17 November 2007
A Kick in the Pants
I love the phrase "A Kick in the Pants." I love the way it means its own opposite. Mostly, I love the positive meaning: a cause of enjoyment. Who enjoys being kicked in the pants? I do--when it is from someone I love who is being playful.
Alex said the other day that he thinks parenthood "is a kick in the pants." I think he has provided an apt description of parenthood in more ways than one. Normally, upon being kicked in the pants, one feels dismay at a reprimand. The dismay is compounded by the fact that said kick brings up early childhood baggage of being spanked. How humiliating! We also feel disgusted that anyone would have so little respect for our dignity that they feel comfortable kicking us in the pants.
All aspects of pants-kicking apply very well to parenthood. Upon entering the parental state, among other emotions, one feels dismay, "Will I ever get a full nights' sleep again?"; humiliation, "Does this mustard look go well with my new white shirt, honey?"; and disgust, "Spit-up between my toes is a new and not-so-thrilling sensation." Appearing in public knowing all of the fluids and food that have been all over one has a tendency to truly chop at the trunk of one's dignity tree.
While the first few months were a veritable roller coaster between oxytocin-induced euphoria and sleep deprivation, we eventually triumphed through them, much to our surprise and delight. And Grace even slept through the night every night after she reached 11 months.
However, there is also the other side of a kick in the pants, "a cause of real enjoyment." After sitting for five to seven minutes enthralled with the way Grace's fat little cheeks move as she eats, I have realized that the simple pleasures of life cannot be numbered, and they increase exponentially with the advent of parenthood in one's life.
For example, she hides in plain sight and waits for me to find her; says, "Tank Ooo" on occasion after a stinky diaper change; growls to express desire for whatever food is on the table; tries to bore a hole in her cheek with her finger whenever in the presence of her Bapah (signing "candy" which she learned the fastest of any sign I have taught her); howls like a coyote along with her father; and runs really fast when I say her name in the "Don't you dare touch that or I'll shake the pudding out of you" voice.
You may be thinking, "This is Jenny's way of subtly trying to make me baby hungry, since as a resident of a rural Utah town she has no other friends over the age of 19.5 who don't have kids." This is an incorrect assumption. I have many friends who are in that situation, and I have utter respect for all of them in this most important life-altering decision. Sometimes it is just not the right time yet, or someone has been unable. Besides, a third of my readers are married to me, another third are too young to be married (that's you Claire), and the other third already have kids. I just want it to be known, that while I heard many, The good life is over's when I became pregnant, I have found that the real "Good Life" had only just begun. (Cue The Carpenters)