A Day in the Life
Last week, I was going through my iPad, looking at pictures of my daughter through the eight months she’s been in this world. Littered throughout various blurry shots and repeats of literally the same exact pose are videos of various stages of motor skills. Here she’s crawling; In this one she’s rolling over. As I swipe left, the feats of physical skills become less and less impressive. It’s what we do as parents, especially first-time parents. We think every little thing our child does is amazing. It’s not.
A friend of mine told me, when our daughter was born, that, “People have been having kids for a long time, but when it’s yours, it feels like the first time anyone’s ever done it. And, in a way, it is.” Sound advice, really, and captures the heart of all of this: that the mundanity is what we’re looking for. The simplest moments can be the best moments.
Most of my work is done from home. It’s a good thing, mostly. We get to skip the exorbitant cost of day care. Our daughter is with a parent at all times. We worry a bit about socialization, but I think most other kids are assholes. She’s better off with me. I have hotter takes on the sports world, plus I’m smarter than most toddlers. Ever seen them try to fit blocks into the correct holes? Most of the time they completely screw it up.
In working at home, I’ll be able to introduce our daughter to classic albums (we’re currently big Astral Weeks fans), public radio, the joys of mid-morning naps, and after-lunch walks with the dog. She helps me prep dinner, which amounts to not much more than picking up stray onions or peppers and me having to wrestle them away from her before she sticks them in her nose.
I figured there’d be a schedule. We’d wake up, have a cute little breakfast together like in those Cheerio commercials. She’d play peacefully with her toys for a couple of hours. While she did this, I’d get some note-taking done for an article I’m working on, or get work done on something larger. I’d shoot out a couple of e-mails all the while glancing over occasionally and commenting, to myself mostly, “Of course she’s behaving. She’s perfect.” Then she’d nap around the time the pot of coffee was finished and I’d write for the two to three hours she napped.
We’d repeat this schedule until late in the afternoon, when my wife would walk into our home to the scene of a father and daughter sitting on the couch reading a book with the dog at their feet. “Dinner will be ready in about an hour,” I’d say, “Oh, and I handed in another piece and a couple of new pitches found homes.”
Of course, I’m an idiot for thinking this way. It wasn’t too bad at first because she was immobilized. If I could deal with a little fussing, I could get some chores done, some writing done. She was a good baby, too. Very self-directed and happy. Then she learned how to crawl. Then she learned how to climb. As I write this, I assume she’s in the next room learning to drive a car.
My days now are filled with chasing. She eats breakfast alone and gets filthy, then screams when I wipe her face as if I’m sanding her smooth. Her playing now involves climbing everything from bookshelves to couches to hutches to refrigerators. When she naps, it’s when I do things like shower, eat, use the bathroom, and punch myself in the chest. Usually by the time the weeping (mine, not hers) stops and I pour a cup of coffee, the baby monitors chimes because she’s either thrown her pacifier at the camera like a pissed off convict or she’s put on a Metallica CD.
It is, unlike her very Bush League kicking or rolling over, quite impressive actually. She can climb stairs. She rarely falls anymore. She can make it from the living room to the dining room — passing through the kitchen on the way — with the stealthiness of a samurai. When she realized we weren’t coming to get her when she would cry at night, she decided she’d try to come to us, using all her might to scale her crib wall like it’s the Khumbu Icefall on Everest.
She’s an absolute hurricane tearing through our home each and every day. Some days I’m FEMA; Some days I’m Red Cross; Some days I’m part of the wreckage and some days no writing gets done at all. It’s a difficult and frustrating way to spend a day. But the fact that she can create all this havoc and fear and frustration and exasperation, and then make me fall much more in love each time she fades into a deep sleep in my arms? That’s impressive.