It unfolds so slowly.
Maybe you had a rough pregnancy. A rough birth. A hard time breastfeeding (if that’s what you wanted to do.) Postpartum depression. Maybe your baby was sick a lot. Maybe your baby cried a lot. Maybe your baby never slept.
As your whole being crumbles to the needs of this helpless human, in those moments you don’t have time to think about it. To dwell on it. To consider what the rest of your life might look like.
Maybe because you realize that no two days are the same. There is no forever routine. No guaranteed anything. No predictability. If you’re lucky, you’re the type of person that can live with that uncertainty, to believe that for every down there is an up.
But as things get easier, you have a little more time to realize how a piece of you is gone. Replaced by a new part of you, permanently affixed, sucking out your energy and your thoughts and any shred of patience you may have had.
Your body is different, perhaps permanently fucked up. Your hormones have no diagnosis and no cure. Your brain has been implanted with a state of inexplicable and unfounded worry. Your self worth is now being judged by an entire new set of expectations. Aging has taken on a whole new meaning. But don’t fret. You still care about your weight and your money problems, your career and your lot in life.
There is absolutely nothing that could have prepared you for any of this and yet you still wish someone would have told you.
The worst parts of you don’t go away. Your mood swings. Your mental health problems. Your inability to think much past thirty or so days.
They all seem to eclipse the times you are smiling and content, rested, calm, even, predictable, stress free, joyful, engaged, interested, thoughtful.
Something inside of you is clawing at your skin to be alone, to run away, to have a kind of loneliness you can turn off and on. But it’s here you will always come back to and here you will always stay.
This foundation is probably your sanity, your cornerstone, your bright spot.
Your relationship is a shadow of its former self, one that you only see on the brightest of days. Not because the feelings are any less, but that every single thing around you has changed, has been disrupted, has been prioritized, has been decided. You are both surviving an exhaustion that’s pointless to acknowledge.
You move between narrower lanes with less off ramps. You climb, but you can’t see the top.
You want to know what parenthood is?
You want to play with it. It keeps you warm. It makes things taste better. It’s beautiful to look at. It comes in different colors, sizes, and shapes. It’s powerful and hypnotic, magical and mysterious.
And it burns.