Yesterday, August 22nd, 2014, my little turned two. Two! I can hardly believe it. It feels like just yesterday I was running to the hospital from my doctor's appointment in a panic to get induced. Yet, that was also a life time ago. I can barely remember that life without my sweet son in it. I pondered a lot after I got pregnant and then we both lost our jobs whether it was all worth it. I can answer now fairly certainly that yes, yes it was. It is. We struggle without that extra money, sure. But the money doesn't matter when you have a little boy crawl into your lap and wrap his arm around your neck. The only thing that has been a struggle has been our marriage. With the increased financial burden, the loss of ... certain marital activities, and the diminishing freedom that comes with having a child, the increase of strife and tension has also gone up dramatically. Especially since John, while now being Oliver's friend, still has a long way to go to parenthood.
I watched a video the other day about the taboos of parenthood, and a lot of it rang true. I figured I'd take a second to comment on those as well.
Taboo 1: You can't talk about how you didn't love your child from the very first moment.
I have to agree that this isn't the case. I didn't feel that oh my goodness love until several months later. I felt attachment and protection to him, absolutely, but I think I do fall more and more in love with Oliver every day. I hear people say all the time how they loved their child before they were born, or got smacked over the head with a bucket of overwhelming love. That just wasn't the case for me, it took me a while to get to know him in order to feel that love. And for John, I don't even think he's there even yet, affection yes, but not love.
Taboo 2: You can't talk about how lonely being a parent can be.
I know a lot of people whose relatives either offer to come stay with the new mom, or are there to help them out. This taboo isn't really for these people, but for those of us who didn't have that happen. I felt not only abandoned by community and family, but also didn't have a spouse who was willing to help. So here I was, with this teeny tiny baby, all by myself. This loneliness was amplified when I had to go back to work when Oliver was only four weeks old. No one does this. Most day care providers refuse to take a child under six weeks. It wasn't until this point that I really realized how separate from my family I am. I know that my parents ( grandparents whatever you want to call them) are there for me if shit hits the fan, but that's kind of it. I don't get invited to family vacations like my sisters do, I don't get invited to dinner or to have coffee. Oliver doesn't get invited to go and hang out with his family, no one volunteers to watch him, with the exception of one of my sisters a few times when he was sub a year old. I saw all these coworkers whose parents watched their kids during the day as they were retired, or a SAHM sister, etc. and I just didn't/don't have any of that. In addition, I didn't/don't have a spouse who is a parent. I am the one getting up with Oliver, I am the one changing the diapers, making his food, bathing him, reading to him, putting him to bed. It is still incredibly isolating and lonely. I just expected family to step up, I expected John to step up. Now that they haven't, I'm kind of over the day to day of it, but this doesn't reduce the loneliness.
Taboo 3: You can't talk about your miscarriage.
Luckily, I don't have any experience with this. I know that it happens a lot, 20% of the time. I have heard a lot of stories of people's miscarriages personally, so I'm not sure that this is accurate within my social construct. I think a lot of that probably has to do with a more generational thing.
Taboo 4: You can't say that your average happiness has declined since having a child.
I think that most people do though, yeah? Again this might be a generational or social group thing as well. I feel like most people and parents I encounter know and understand that being a parent is hard, it is work. It is a labor of love, that instead of earning you money costs you money, and in exuberant amounts. With just the child care costs from two months we could take a Jamaican vacation. And I have cheap child care compared to a lot of people. Now add on food, clothing, diapers, wipes, etc. etc. and you've got a black hole in your bank account. Sure, happiness isn't just related to money, but that is a huge part of it. The strain of being a mother alone in the world also definitely decreases overall happiness. However, as the video stated overall happiness is just a piece of the puzzle. Because my joy level? My highest highs? Out of this world, and like nothing someone without a child can understand. That break your heart make you cry happiness that comes from just the smallest of gestures. A giggle, a stroke of your hair, a new word or sentence. I cannot even imagine the joy of him writing his name for the first time, or riding a bike, or going to school. He is still so small and yet has brought me insurmountable happy moments.
My Oliver is laid back, he's easy going, and he's smart and curious and fun. He really is everything I imagined having a kid would be. Sure, he's puke all over everything at 2 am too, but if that's the price to pay, I'm gladly paying it. While I want him to have siblings, I'm personally hesitant due to not wanting a more difficult child. That's kind of selfish, but hey. Also, we wouldn't do that unless our financial situation changes dramatically, so for the foreseeable future our lovely Ol is an only child. Stubborn and hesitant to share, but ours all the same. I wouldn't have it any other way.