We Lost Our Identity To Parenting!
Last night we got Boy Wonder to bed pretty early (seven-thirtyish), which left Bex and I a few hours to ourselves. The nights when this happens are few and far between. We operate on different schedules and wind up being home together only two nights a week. Now, you would think that we’d take advantage of this well deserved grown up time and you’d be right. We turn on the tv and fall asleep watching House Hunters.
But last night, instead of doing the same old thing, we sat across from each other and talked. I mean we really talked. We hadn’t done that in months. Every conversation between us lately has been through our parental lenses. “Daddy, can you blah blah blah.” or “Mommy is such a . . .” Well, you get the drift.
At the end of the conversation, Bex said to me “We really need to do this more often.” That little bit of adult time was long overdue. So I started to wonder why we didn’t do that more often. The only answer I could come up with is that wear the superhero mantles of IncrediMom and the IncrediDad has taken over our lives. Our once secret Identities have become our real identities.
The Unspoken Problem
During our conversation, Bex and I reminisced about a time when we did whatever we wanted to do, when we wanted to. We never thought twice before turning the tv on. I ate when I wanted to eat (and at the temperature, I wanted to eat it at.) Bex stayed up all night because she could. She slept in for the same reason. If we wanted to make a late night 7-11 run, we just did it.
Our habits have changed since Boy Wonder came into our lives. We don’t make (as many) spontaneous choices as we used to. Our decisions and our routine tend to revolve around the little sidekick.
This isn’t necessarily a problem, except that we were making it a problem. This pint-sized change brought a gigantic lifestyle adjustment that nothing could have prepared us for. It’s taken some letting-go here, some getting-used-it there, and it happened all at once.
How Did It Happen?
I’ve written enough about our lack of sleep that regular readers know it’s a contributing factor. I won’t write any further on the former relationship I had with my bed. Instead, let’s talk about the combination of other factors that’s led us here.
The biggest thing for me was letting my life revolve around my kid. As a working Dad who stays home with my son in the morning and writes about him online, I forgot to pursue my other interests.
We Entered the Upside-Down
Having the baby made Bex feel like a different person, though she wasn’t entirely sure why. Just after Boy Wonder was born, Bex told me she felt isolated, alone, and bored at home. Understandable since she went from having the coolest job in the world (no joke) to staying home sick in bed for almost a whole year (nine months preggo, three months maternity leave). It was hard for her to recognize the woman in the mirror.
“What I Want When I Want” – Not Anymore
I was an only child who had traveled all over the country and the other side of the world, and suddenly I wasn’t able to do “whatever I wanted when I wanted”. The spoiled brat side of my personality kicked in and I fought hard. Veruca Salt would have been embarrassed with the way I was demanding a golden goose. My mother would have been ashamed. I still made the sacrifices, choices, and decisions that would best benefit my family. So I guess she couldn’t be that ashamed. However, I resented the way my new life looked: Very little going out, no more staying up late, and forget about socializing.
What a pickle our heroes find themselves in, huh?
How Do We Get It Back?
We get it, we will never have a life again like we did in pre-parenthood. Surprisingly, we are both okay with that. We knew that when we signed up for the gig. But we are more than parents and we owe it to ourselves (at least our sanity) to stay in touch with our adult personalities, our true identities behind the mask of Superhero Parents. But how do we do it?
- Find a hobby | I used to love music; making it or listening to it. Bex used to love dancing. Those were our ways of cutting loose all the stress from the day. We promised each other we will make time for hobbies again.
- Worry less, enjoy more | Learning to talk, learning to walk, and laughing at my jokes are all fleeting things. They won’t last any longer than his last nap. But if we relish those as much as we dwell on his temper tantrums the good may just outweigh the bad.
- Date Night | We love our babysitter. We don’t utilize her nearly as much as we should. In the past eight months we’ve only been out to see three movies in cinemas and that’s only because our IncrediParents came to visit. The idea of a weekly or biweekly date night has us tempted to schedule her a little more often.
- Take care of yourself | Boy Wonder and I spend every morning together in our own bizarre version of Groundhog’s Day. Eventually Bill Murray could predict, to the second, what the other characters in the movie would do or say. I have that same ability with my son. A creature of habit, he usually eats around the same times. So, I eat with him. I can usually guess what time his naps are and how long they’ll be. Nap one: I work on blog stuff. Nap two: I shower and get ready for work. I’ve learned to be flexible and mesh my schedule with the baby’s. It took trial and error but both him and I are happier for it
- Part of what makes our marriage successful is that we play to each other’s strengths. When Bex can be Bex and I can be me, we compliment each other so well. But if we want to continue on this journey with each other, we have to grow. What Bex and I are finding out is that we aren’t the same people we were when we fell in love. This whole thing couldn’t work if we were. Evolving from who we were as individuals into who we are as a family hasn’t erased our identity’s but rather, it has bolstered them. We have grown into who we need to be for each other and for Boy Wonder.
- Superhero or not that is my true identity.