Note: This column appears in the 5/20 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/21 issue of the Peoria Times
One of the interesting things about parenthood is adjusting mentally to the fact that you are, indeed, a parent.
This has been a slow process for me. For I am a planner. I am always thinking ahead to the specifics of how the plans I have laid forth inside of my head will play out. For example, on Monday morning I am already thinking about the possibilities, and then the details, of Friday night. I will think, “Friday is supposed to be really hot. Maybe we can go to the movies. Westgate or Peoria? Westgate. We could park in the east lot. I’m not getting the large popcorn this time -- that was too much popcorn. That new documentary about the dangers of plastic is supposed to be good. Very romantic. It starts at 7:25. We should leave by 6:30, the latest. I’ll wear my yellow shirt.”
Not surprisingly these plans rarely play out the way I had envisioned. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact that I rarely include anyone but myself in the thought process, and usually fail to consider many other determinable factors. In making grandiose plans inside of my own head, the one small detail I have most recently neglected to include is the fact that we have a child.
Don’t get me wrong –- I am not forgetting that we have a child. I am merely underestimating how having a child influences the plans I making. Case in point: After a long week of cooking and then cleaning up afterwards, we usually enjoy going out to eat at least one night on the weekend. Because I have no social life, thinking about where we can go excites me to no end. But by the time that day arrives, and the realization sets in that it will be past our little one’s bedtime by the time we are ordering appetizers, we usually end up staying in and ordering pizza. If we do actually make it out, only one of us really eats, something gets spilled, and an unwelcome guest typically shows up named poop.
Even formerly simple things become somewhat complicated. I used to be able to think/say, “Let’s go to the pool.” And we would go to the pool. Now we must organize pool trips around feeding and napping times, and even then the process of going to the pool is like preparing to embark on a three-week trip to Maui. By the time we are actually ready to go to the pool, it is wintertime, and the pool is closed. Also, it’s past her naptime.
The thing is, none of this is disappointing in any way. Even though it’s not about what we want to do anymore, all we really want to do anyway is be with her. The point is that I need to relax with the plans I make inside of my head, and consider the circumstances. But I think I am learning.
In fact, just this morning I thought, “Maybe we’ll go out to breakfast tomorrow. If she wakes up at 6 and eats then, we could leave at 8 after her nap and feed her again there. I’ll bring her pig toy in case there’s a wait. I should wear that one shirt that kinda blends in with spit-up. Actually, maybe I’ll just make pancakes.”