Sunday, February 14, 2010

This Parenting Thing Isn't So Hard

Eight weeks into my parenting sequel, I can safely declare that the whole "like riding a bike" thing applies. My anxiety level is about one-hundredth what it was when Jackson was a baby. I don't worry as much about injury. I don't fret about whether I'm doing everything right. The whole fear of being tied down for the rest of my life is non-existent.

Of course, this is as much a function of my partner being a first time parent to my seasoned veteran as it has anything to do with my being 12 years older. It isn't often in life that we get to revisit major experiences from a more mature perspective, and I'm savoring the opportunity. It's enlightening to watch Sarah experience the uncertain and worrisome state of first-time parenting, and to actually get to occasionally be the voice of reason, a role I'm not renowned for playing. Not that I've had to express that voice much; Sarah's doing a bang up job that demonstrates a levelheadedness far beyond that of most first-time parents I've seen.

But before I get carried away patting both of us on the back, much of the credit should go to Max himself. He has made these first weeks a smooth ride with a combination of joyful energy, fast-developing sleep patterns, and an innate ability to comfort himself. Last night, he slept eight hours. The night before, it was 10 1/2, and the night before that, nine. Those are not typos--those are actual sleep totals for a seven-week-old. It's enough to make us the envy of the newborn circuit.

Getting back to Sarah, one of the most remarkable things I'm witnessing is her transformation from mere woman into mother. On the first go-round, my partner was a third-time parent, so there was very little change. But Sarah is evolving before my eyes into a completely different person. I'm not talking the obvious stuff like new daily rituals and rawer emotions. I'm talking about the maternal instincts released by the time capsule that activates at the core of a woman-turned-mom, the combination of nurturing and nesting and tenderness and protectiveness that rapidly build like a storm sweeping across the Midwestern plains.

What's sad is that so many men find these changes to be so threatening. It's often the time when couples struggle to maintain their connection, when resentments start to germinate and frustration constantly simmers under the surface. I feel the opposite as I watch Sarah the Mom emerge. Sure, there's sadness regarding the all-too-brief honeymoon period I got to enjoy with her, but my overarching sense is that of feeling touched that I get to share this crazy experience with her, and excited by the prospect of watching her one day rediscover the self nature has forced her to suppress in the name of the biological imperative.

I guess what I'm saying is that the amazing woman I fell in love with just over two short years ago is becoming an even more amazing woman right before my eyes. Couple that with a seemingly ideal baby who has effectively eliminated the typical stress levels associated with having an infant, and what you get is more good fortune than one man deserves.

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