When You Assume

When I was in high school, I had a boss that used to say "When you assume, you make an ass of you and me" - and I'm reminded of that now as I realize how inaccurate all of my assumptions regarding parenthood really were.

I never thought I'd want to move to the suburbs. I love our trendy neighborhood with our eclectic house and couldn't fathom leaving it to have a typical home in a typical subdivision behind the typical shopping center. Now we find ourselves beginning the process of finding a new home and putting ours on the market. Somewhere along the way over the past four months, we've determined that it's more important to be near a Target, new schools and child friendly chain restaurants. My family lives in a suburb north of where we are now, and it makes more sense to be near them..Merrill's pediatrician is in the same suburb, etc., and so the logic goes.

I always thought having a child meant some changes in your world, but that as a whole you simply had a third person in your midst as you went about your normal routines. Shopping trips would only mean the addition of a stroller, dinner reservations would be for three instead of two, and travel would simply require a second suitcase. Oh, if I only knew how wrong that theory would prove. Even the most mundane tasks such as personal hygiene, cooking, and cleaning become small feats to achieve.

The world I created in my head while I was pregnant included a marriage that would only be enhanced and strengthened once this sweet little baby entered into it. While it is empowering to look at your partner and know you've joined together to create a life, and that you're working together to shape a person's identity, it's also terrifying and paralyzing at times. I've felt more fear than I thought possible in respect to how our relationship may suffer as a result of putting our needs on the back burner and having our bond become an afterthought at times. There is far less time for "we". The conversations revolve around her needs and milestones and the interaction becomes a series of tag-team events. Fatigued bodies and fried minds lead to little in the way of quality communication and affection. It's easy to forget that our love for each other is what got us here in the first place - and it's all too important that we maintain what we have. From the time we began dating, we never really had to work at anything - the relationship flowed smoothly, and falling in love was easy. Things progressed at a comfortable pace, and conflicts simply didn't exist. The realization that we are now in a place of needing to stick together and work at maintaining our bond is unsettling at times.

There are also things I assumed I'd feel that are inaccurate only in the sense that I didn't fathom how deeply they'd go. I knew I'd feel protective towards this baby, and I knew I'd do everything in my power to ensure her safety and happiness. I didn't anticipate how fierce and raw the emotions would be. I never saw it coming...never predicted the intensity of my feelings for her and never prepared myself to be stripped down to the bare bones.

The past four months have been a roller coaster of emotional and physical upheaval...and it's been the most amazing, unreal, and magical ride of my life.


An Open Letter

Since I've had Merrill, I've been incredibly humbled on a multitude of levels. I've been put in my place more times than I can count, have seen the error of my ways, and have learned - perhaps too well - how to say I'm sorry.

I apologize to any mother I ever judged. I never understood how difficult it is to get yourself and a newborn together and out the door without looking as though you've been dragged behind the back of a car for several miles. I could never quite comprehend why it was so hard to get dressed in something other than sweats and a tank top, or why a ponytail is the hairstyle of choice. Now I do. I do.

I'm sorry that since I became a mother, I'm not a very good friend. Girls, I love you - and I want to call/email/visit more than you know - but when Mer takes a nap, it's all I can do to keep myself from exploding as I try to brush my teeth, shower, eat, do laundry, pay bills, download pictures, clean the house, make a grocery list, etc...all before she wakes up again. I'm sorry that more often than not, keeping up with my friends falls to the bottom of that list.

I give a very intense apology to my body - the one that I always took for granted before I got pregnant, and the one that will never be the same again. I took advantage of you, and I'm sorry. You received the brunt of the brutality associated with pregnancy, from the sickness to the aches and pains - and you certainly lost the war of delivery. Since then, I haven't treated you very well - what with my poor diet and lack of exercise (apparently walking the halls with a cranky baby doesn't count as exercise, and cheese doesn't count as a balanced meal) but I assure you, I appreciate you, I miss you, and I vow to get you back again.

Honey, you deserve the most apologetic words of all - and you know it, even if you won't admit it - which is just one more reason you deserve it. You've been the most amazing husband and now you're an amazing father - and I probably don't tell you enough. I'm sorry for the days I act like a martyr, and I'm sorry that there are days I make you feel like a second-rate player in this show. I know I am over the top at times, and a complete hot mess at others, and even though I know I won't ever be perfect, I'm glad you're ok with that.

Lastly, and most importantly....I'm sorry, Merrill. I'm sorry that I've had moments where I've had hot tears falling on your sweet head as I try to rock you to sleep. I'm sorry we couldn't make breastfeeding work. I'm sorry you had such uncomfortable tummy issues early on, and I'm sorry I waited so long before trusting my instincts and switching you to soy formula to make them go away. I'm sorry I have been so tired at times that I don't make any sense. I'm sorry that as much as I wish I could be perfect, I have fallen short on many occasions. I want to be your everything, and I want to give you the best there possibly is...and while it may not always be enough, I hope you'll always understand how much I love you. How very, very much I love you.