They are the Christmas holidays and more and more friends and colleagues have welcomed new additions to their homes or expect to do so soon. This made me think of my experience as a parent and I thought of sharing it for fun and preparing new and future parents for something they could face.
With pleasure, your child will tell you that he loves you, so, less than 5 minutes later, you will scream that you are bad and unfair. Exhausted children have difficulty falling asleep, and injured children miraculously heal when they arrive at the playground, so they complain that they cannot walk when it’s time to go home. Medically, hyperactive children receive stimulants to calm them. Embrace the illogical and maybe you have an opportunity. (Or no, who am I cheating?)
Where am I
At the university, we had a few days when we woke up confused with our surroundings. (Of course, for you, readers, I am sure that this is due to a night study and, rarely, to a party). As the mother of a child, when I turned around at night, I didn’t always remember the sequence of events that had begun, I lay down to sleep in my bed and woke up next to my daughter in her bed or on the floor beside her, or simply in the middle of the living room floor. I was pleased to find that everyone was fine. Oh, and if a parent says something completely crazy, you give them the benefit of the doubt that we’re sleep deprived and maybe we’re not crazy yet.
I was picky with my food. We all have standards. Mine included: prepared for me, eaten only by me, not in another person’s mouth at any time, never touched the floor or in any other place than the plate. All these changes, you’ll see.
It is nothing sacred
Between the height of small children, their new abilities in walking and then running, and the strong desire to hug you, I was hit in the groin exponentially several times by a father rather than years of the sport. Now, instinctively, I turn slightly to the side when I see a hug approaching the race.
And to be clear, children love when they hurt you. This applies to both mothers and fathers who are willing to kick, punch, fall, have a pillow on their head, etc. It’s time to channel your inner Stooge.
I’m joking in the header. Your children will want to talk about pooping and urinate for at least 10 years (even counting). To be honest, when the child is born, it is all that you, the parents, seem to be discussing. Frequency, size, color (yes), where it landed, how many times it had to change before it could exit the door. Over time, it becomes an eternal discussion at home. My youngest daughter proudly announces when she is spoiled and the biggest laughs with all her heart.
It’s time to leave
When I was single, I could get up and, if I was motivated, take a shower and go out in 10 minutes. Now, it’s an hour that prepares everyone. You have no idea
Your best friend is a joker
Imagine if the person you love deeply was also a skilled joker. Every day, he decided to give you a little joke. Change your shoes, hide your keys, throw away your tools, hide your current book, turn off your laptop before saving your work, call your boss at 8 is by pressing the speed dial button on your phone. This child you love is a natural liar.
When we get older, the child can speak and form sentences, but he will not worry about when it is appropriate to say certain things. It’s like an anti-HR robot. who calls people when they see them. In describing the trials and tribulations of paternity, no one has bothered to tell me that this includes the daughter who shouts “Daddy has a penis” from the public bathroom. And, of course, your shame only feeds the flames (see “All Smiles” above).
Much has been said about paternity that makes us aware of ourselves, and this is absolutely true. I see in my children parts of me that I like and parts I want to change. Like me, I have to accept every part of them. However, it is fascinating to see how they grow, learn and adapt, and from time to time I learn a lesson from a long time ago. During sleeplessness and intense connections where the superficial becomes less significant, the satisfaction of helping someone else fills your life and takes you to a better place.
So yes, have fun when you’re not confused, exhausted, hurt, hungry, late and embarrassed.
Marie Equi is director of the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Epidemiologic Research CIDER at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. El-Sadr also is a University Professor at Columbia University.