One thing I heard again and again--hence I took it seriously--had to do with the time suck. Kids take all your time. Get used to having no time for anything, ever. Your time no longer belongs to you. Time time time--all gone. Okay, so they weren't lying. It’s utterly amazing how quickly tasks, demands, surprises and new rituals crop up and transform your life into a new matrix of messy love/fatigue/squishy/hard domestic quiche. My time is rather unrecognizable now in comparison to life-before-kids. But what they didn't tell me about time feels way more important than what they did say. And that’s this: you don’t just lose time; others lose their time with you. And that’s some painful shit.
People I loved first started going away when my nighttimes got taken up by bubble baths, lavender lotioning and rocking with baba. I couldn't go to the club anymore. Couldn't meet with strategizing activists at the bar. Couldn’t watch late night movies and then talk or make out till 2 a.m. Over time I started lingering for cuddles in the bed instead of working out first thing in the morning. My workout partners dropped off. I could no longer go for road trips once my daughter hit 6 months because she needed the stability of home-based routines. Unfortunately many of my friends live out of town and were used to me driving out for over-nights or weekends at least a couple times a year. They've stopped inviting me now. Honestly: i’m glad because it hurts every.single.time to say no. When the second kid came along even my best friends, spouse, and mom started to complain about my lack of availability. Earlier this week I realized that my colleagues at work, ones that I love and adore with my whole heart, can seem like strangers. I don’t give the same amount of time to collegial relationships that I used to because I’m in such a rush to get to my family. I’ve had more than a handful of congregants bemoan my absence; mostly it’s gentle missing but every once in a while I get accused of not caring because I don’t show up the way I used to.
They didn't tell me I would sip coffee in the mornings, in the 12 seconds of quiet at hand, softly crying because I don’t have a clue anymore what it feels like to get dressed up and strut my shit with other pliable queers in the streets. I miss that. They didn't tell me that my favorite college professor’s father would die and we’d be so out of touch that I wouldn't even find out in enough time to send an appropriately placed letter. Damn it. They didn't tell me that loose ends with friends I’d been beefing with, on and off for years, would just die because there wouldn't be enough energy to attend to the potential, passion and pain anymore. Ouch. They didn't tell me about the periods gone by between phone calls with folks who I literally couldn't fathom living without less than 10 years ago. Ughhhhhh.
I've missed being at weddings, birthday parties, retirement receptions, the Occupy movement, baptisms, installations, conferences (With/Out Border in Kalamazoo this weekend FML) vacations with family, season playoff games. Worse: sometimes I show up to stuff and I’m not even there even though I’m there because I’m so tired, stressed, preoccupied, etc. No one told me about that! They didn't tell me about how friends would resent me, how family would grow quite, how some of my congregants would forget what it was like for them and judge me accordingly. They didn't tell me that I’d be giving more of myself away than I ever have but I’d constantly be hearing how it’s not enough.
There are bazillions of gifts in parenting. There are moments perfect enough in the world of being Aurora and Isaiah’s mommy that I wonder if I’m dreaming. Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn't trade my life. But no one told me about this feeling of neglecting everything and everyone who isn't drooling, pooping, or wanting to play in my house. And it hurts. Like hurts in my guts. Carves out a hollow sense of airlessness in my chest and gives me over to unwilled child’s pose. It’s kinda monstrous. I don’t like it. Some folks will insist that I’ll get my “life back” at some point, but that’s not the point. Missing is missing. Grief is grief. There are moments gone that’ll never come back. It’s real. It’s part of the sacrifice of being a parent.
What I want to say is that while I love being a parent, I need a place to express the sorrow I am carrying about missing certain people and certain days/hours/moments because missing them is one thing but not allowing that sorrow to be expressed is another round of missing. And I can’t do the second round. Fuck emotional repression. The first round is bad enough.
I want to say that sometimes I am just flat fucking sorry that limitations exist, that my body can only be one place at a time, and that the life-change in parenting has an acceleration rate that I had no fucking clue about. I wish I had known. Because there’s this arrogant part of me that thinks if I knew then I would have done a better job of preparing myself and our relationships for this. Which is arrogant. Beneath the arrogance is utter sadness about absence and longing and failure to show up in places where I want to be more than anywhere (except parenting). This sorrow is about growing the fuck up and realizing that in order to get what you want the absolute most, other stuff that you want too, goes away, no matter how much you wish it wouldn't.