You are or are not a parent. If you’ve had any part in bringing a child into the world, they’re stamped on you forever. You can’t take that off for a night out or a day at work without a care; you just are or you aren’t. What you do have a say in is how you choose to digest that happy piece of responsibility.
From what I can tell on this parental precipice, we make daily choices for and about our children; but also for ourselves. Who we are as individuals is permanently affected by these amazing creatures we bring into our lives, but the individual remains – changed slightly. Who will Dave and I become as we progress through parenthood? Will I become more or less stubborn? Dave more or less flexible? Will it bring out our strengths, weaknesses or both? We’re simultaneously watching Tess develop and experiencing our own transformation. So far, Dave is quicker to defend than he was before – and that’s saying something. I’m less inclined to acquiesce for the sake of others and at cost to myself. I feel our priorities have shifted inwards towards our family, probably permanently. Simple choices that meant nothing a few months ago, like going out for a date with Dave, now inspire me to wonder how this will affect her and us.
When we were out Friday night and left Tess with her first non-nurse, I made the conscious choice to put my faith in someone else’s ability to care for her, because the alternative is to worry forever – which, let’s be honest, I’ll do anyway. I was a bit of a nervous wreck. Still, I can at least attempt to control the level of worry! Natalie surpassed my expectations, and justified our choice. Who knew dinner and a movie could be so exhilarating?! Going out meant coming back refreshed and ready for screaming fits and smiles and poop – whatever she throws at us. (Not literally, although I’m sure that will happen at some point.)
Going out also means Tess learns to trust another adult in the world – so its our win and hers. We want Tess to be comfortable with people. This is challenging in that she currently really can’t be around people. So this nanny thing is even bigger than just a nanny. Her ‘people’ sample is minuscule; adding one to the pool can change it drastically. Good thing the experience wasn’t too painful: we’re doing it again tonight!
Saturday night Max, Patty and Liam came over for a very casual dinner. We raided the fridge and CSA box, Dave grilled brats and I threw some brownies together. The weather was incredible: only slightly warm with a breeze. We brought babies, wine, cheese, a dog, a bottle, a sippy cup and the stroller through the construction zone to enjoy our yard for one of the last pre-construction times. getting to sit back and enjoy the park, the lake and our friends was awesome. We’re still reeling from the self-imposed solitude, so getting to spend an evening with some of the few people we allow into Tess’ environment is bliss. My parents stopped by for a glass of wine too, and our little get-together felt downright civilized. Best line of the night goes to mom: “Stella didn’t Purell! She doesn’t get to go near Tess.” We could spend every weekend just like that: kids, friends and family sharing a simple meal. Amazing!
The best part, and something I dreamt about when we found this house, is kids can just go through our back gate and be on sight on the playground in minutes. When Liam needed a break, they just popped over to the swings for a while and then came back. Easy peasy! One of these days, that will be Tess.
Later, as we sat around our now kitchen/dining room table in candlelight, enjoying a last glass of wine and watching our kids pass into dreamland, I felt an enormous sense of well being and happiness. I couldn’t imagine a better life.