A friend just visited-- another single mom. Her daughter is just over two years old, and a very busy bundle of curls and curiosity. It was good to catch up with her, and she got in her baby-holding quota. (No one wants to put a sleeping baby in their crib except their parent! Everyone else wants to hold them. It's hilarious.)
She asked me a question that's gotten me thinking: how is being a parent different than I expected?
I tend to be fairly verbal, but I didn't have a quick answer for this. My reply, eventually, was that right now it's pretty much what I thought it would be. I always expected the first six weeks or so to be fairly overwhelming full-time infant care. I expected to enjoy it, mostly. I expected to love kissing my daughter's head, or to get a kick out of giving her a bath. I expected to feel a little cut off from reality. I expected all of this, and it came true.
I guess what I didn't expect was that I'd find tiny little things absolutely fascinating and endearing-- how her eyebrows raise in surprise when she finds a food source, how her hands constantly move around like little butterfly wings, how she is not fond of loud noises or direct sunlight. These are not particularly revolutionary things, yet I note and remember them as if they're the most important facts ever. They are, in a way.
I also didn't believe how enormous this experience would be. You know intellectually that everything changes when you become a parent; it's different when it's no longer an intellectual exercise.
It's entirely, overwhelmingly different.