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See the Egress

January 12th, 2010

January 12th, 2010
10:17 am

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Written at the beginning of December.

The word I use most frequently to describe new parenthood is idyllic. I can hang out in bed whenever I want, snuggling Littlest and studying her movements and swapping bodily fluids. There's no reason not to Irish up my coffee most days, and I'm doing more pleasure reading now than I have since college. I don't need to worry that I'm wasting time reading junk fiction while I hold her. Holding her is after all my job, and if I put her down she'll wake up and start fussing. For most of my student years, I kept jealous account of my time: I knew what work I needed to pursue every hour of the day and if I felt like I wasn't getting enough done, I started keeping track of where each hour went. Now there are no deadlines--Rebecca's birth was the last major one--and my plans are so subject to interruption that I've replaced them with more fluid intentions. Compared to grad school, new parenthood is less all-consuming, less anxiety-inducing, less sleep-depriving, and less isolating. (The last because friends and strangers both bafflingly find my baby more engaging than my dissertation.)

Still, there's something not quite honest in calling it idyllic, even though it's got all the trappings. I almost never manage to finish the spiked coffee, certainly not while it's warm, and some days I don't manage to eat lunch until two or three in the afternoon, either. Time escaped us so thoroughly that our fish died; presumably we forgot to change their water once too often, or maybe they missed meals sometimes, too.

Having a baby feels like the year I lived in Berlin, when suddenly a variety of mundane tasks became five times harder, but the day-to-day possibilities for enjoying life increased correspondingly--not because the possibilities hadn't been there before, but because whatever levees I'd imagined to keep those temptations out, now were flooded away.

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