Giving up life for parenthood

I’ve developed a new routine. It’s easy, actually – and it took no time to develop. It’s called “Don’t Do Anything Creative,” and it’s become a specialty of mine thanks to the sleeping patterns of our two kids.

For the past ten days, each night has ended in a similar fashion.

I get home from work. We eat. We compare notes from our day. We tell Sierra to stop climbing on things.
Isaac sleeps until about 7.
Sierra gets in the bath at 8. (It’s about this time I think of something I’d like to write about, or a book I’d like to read, or a good idea for a photo.)
Isaac wakes and eats around 8:15.
Sierra finally gets out of the bath at 8:20.
Isaac develops a gas bubble at 8:30. Meanwhile, Sierra has begun her new trick: not sleeping.
Isaac fusses. Kerrie or I rock him. Sierra cries in her room. Kerrie or I ignore her.

Eventually, around 9:45, everyone has nodded off. Sometimes its earlier than others, often a little later. Kerrie heads off to bed while I continue rocking Isaac to the glow of the television. By the time I’m ready to call it a night, I can’t remember any of the ideas that popped into my mind earlier. And it wouldn’t matter – I can’t dare perform any of the promises I made for myself. I can only go to bed, aching from the loss of productivity, stuck between sleep and awake as I desperately try to make things right.

For some people, it’s a lack of sleep. Others feel like they’ve lost their ability to reason like an adult, especially after spending days with children under 2. Maybe every meal is ruined, or maybe you can’t bother to take a shower every day.

But though I love both Isaac and Sierra more than anything, and though the only thing I can think of when I’m at work is coming home to spend time with my family, I still find myself in a selfish slump, mourning my lack of time and energy.

And I realize that the sacrifice we make for our kids doesn’t consist of just time and money. It’s ambition, too. Which makes developing a stronger drive one of the most important things we can do as parents.

To remember that, before these kids were around, we were our own people. We were the people we wish we could still be. Once we lose sight of that, we’ve given up.

Because as long as we keep pushing forward, we’ll never have to say we gave up our lives for parenthood. Instead, we can proudly say we simply added it to our list of passions.

This was lovingly handwritten on July 20th, 2009