Before the mom in me was born I used to peer into strollers to ooh and aah over the little angels. I no longer do this, because I now see the tiny, adorable fakers for who they really are.
My own son used to do this neat trick. He would scream his head off for hours on end. All night long. Straight through to the morning. And then into the afternoon. Non-stop screaming and crying. But let me bundle him up and go out in public and he instantly turned angelic. While he peacefully slept, with his tiny bow lips turned up into a sweet smile, women and their ticking, biological clocks would gather round to inhale his baby smell. As they heaped praise upon my slumbering sweetie, I would nod and smile, ashamed to admit the truth. That I was afraid to be home alone with my newborn. Not afraid of what I would do to him. I love that fellow more than life itself, but of what he could do to me. I swear the little bugger had it in for me.
Why else would he revolt against regulars naps, if not to see me go nuts round about four in the afternoon? I'm pretty sure it wasn't my idea that he only sleep when either being rocked in a rocking chair, an infant swing, or by me as I walked a rut around our dining room table. I don't even know how that habit happened. After all, I read all the books written by the baby experts. Perhaps, I should have read him the books.
The books never let me in on a lot of things. Like how there would be nights that I cried louder than he did. Or, in a state of new mommy delirium, I would decide to make all his baby food from scratch. I, who had never even made mashed potatoes from scratch. That didn't last long. One thing the books don't instruct upon, but I learned pretty darn quick is how to do everything one handed. Make dinner, do the laundry, wash dishes and scrub a bathtub with a baby balanced on one hip all made it into my repertoire. Maybe not safe, but sometimes necessary, was driving with one hand on the wheel, and the other one stretched backward over the seat to locate a missing pacifier/rattle/bottle/fill in the blank with any noun.
I learned how to carry on an entire, adult conversation with my husband while singing the itsy, bitsy spider to my smiling son at the exact same time. I learned there's nothing I wouldn't do to bring a smile to my son's face. And that has included standing on my head, dancing in circles to Frank Sinatra's 'Fly Me To The Moon', imitating a monkey, and acting out every word in the book 'Where The Wild Things Are'. For hours on end if necessary.
For while the books can't truly prepare you for those sleepless nights, crying fits that stem from no reason, nor the stresses and frustrations that being a new parent can bring, they also cannot prepare you for the changes your heart will undergo. You may love your spouse, cherish your parents and adore your little, gray haired granny, but until you become a parent it's impossible to comprehend how deeply you can feel those things for another human being. No book could ever teach that lesson with mere words on a page. Parenthood is an experience that requires digging in, getting your hands dirty and your heart opened up to a whole new world.