By John Jericiau
Not to sound cocky, but my third son is now three months old, and I can pretty much do the daddy thing in my sleep. Okay, I often am asleep while doing it, but that’s beside the point. And yes, I am grumpy a lot of the time (except to Son #3, to whom I am angelic 100% of the time). And I’m out of shape, just recovering from my third sickness in three months, and two hours past deadline on my blog. Luckily I get a pass from my husband, who says he can see that the potential is there for me to get my body back some day. I get a pass from my doctor, because he says that despite the sleep deprivation and the fat acceleration, I still have the stamina and heart of someone twenty years my junior. And I get a pass from my editors, because they are happy that I’m at least turning something in these days.
You see, mediocrity is my new standard. Twenty minutes late to appointments? Bring the baby and they work you in. “Of course you’re late!” they exclaim. “You just getting here is a miracle in itself!” Late paying bills? “We consider newborns a hardship, and therefore can waive your late fee,” I hear on the phone with the credit union. Missed paying property taxes? “I don’t care if you’re Jon of Jon Plus Kate Makes Eight!” they bark. Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all.
I do as much as I can, and then try hard to forget the rest of it. The floors get dirty and the nails don’t get clipped (unless it looks as though my little one has just flown face-first through a sea of thorn bushes, at which point I move nail trimming to the top of my to do list. This doesn’t guarantee that it’ll get done, but it does improve its chances.)
I’m behind in so many aspects of my life. I used to be so on top of replying or responding to emails, for example, and always took pride in an empty inbox. However, I’m currently at 743 unread messages, with a few hundred more buried under those that are waiting for some type of reply. I’ve let Groupons expire, birthdays go by, and have found myself more than once in the “Has Not Responded” column of an Evite. Friends without kids are thinking “WTF!?!” Fellow parents are thinking “No worries!”
Did I start this piece by saying that I had this parent thing down? Obviously, I don’t. What I do know is how to help a friend with a newborn. Here are some ways.
DON’T BUY SIZE 0-3 MONTH CLOTHES. By the time you get the gift to your friend, the baby will be outgrowing that size, and your gift will continue to be regifted in perpetuity.
GO OVER THERE AND HOLD THE BABY. Simple as that. Make sure you get instructions for changing and feeding, and then let the parent go off and sleep for two hours. I guarantee that every new parent will love this gift.
BRING FOOD TO THE PARENTS. Any comfort food is good; just make sure it’s a good quantity and easy to heat and reheat.
TAKE THE OLDER KIDS FOR THE AFTERNOON. One tricky thing for the parent of a newborn is how to entertain the other kids. If you offer to catch a movie or have a play date with the siblings, the parents can have some guilt-free quality time with their newborn.
As much as it seems like it is, this is NOT a call out for help. I’ve become a realist, and am able to see where the help is needed, even in my own predicament. I’ve simplified things in my own mind. So for any parents out there who are trying to be perfect and get everything on that never-ending list done, I say let it go. Set yourself free. Be content with the fact that your kid(s) are alive and kicking and happy. Live each day moment by moment, and don’t worry if things don’t get finished. Because in the long run, it does.