a bit different, considering the owner once accidentally spit her food in my face and she's just downright scary to begin with).
I didn't even get flustered when Mackenzie continued to scream the entire car ride home. 
I forced myself to laugh... or at least manage to eke out a half smile. 
Life officially changed 8 months ago... and Mackenzie and I were stuck together forever.  The best seconds make up for the worst weeks, and simply hearing her giggle can make me forget all about an Exorcist-like temper tantrum that often sends onlookers into a tizzy.  

So yes... Doug and I have changed.  Why wouldn't we? Your kids DO change you.  They consume you.  They completely transform life as you once knew it.  And frankly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

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