Your Life Will Change
Before Val was born, a thousand people said this to us. Most often, this came from sort of grizzled folk, people for whom I'd gather parenthood wasn't something they necessarily chose to take on. They'd say this, shaking their heads at all the freedoms we were going to lose because of this tiny person, lamenting the losses we'd now face as a result of being parents.
Even then, I thought they were full of shit.
Yes, of course our lives would change. We anticipated sleeping less (that's very much proven to be true), doing more laundry (also true) and having more toys in the house. So far, all true.
I don't think we fully grasped how much our lives would change. But not because, suddenly, it's a lot harder for us to go out boozing all the time and having orgies. Because believe it or not, that stuff wasn't part of our lives before Valerie's arrival.
Yes, our lives have changed. But not one single bit that's changed is awful. You get used to being tired. You buy more detergent. You find more places to store toys.
What's changed the most for us is things I never would have expected. I stand up to people who make stupid comments about me, about my kid. Things like "she's ornamental, isn't that funny?" No, actually it's not. Yes, I'm aware that we've been friends for years and years, dear man, but it just hit home -- you're a racist. Nice knowing you, pal. My half-Asian daughter does not need to think for one moment that her parents would willingly subject her to someone who finds speaking about her that way funny.
I talk about race more. I ask parents from different races questions about their race, about their children's races, how they find a place for their kids to feel at home. Whether it's schools or playgroups we're talking about, I now have this sort of odd license to ask things about race that I never would have dreamed before. I'm still wielding that license with great care and hope I can continue to do so as Val grows. She deserves that caution from me.
I'm ever more the playground vigilante. Your kid puts his hands on my kid? I'm not waiting to intervene, I'm there, removing my kid from the situation. But I'm not an idiot, I'm not looking to confront parents if I don't need to, I just want to move Val to a safer place.
My women friends and I talk more about our periods/bodies/fertility than I'd ever thought possible.
My fellow breastfeeders and I talk about breasts and the milk that flows from them more than I'd ever wanted to.
So, almost a year later, that's what's changed. More talking about race, less talking about playground incidents, more listening to other parents talk about things that might apply later.
I do not, for one second, lament the things I have 'lost' as a result of being a parent. Sure, we'd all like more time and privacy on the toilet but that's a small price to pay for the sight of a grinning wee girl.
Oh yeah, and we're working towards less cursing. Because as funny as it was the other day when Val leaned over and said 'Oh shit,' we'll probably want to put the kabosh on that before she hits preschool.