Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On the Changes Children Bring

I've been thinking a lot lately about how much children change your life. I had a dream the other night that I lost one of my children and it's difficult to describe the panic that I felt. Sometimes a picture of my son makes me think, well, it makes me think terrible and touching things.

Anyhow, what I would liek to do is demistify some of these changes for people without children, or even for people with children. There are some amazing changes that come with children, not without meaning.

When the kids came, I wasn't overwhelmed. I was talking to my accountant, and he described his feelings on the day of his daughter's birth as 'a rush'. I didn't feel any rush. Due to complications, my wife was scheduled for a c-section about three months before the birth. We showed up at the hospital without any of the prototypical drama associated with births - it was like showing up for a normally scheduled appointment, which it was in fact. Once we were in the hospital, the attitude of the staff was so efficient and professional that worrying actually seemed out of place. I was worried about my wife, of course, but it was so far out of my control that I felt almost like I was getting in the way. They pulled each of my children out; my son silent and my daughter screaming, each covered with associated detritus and quickly spirited away by an overweight nurse to another room where they were... well, I have no idea what they did in the other room. I had no desire to cut anything, although I was very interested in looking, which they did not let me do. I was told to sit down when I tried to peak over the curtain.

So later I was in a room with my wife, who was a little out of it due to the anasthesia, and my new children. The nurses, as they were throughout our stay, were helpful, senstitive, and on the spot. They seemed the most comfortable with the situation. I was kind of dumbfounded. I had been around kids for years, having five nephews and nieces by this time. I had been there. There was no rush, just completion. I was happy, but it was hardly unexpected that two children would appear. We had been to ultrasounds every month, we had talked about it almost constantly, we had planned, moved, and prepared for eight months. I was not shocked, nor was my wife (as far as I could tell).

We brought them home - to their home, where they would live. That was a moment, but again, not unexpected. I read somewhere that what makes a family exceptional is that children intuitively understand that they are unconditionally accepted at home. My house would be the place where they would be received, always, forever. Like I said, it was a moment.

Up to now, and for the next few months, the only emotion elicited by the kids was exhaustion - if that's a feeling. They were lots of work. I posted to Facebook at one point saying "I think I have this parenting thing figured out." What I meant was that it was just a lot of work and you have to keep working and hope your wife keeps supporting you. It was twins, and let me tell you, it's a lot of work with twins. But there was no whopping emotional feeling associated with caring for them. It was just work.

One thing I noticed during this time was how much less I was thinking of myself. Many of the neuroses associated with the late teens and twenties I now attribute to having too much time and energy. Getting four hours of sleep a night for weeks on end, with a night off, then for weeks more, takes it outtaya. I was wishing that I was back in my twenties, with all of the associated youthful energy. One of the guys in our Multiples Birthing Class was 55 and having triplets. For goodness sake, I'm glad I wasn't him. In any case, you wanna stop thinking of yourself, have some kids. Or don't, I guess there's lots of people out there that are still crazy with kids. But I found it to expend a lot of energy leaving me with little time to think too much about myself.

So now I think about who I would kill if something should happen to my kids and panic in dreams about losing them. It kind of snuck up on me. I don't know if I'm just dense, or what. Probably dense. But here I am, crazy about my kids and thinking about them often. Which isnt' so bad - it's another way to take the focus off myself, where it doesn't need to be.

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