I was in the middle of cutting chicken when my 5 week old baby started crying uncontrollably because his diaper was wet or he was over stimulated or just because he felt like it—no one ever really knows. So I put down the knife, washed my hands, opened a very poopy diaper on our bed (newsflash to former self—don’t worry about that neat changing area in the nursery, you’ll never use it), changed said diaper, washed my hands again and went back to cutting chicken while listening to more crying.

Somewhere in the middle of the blur of the last few weeks it hit me that every single person in the world who has made it to adulthood has had some amazingly tender people (or person) who have literally wiped the poop out of their butt for YEARS. Think about that.

If you, like me, were raised by your birth parents, then you undoubtedly went on to become a teenager to those same parents and complain about things like not having a car, not being able to go on dates, or wanting name brand cereal. It sounds silly and a bit dramatic, but the biggest thing I’ve learned over the first few weeks of parenthood is how much parents give up for their kids. This sounds like I’m complaining and I’m not—which is the second weirdest thing about having a baby. For some strange reason, it’s all totally worth it. More on that later.

Tonight as I was working at a coffee shop, I overheard some teenagers behind me talking about teenager things. One girl was complaining about how her parents didn’t give her enough money so she was sharing with her friends how she intended to just take it from their secret hiding spot. Another was talking about some relationship drama as if she were one of the characters from Twilight (or whatever show teenagers watch now) and it kind of broke my heart.

I immediately flashed back to the days of begging my parents to borrow their car more often or complaining about them with my friends. Here, sitting on the porch of this coffee shop, the phrase “call your mother” has never felt more real. That said, I’m a writer and I know she’ll read this so…hi mom.

The reality is that all of us are able to grow up because some usually very kind adults see fit to change our diapers and feed us and wake up every couple hours to take care of us, once again, FOR YEARS. I’m only 6 weeks in and I’m already tired in ways that I can’t really explain.

Back to it all being worth it—I really don’t understand it. On the surface you give up a lot of things but seeing your child unwittingly swat at a dangling toy is about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I’m going to lose it when he’s able to purposefully smile and probably have a heart attack from pride the first time he sinks a free throw.

Babies are fickle beings that make you want to cry with both joy and anger at the same darn time. And I guess I’m just incredibly grateful that my parents loved me enough to wipe my butt and feed me* even when I was a dumb teenager.

 

How has parenting changed your life? Let me know in the comments!


 

*As I read it now, this sentence implies I needed someone to wipe my butt when I was a teenager which was not the case. Just wanted to clear that up.