Getting Off The Parenting Island
by Theresa Reichman
I can’t be the only mother who has felt this way and been determined to overcome it.
When I brought Scarlett home for the first time, I felt it: an intrinsic desire to hibernate. I knew that taking my bundle of pink joy out into the public would overwhelm me. From fending off the hands of strangers wanting to caress the cheeks of new life to panicking every time she whimpered, fearful she would disrupt others. So instead, I holed myself up at home. And I didn’t mind. I bathed in the gurgles and coos, the sweet smell of newborn breath, the little froggy legs that tucked themselves up so delicately, as if they were still confined by the womb. I adored folding my little girl up into my arms and hibernating together, keeping the world at bay.
Eventually, Scarlett and I moved on. Spring came for us and we burst out of hiding with fervor. I introduced her to the world, and the world to her, with so much joy and excitement it felt like I was observing the not-so-hidden wonders of life for the first time myself.
And then Cecilia came along, and suddenly I was outnumbered. The hibernation period which lasted a little over a month with Scarlett has stretched on for far too long with Cecilia. Even still, now that she’s 14-months-old, I sometimes catch myself waiting for Scot to arrive home from work before venturing out, just so I have an extra set of hands to tame our wild ones.
This summer I made a vow to myself. I will not treat my children like a handicap. They are not my excuse to shirk out on life. They are my reason to embrace it.
It’s so easy to run for the shelter of a babysitter any time a child’s vivaciousness may not be welcome. But from now on I’m asking myself, “Why?”
Now I’m not suggesting that moms everywhere should tote their toddlers and newborns to the midnight showing of Eclipse or slam down shots at Applebees and then buckle the babies in the car to go, but so few occasions actually require the decision to find a babysitter or else hibernate.
Two of my old friends recently graduated college and were having a huge bash. We’re talking tents set up in the yard for those who stayed overnight, and a big ‘ole keg of the East Coast’s sweetheart – Yuengling Lager.
Scot travels a lot for work though, and he happened to be away on this particular weekend. I lamented not finding a sitter, when eventually I said, “What the hell.”
I paraded my brood through the Wine & Spirits store for a bottle of wine, baby- on-the-hip and all. I found that the evil stares I was expecting to get were all in my head.
Instead the couple behind me in line complimented Scarlett’s pretty dress and “Ooo”ed and “Awww”ed every time Cecilia would shyly smile and tuck her head into my shoulder. By 7 p.m., we arrived at the party.
While I sat back and sipped on a glass of wine, chatting with friends that I’ve neglected for far too long, my little sprites ran barefoot through the open field. I watched the setting sun cast warm golden halos over my angels’ heads and laughed as they shook their booties to some rap music.
As the dusk settled in, and my 1-year-old rubbed her sleepy eyes, I set up the pack-and-play and snuggled her for a moment, letting her drift off to sleep right there in the midst of the party. Tiki torches were lit, and the crowd settled into a circle of folding chairs.
I watched the girl I called best friend in first grade cuddle my almost-3- year-old so naturally. And I thought to myself… This is love. This is the beauty of parenthood. Not compartmentalizing my life, but blending it. Swirls of friendship, romance and parenthood all tangled together in a beautiful display of life.
Children aren’t a handicap. Parenting isn’t an island.