Saturday, May 3, 2014

I get it now

One thing I think parents soon forget after having a child is what it was like to be childless.  In particular, they don't remember what they didn't know.  I'm close enough to the transition that I still have a self-awareness of the evolution from childless person to a parent.

When I was childless, there were lots of parent-things I never understood.  How can they not be grossed out by spit and poop and stuff?  Why do they talk about the kid(s) all the time?  Who cares about percentiles?  What do people do with babies?  What is it about kids that makes parents so clingy?  Why did that mom just post 5 practically identical pictures of her kid with the caption "I just couldn't pick my favorite one!"  Is it just me or are they all of the exact same thing?  Am I heartless?

Being told "Oh, just wait till you have kids" or "It's the best" or "Having kids changes everything" never satisfactorily explained any of it.

I don't dislike children, but wasn't ever one to get really excited over them and want to babysit and stuff.  I enjoy meeting and interacting with small relatives and such, but it's great to turn them back over to the parents when I was tired of them.  I guess I never really knew what to do with them.

I had these thoughts amid planning to have a child of my own. There were several times during pregnancy I'd get freaked out and ask my husband "What am I going to do with a baby?!  I don't know what to do with a baby!"  Despite that, I always wanted a family of my own.  My decision to procreate was based entirely on faith that God wants us to have families, so He'd make sure everything worked out OK.

You know how God makes things work out with babies?  One word: HORMONES.

Hormones are amazing!

I don't know how they do it, but they do their job well.  They help rewire the parent brain, actually physically change the brain, to turn people into parents.  How cool is that?!  You don't even have to be the one to actually birth the child to get the hit.  They affect the father or any other primary caregiver.

Hormones are the reason parents love a child as soon as it's in their arms.  They're the reason parents love the spit and poop and strange noises.  It's the reason I don't need entertainment beyond staring at my baby's face for longer than I want to admit, thrilled every time her expression changes.

Knowing my affection for my child is chemically based doesn't diminish the sensation at all for me.  It's still a miracle to me that humans developed this way, I'm grateful for it!  I couldn't conceive of any other way to totally and effectively overcome my inherent tendencies.  I still don't particularly care about other people's kids, but I'm totally enraptured with my own and that's what matters. Hormones are evolutionary essential.

I was so relieved to find the transformation-- the miraculous obsession-- happened to me that I saw in others.  I get it now.  I get the pride in burps and toots and poops and grunts and sneezes. I get the whining about how fast a baby grows and changes.  I get the sheer and surging joy that just happens and I don't want it to ever stop even when things are hard.  These are unexplainable sensations, so no wonder any attempt to try isn't meaningful to childless people.  One really can't understand them till the glorious hormones wash over and work their transformative magic.

This makes me wonder if more people would decide to have children if they could experience a preview of those feelings.  But then if they did, they'd be deprived of the exercise of faith needed to fully commit to the entire experience: the exhaustion and poop as well as the joy.

To the childless out there: be patient with twitterpated parents.  In a real sense, they cannot help it, and it's a good sign that nature is doing it's job to make sure that little baby is well cared for.  If you really want to understand, try it out yourself.  If you don't, just secretly block them from your Facebook feed and no hard feelings.


Baby's first day to church. She's wearing the adorable bunny outfit given
to her by our friend Rose.  The hat has long ears but they're laid back.
Russian accents abounded in our home.

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