My friend Tim is having a big crunch adjusting to life as a father of two. I feel his pain, to a smaller degree. One of the biggest challenges to being a parent thus far is simply the time demands. Those demands create logistical challenges, which creates stress, which creates frustration and (to be perfectly honest) occasionally resentment. Add to this the fact that no one wants to hear or really talk about that part of parenthood, and it gets even more complicated.
People ask me all the time "How's that little girl?" My response is usually "Great!" or something glib like "Growing like a weed!". I know I would get all sorts of social sanction if I said what I occasionally feel:
"Well, she doesn't nap unless you hold her. Which a bunch of books say is wrong, so we feel like we're doing something wrong. And it leads to one of us sitting on the couch holding her for two hours at a time, so that's two hours of just watching TV (which, you know, we're not supposed to do with her in the room. Maybe she's being turned into a mindless consumer even in her sleep). And while we're sitting there, holding our daughter so she'll sleep, we wish we could be doing something else, even something like cleaning the kitchen because it's so dirty, yet we also feel guilty because (again) everyone keeps saying things like 'You'll miss those days of rocking her and holding her' which, while it may be true, does not help us get the laundry done or prevent us from turning into fat slobs because we can't seem to make it to the gym."
I am sure that would not go over well.
I love my daughter more than anything except my wife. There's nothing I wouldn't do for her. But I am still adjusting to the sheer amount of time it takes to give her what she needs. I'll cop to some selfishness here, selfishness that should be shed like an old skin, a remnant of a time when I was younger and smaller. It may be just a matter of reprioritizing, of determining which of my own pursuits fit in with these new demands I've taken on. (Note to self: watching Predator on TV should be low on that list.) Maybe now's the time to take stock, to figure out what I need to carry with me and what can be left behind. My marriage and my daughter are my priority. My job, which I generally like very much, is certainly up there. It is the means to support the family, and also gives me a lot of intellectual fodder and personal validation. I am not really talking about that stuff. I am talking about personal stuff, self-centered (which is not always negative) pursuits -- hobbies, if you will -- that I've carried on in some form or another for awhile and have become part of who I am. It's time to take stock and (probably) clean some shelves.