“Baby jail,” is how I heard a friend of mine refer to the first year of childhood. The parents – particularly the mother – are held captive by this tiny being who subjects them to an unrelenting schedule and constant demands. Yes, there are smiles, coos, chuckles, milestones, and first words that are so precious in that first year, but at the same time it is a year in which there is room for little else but survival and caring for the baby.
All of that said, after having two kids in two years, I feel like I am reentering society after three years in the clink. I’m still on probation, but my freedom is increasing. I’m able to move more freely, I sleep enough hours in the night (most nights) to have thoughts beyond basic survival. I am slowly returning to myself, or rather my new self. Parenthood changes you.
I feel like I’m rediscovering what life on the “outside” is about: having a date night; going out with friends; figuring out who’s still out there from my old group of friends; finding new friends; working out and take care of myself; expanding my horizons so I can talk about something other than sleep regressions, potty training and picky eaters.
And then one kid or the other throws me a curveball and I have to cancel plans or take a step back from these other pursuits. And that’s okay. These little ones, they make my life rich.