The New Normal
Sunday, August 29, 2010 posted by Henri
Something funny happens with parenting. About year 5 or so…you finally let go of your life before kids. It’s like some hazy distant memory bathed in golden dappled sunlight from that summer in Mexico in 1986.
Early parenting is like sporting fresh heartbreak, you go from day to day in your new situation unable to shake or accept the fact that you’re no longer dating Angelina Jolie. And to make matters worse, you keep bumping into her and she’s with that new dude and you can’t even really strike up a conversation because you’ll inevitably have to make fun of his performance in Meet Joe Black.
But you can’t keep your eyes off of her.
You sigh every so often.
And time, marches on. One day followed by another long-ass day.
But the years, like little ninjas, sneak past your guard. And you realize one day that she’s become a funny story in your life, just cocktail conversation really. You have trouble believing it yourself.
“Hey I used to date that chick Angelina Jolie forealzyo”
It’s so foreign now.
I don’t know what I did before kids. It’s profane, the amount of time I had.
“I think I’ll practice my beer pong today.”
“I wonder if I could learn to do a cartwheel.”
“A sesame seed is like how many poppy seeds big?”
“Should I compare all the Pupusas in the area and like make like a list of which ones are best?”
“What should be my next hairstyle?”
“Can I rap?”
“No not this bar, lets go to an even better bar!!!!!”
Yeah…stupid shit. Hours and hours of time used as building material for a giant effigy of King Meh and his golden burro, SirDanceALot. It’s like some dude collecting arrowheads to make a pretty necklace for Burning Man while I’m trying to sharpen a stick to stab a rodent to eat before I die. Pre-kids vs. post-kids mang.
By the third kid, you kinda have your systems in place. The days although still long, are not necessarily fraught with new challenges.
I can touch poo.
I have an internal atomic clock time-out timer in my brain.
I can carry three carseats while texting
I can tell which kid is out of bed by their acoustic footprint.
I can titrate children’s Tylenol
I can walk with screaming kids unaware of the general public staring at me
I can spend every night of my life, after the kids are finally in bed, putting the house back together as if I’m closing a restaurant with shitty hours and no pay.
I can do all this with a dumb smile on my face, because it is my new normal.
Has been. For a while now.
It’s kinda weird finding myself in this place. Settled comfortably, steering this slow boat into the middle years of my life. I’ve navigated past the party boats, the yachts, the grand sailboats and sleek racers jockeying to get under the bridge. I’m finally hitting open water.
The middle years seem vast. It’s a bit calmer, a bit sharkier, and city lights have been replaced by an equally beautiful starlight. And as my oldest kid starts kindergarten this week, I’ve realized how quickly and quietly the years can slip by. Before you know it,
you look back and can barely see the shore.
Maybe Angelina’s on it. Waving goodbye. To somebody.