Friday, June 6, 2008

Managing expectations

I started my second round of paternity leave last week. It's been slightly modified since we originally decided that I would take four weeks off following Kitty's (at the time) eight weeks. When her leave was extended, I decided to change mine to allow me to be in the office twice a week. Don't ask why I voluntarily decided to keep going in to work, because I don't know. I'm obviously a very stupid man.

I think part of it had to do with the realization, during my first two weeks, that I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into. I foolishly thought that I'd be able to take care of the Ninja on my own during these four weeks, all the while staying on top of work via email and the occasional conference call. Heck, maybe I'd even throw the baby in the carrier and we'd go hang out in the office while all the office ladies clucked over us both. Yeah. I'm a moron.

About 15 minutes into my first leave, as I was wiping vomit & sweat off my face while frantically searching for a new diaper and wondering whether the baby was really supposed to turn that color, it dawned on me. Work is the quiet, safe place to be. I know how to handle those problems. And my coworkers very rarely throw up on me. So in the interests of holding onto both my job and my sanity, I modified my original plan.

This was just the first case in which my original expectations and the reality of the situation didn't quite line up. At this point, I've changed more expectations than diapers. Whereas my original goals had been to manage the baby, laundry, finances, house cleaning and work, I now have just one goal: keep the baby alive. If I can pull that off, I'm both surprised and thrilled. The laundry will wait. After all, I only need to leave the house twice a week.

Monday was our first day with just me and the boy. Kitty had appointments most of the day, so his survival really was on my hands. It was a banner day. Hanging out with the boy right now is like hanging out with a stoner. He babbles incoherently, he's happy to just sit and stare at his face in the mirror, contemplating each eyelash, he laughs at everything I say, and he loves naps. In fact, we took two of them on Monday. I haven't taken two naps in a day -- well, ever. It was exceptional. I thought I was doing an awesome job. Sure I was getting a some help from a little babysitter I like to call Mr. Duct Tape, but for the most part, I was on top of my game.

I was surprised by the need to take two naps, however. The number one question that people ask you when you've told them you have a baby at home is, "So, you getting any sleep?" They seem disappointed if you tell them that you have been. And I have been. Kitty's doing all the midnight feedings and even if she wanted me to participate, I wouldn't wake up if she placed the baby on my head. Believe me, we've tested it. But for some reason, I'm still exhausted.

The sheer focus required to raise a baby is so taxing that eight hours of sleep just isn't enough. My eyes are never off of him for more than a second and I'm constantly worrying that he's not breathing/peeing/blinking enough. That kind of worrying is exhausting.
I guess I never realized that the days of just sitting on the couch watching TV with a beer in my hand would be over. I mean, really, really over. It's a shame, because I'm really good at sitting on the couch watching TV with a beer in my hand. I mean, I'm, like, an expert. So much talent, wasted.

I suppose that there's still hope for me and TV. Maybe the Ninja is a TV prodigy and will be ready to discuss The Simpsons and 90210 once he can actually string together more than drool. Of course, since I'm not allowed to let him watch TV, this will be a difficult goal to achieve. I might need some help distracting Kitty.

I wonder if Mr. Duct Tape is up to the task.

No comments: