Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mind Over Matter

"Mind over matter," is just a saying until you become a parent. Seriously. I always thought I had that mind over matter thing down pat. I could bear unreasonable amounts of pain before giving in and taking an Advil. I could stomach uncomfortable hot or cold longer than most other people around me before caving and turning on the air conditioner/heat. I could sit and do nothing, if nothing was available without complaining of boredom. I thought I had it down. If I had an itch, I would do my best not to scratch it unless it was really driving me nuts.

I was living life on Easy mode though. Having a baby skips Medium difficulty and sets the game of life straight to Hard mode. If you're a single parent expect to skip Medium and Hard mode and wake up in Nightmare mode -- a mode typically only unlocked once the game realizes you can handle Hard mode. Being a parent immediately puts life into perspective for you, whether you wanted it to or not. You realize, suddenly, that you had absolutely no idea what "mind over matter" even meant before. Before: when you hilariously thought you had it down pat.

You don't conquer mind over matter until you are sitting with an over-tired infant, rocking ceaselessly in the dark, in absolute silence trying to convince it to finally fall asleep. Then, when it finally begins to nod off you feel that tickle in your nose alerting your body that you are imminently going to sneeze. You have to, your nose tells your brain. There's no way to go about that without completely rousing the infant you've worked so diligently with to get to sleep. Even if you manage to sneeze quietly it's still a full body jolt. You realize, if you allow this bodily function to carry itself out -- you will wake the baby, and getting it back to sleep may take hours. Cutting into the miniscule time you get to yourself, to eat, sleep, and bathe.

You recognize in that instant that sneezing is NOT and option. You cannot sneeze. Both of your hands are full. The baby, so peacefully nestled in them. You don't have time to set the infant in its cradle to run out of the room to sneeze. The only thing you can do if you want to come out of this successfully is not sneeze. It takes every ounce of willpower you possess. But you do so.

Congratulations, you've just successfully fought against Nature and won.

You wake up at 3am, after having only been asleep for 45 minutes. You realize upon waking that you have a fever and need to go throw-up. The flu. The baby wakes and it's time to start your day. You pop a Tylenol, grab a cup of ginger tea and act as though it's business as usual. You haven't the time to be sick. Your baby needs you.

Congratulations, another victory for you.

You face challenges such as this daily. Sometimes multiple times a day! It's nap time, a particularly difficult time for many parents as babies (once they've adjusted to a proper day/night schedule) have a difficult time falling asleep when the sun is still shining -- if there is light in the room. It's a distraction. They can see things: they can see you! Their tiny eyes will wander, their little hands will grope at things. If only they would just close their eyes! Finally they do, after endlessly rocking or swaying. In a few minutes you'll be able to put them in their crib and tend to your own needs. You've probably had to pee for at least twenty minutes now. You glance down...

There is a spider on your pant leg, strolling around like it's gd Central Park. Your first instinct is to squeal and swat at it. You must suppress this instinct. Even were your hands free, swatting and shouting in fright would most certainly wake that baby you just now managed to get to sleep. You swallow your terror and continue to gently rock, watching Satan's spawn skitter around on your leg, undoubtedly plotting how best to kill you while you're helpless.

Congratulations, you've won again!

You're sitting and playing with a happy baby, someone delivers terrible news. You want desperately to break down into tears or shouting or whatever the case may be. If you break down though, baby will break down too. They are freakishly perceptive of emotions. Most people would react right then, but you have to keep your cool for now. Set aside whatever emotion you're feeling and continue stacking colored blocks until a more appropriate time, such as when a spouse, friend, or family members arrives to relieve you of duty. You didn't think you'd be able to, but you did.

Congratulations, yet another victory for you!

Welcome to life as a parent. In a few short months you'll practically be a master of mind over matter. You've got serious bragging rights. Especially with your childless friends. As they relay to you what a long hard day they've had, you nod sympathetically while inwardly laughing hysterically -- because you know how to. It's just mind over matter.

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