So many people liken a new arrival to a life-changing event that as a Jersey boy through and through, I plan like a hurricane is approaching. Thus I’ve gotten down to battening the hatches here. Come to think of it, though, I don’t have a lot of experience on ships, so I’m not sure why I think I know anything about hatches per se. The point is, we’re prepping with the idea that soon, preparation ends and the next chapter begins. All signs point to an early delivery for us, due dates and calendar slide tools aside. I am at DEFCON 3.
It occurred to me the other night, as I was sweating through an instruction booklet for our “Snug-a-Bunny Swing from Fisher Price” that I will have a lot of these moments ahead of me. Whether it’s “Daddy, I want a bicycle,” and “Daddy, I want a Betty Crocker Oven that is impossible to find anymore because President Bush took away all of our incandescent light bulbs in some disingenuous gesture toward ecology so I can’t bake a mini-cake,” I’m certain to find the small print on the box telling me that some assembly is required.
I am the assembly line, at least the finishing end of the assembly line. Where the beginning of life of these products involved welding robots and molten metal, I come armed with an allen wrench and a tiny bag of screws. It’s just like the same, really.
The sweat on my brow as I pushed metal together like some oversized LEGO project, and the quiet stream of curses that emanated from me also helped me realize that this whole preparation thing is silly. Preparation for what? Yes, we’re going to be exhausted the first few months, and mopping the kitchen floor won’t be on the top of our priority list, but at some point, we will mop again. Just like I’ll still have to get the car’s oil changed, clean the oven, do the laundry, and water all of the plants. Unless I get those weird glass things that hold water in them that I saw that night when I couldn’t sleep and I tried to pretend it wasn’t really 3:17 in the morning….but no! I will need to water the plants someday again.
I want to resist this whole counting down approach, even if I’m looking at my wrist for the time every seventh minute. I haven’t worn a watch since 2008, but I still look at my wrist. I have phantom watch, I guess.
A fan of the Myers-Briggs personality test, I am an extreme J, which means I super really like lists and closure, and accomplishment. And hoo-boy, is it an accomplishment to have a baby. But such narrow focus on the day of labor and the golden hour afterward means that I’m not paying enough attention to all of the moments that will roll in after that. I know intellectually that parenthood is forever, so I don’t need reminding, but I’m saying here and now that the kid may be 12 before it really hits me. By then, who knows how many toys, tree houses, and electronic systems I’ll have assembled?
My apologies to my parents for all of the crap they put together for me over the years. I swear I appreciated it before, but now, I get it on a whole new level of exhaustion. Plus, it’s going to be great when I’ve stayed up into the night on some future Christmas just to watch the child play with a cardboard box that I had no part of assembling. But really, it’s all okay. I want them to play with whatever makes them happy.
It’s not like I can just give my child boxes, anyway.
Wait a minute. Did I just come up with a great moneymaking idea?