How Being a Parent Has Changed Me

How has being a parent changed me….

I would say that it's changed me only a little bit so far. It's almost three months and two weeks since he came into the world, and in the little time that has passed (and yes, it goes as fast as they say) I don't feel drastically different. Sure, my life will never be exactly the same. I have someone to consider with every move I make. But I don't "see the world differently", and I don't feel that my life has "changed forever" so much. Everything has been unsettlingly natural.

Yet I find myself questioning my emotional identity. I feel things, a lot of things, but I thought I would feel… more. Don't get me wrong, I feel amazed by Ryo; that we created him but we do not own him; that he is his own whole human being, right from the start. I feel grateful that he is healthy. I also feel surprisingly relaxed and easy going, when I thought I would be more obsessed. Even throughout pregnancy I didn't feel like making a big deal about his nursery, parenting style decisions, even things we needed to decide immediately after his birth like his name and whether or not we should circumcise. I didn't want to feel rushed so I let each step of the journey sink in, taking my time to adjust and trusting that it will come. I don't worry about what looks like eczema on his cheek. I don't think he needs a bath every day. I handle him like a football when I probably should be more careful. 

So, I'm taking my time, but I then i start to worry. Is it too much time? Am I waiting too long to "become a parent?" How open am I capable of being? Am I guarding myself? Have I not made a bond? I want to feel close to my son, and I want to feel close to my partner. Am I holding back? Am I just exhausted? Am I too distracted by all the should-be's? Should I not be? God, I am starting to understand why my mom despises that word, "should". It's so loaded with judgement and expectations. I've written about my struggles with judgement before, and I'm starting to realize that I haven't written about my birth story because of how much Expectation is weighing me down. I want to feel free of all that… 

I really liked this blog post by artist Michelle Armas, whose work I love, but also whose voice I admire. She writes her take on how her impending parenthood can be as individual as she is, and how **she decides** how it goes. That completely resonated with me. I want to feel that freedom from expectation, which by the way, I'm realizing is COMPLETELY internal and dumb. I don't know how to stop listening to myself but also start listening to myself, like a freak'n schizophrenic, but I'll figure it out.

I can probably start by being assertive with myself and making some conscious statements like: I am both a laid-back parent AND I have motherly instincts, which means I know what matters and what doesn't. The only thing I should do right now is give my son lots of kisses and cuddles while he's still little and can't run away from me. I want to start making a habit of saying "I love you" multiple times a day. I will protect his online presence and limit sharing, as much as I can abstain anyway, the internet ho that I am. I don't want him to watch produced television at all, but I guess home videos or text-based screens are OK. And if we're going to have toys they will be thoughtfully designed. Tactile, not tacky. I will do what I can to take him outside and explore, but I won't go out of my way to do something neither of us will enjoy. 

Hunh, weird. I feel better already.