Somewhere in the middle of the night, my dear husband tried to hand off our five month old. His efforts to settle our sweet offspring had failed. Being the loving wife I am, I growled, “Well, what do you want me to do about it?” Then I got out of bed, went to the bathroom, and came out saying, “You’re poo pooing all of my plans!” What plans? Probably the plans to solve all the world’s problems. Thanks to Chad’s poo poo we’ll never know.
Naturally I have no recollection of this exchange.
You see, it’s been over six months since I last had a night of uninterrupted sleep. Solly may only be five months old but you know I wasn’t sleeping those last weeks of pregnancy. I was waking overnight to pee, blow my perpetually congested nose, attempt to find a comfortable position, get a snack, or simply sit owl-like on the couch, awake for no good reason. Third trimester glory right there.
Here’s the truth: the first twelve months of parenting are about survival. It’s a swirling vortex of sleeplessness, teething, diaper changes, laundry, growth spurts, developmental leaps, feedings, mood swings (both baby’s and parents’), and drool (hopefully just baby’s). You tackle one day at a time, doing whatever gets you to bedtime…or just the next chunk of sleep you can manage to snatch. It’s nothing but BS.
What? I meant Basic Survival. Natch.
We’re in the trenches with Solly. It is no joke. He is adorable, sweet, and lovable. He is also challenging. This being our second, we were surprised how much of the BS stuff we forgot. It happens pretty quickly once the infant stage ends. This is a necessary phenomenon; if it all remained crystal clear, parents may not sign up to repeat it. While only children are totally fine, if every family just had one kid eventually the human race would die off.
There’s a bit of a problem with that forgetfulness, though. We can lose the grace new parents so desperately need. Luke 23:34 ought to be the theme verse for the BS of parenting. “Forgive them, for they (have a helpless infant at home and therefore are so exhausted they) know not what they do.” (That’s from the AAT, Amanda’s Amplified Translation.) It’s for this reason my husband and I have committed to the following maxim: for the first year of a baby’s life, parents get a free pass. Cranky? It’s probably just BS. Inflexible? BS. Irrational? Snippy? Fallen off the face of the earth? You got it…BS.
Admittedly my timing is little self-serving since we’re not quite halfway through the Solly year of BS. Partly I want to plead for understanding and empathy in case my hubby or I do or have done something that offends or makes no sense to you. I also write now because it’s fresh and real and for our future selves, I want to set a reminder to extend that same grace to future new parents, no matter how their particular brand of BS manifests.
Every kid is different so the BS of parenting may be unique for each family, but if we can all agree to assume the best of one another – especially new parents – it’ll make all shades of BS a lot easier to handle. Then all of humanity, new parents, veteran parents, and non-parents alike, can raise their voices together in a grateful chorus celebrating babies, parents, the continued existence of humanity, and the varied BS skills we employ!