There is this set of bloggers using a series of themes, kind of getting to know each other and blogging on the same topics week to week. They use #wholemama on twitter, and I've been following along and meaning to get more involved with it, but just haven't found the time. Which I suppose is kind of the definition of parenting - I'd like to, but when?
In any case, last week's blog theme was on being empowered or kind of your mommy superpower. I wrote kind of a treacly blog post that I didn't even like and shoved aside. It's not that it's dishonest - it's not. It's not even that bad, but it talked a lot about the newborn days and my memory of those days is one of incredibly strong, hyperbolic feelings, a kind of weird fierce pre-civilization protectiveness that is hard to write about, tough to define without falling back on cliches. It's rough and it's saccharine and I think I can do better. So I've got it saved and there it will stay until I want to look at it again.
But, when She Who Shall Now Be Known as Teethy McFussybritches woke us up at 1:30 and then again at 3 this morning because Teeth #6 and #7 are not easy teeth, I thought of that theme, all sarcasm and bleary-eyed desperation. Jason took the first crying time, and the second I got up with her. While I settled in with my fussing, distressed 10-month-old wiggling like a 22-pound goldfish and gnawing on literally anything that came within two feet of her, I thought of that theme. Forty-five minutes later, when she finally, finally fell back asleep, I thought of that theme.
I also wondered how it is that the more tired I am, the more my brain and body slow to a crawl, but as Teethy McFussybritches gets more and more exhausted she ramps her energy up like they've invented Infant Cocaine and it's 1983.
At 4:30, when I was still awake and had to concede it was time to make some coffee and start my day, I thought of that theme. I also thought a lot of varied and colorful swear words.
In my sappy post, I wrote that our superpower as parents is that we are always there to protect our children, even at the cost of our own health if need be. This morning, I thought that while it's a hyperbolic thing to say, it is pretty true. The real superpower of parenting is that you keep. getting. back. up. when they need you, even when it means you can't think or do math or put words together or suddenly forget how to spell "equivalent".
At 6:30, we woke up our peacefully sleeping daughter, who seemed for all the world as though she had dreamt the night away with nary a peep (unless, of course, you were the one holding her while she tried to throw herself backwards away from her own teeth in the middle of the night - or the one whose fingers she chomped down on as hard as she could to comfort herself when you made the terrible mistake of checking to see which teeth it was that had popped through). At 7, Jason left to take Teethy to daycare and to go to work, and I settled down with my laptop to start in on my own workday.
Asleep around 11 and up at 1:30 and then again at 3 am for the day? Ten years ago that would have been rough, and ten years ago I would routinely skip hours of sleep just because I was eighteen and there was nobody to tell me to turn my light off and go to bed any longer.
As a parent, you just... keep going.
That's our superpower.
Our brains, in many cases, are taking some of the worst beatings of their lives thanks to sleep deprivation and stress. I have put a mug full of hot coffee in the fridge for three hours before remembering I'd brewed any. I packed baby food instead of lunch for myself one day. I've worn two different shoes, a shirt on backwards, driven to work without remembering a single second of the drive.
Granted, she's not bad now - she mostly sleeps through the night, except for when she's sick or we have fresh teeth making their appearance. There are still nights like last night, when my eyes were so heavy I think I was in her room and holding her before I managed to pry them open, finding my way down the hall entirely by memory, feeling like I was dreaming even this.
I got up.
So... that's the parenting superpower, if you think about it.
We may wobble down the hall, but somehow we stay up until they're in our arms.
Parenting is like Weebles.
You can see why I get paid to write.
I'm clearly a genius.
(If you don't know what Weebles were because you're too young, don't tell me. I'll suddenly have gray hair and need bifocals if anyone reminds me how long it's been since they were popular.)