Saturday, May 12, 2007

I Love My Baby, But I Love Sleep, Too

I was tempted to ply upon dear reader(s) some sanctimonious rot about the joys of parenthood and how it has brought me to a new level of humanity, and has made me a better person, but that would be less honest than Alberto Gonzalez under oath.

The fact of the matter is that being a parent of a freshly minted baby is no party. So far, it hasn’t made me a better person or suddenly elevated me in some metaphysical way; it has made me more responsible by fiat.

“When are you going to be fun?” Wife asked Baby in the midst of an endless crying jag.

Now, I know there is at least one person saying, “That Bookfraud is a hypocrite, a fraud, and a rotten dad. He doesn’t love his son because he has suddenly developed an appreciation of nannies, especially those who look like Tiger Woods’ wife.”

It has always confounded me when new parents babble on about how great being a parent is -- their only regret is they wish they’d done it earlier. For me, that would be confusing love with happiness, and while I love Baby with a furor approaching insanity (an insanity not just from sleep deprivation), I can’t say that it makes me happy to wake up at 4 in the morning to care for one of Baby’s three needs (food, diaper, human contact). It fills me with joy I can help my son in any way possible, and I am glad I can care for the little bugger, but I miss my sleep, greedy bastard that I am.

Becoming a parent is far more rewarding than anything I’ve done, but the giddy happiness I felt the first time I held Baby in my arms has melted into the banal reality of newborn care. If wishing that Baby would do something besides cry, sleep, and soiling himself makes me a bad father, so be it.

Another sad fact of parenthood is that your brain is in no shape to write. The fact is that I’ve had time to blog, to write fiction, and work on that non-fiction mystery book I’ve alluded to before. It hasn’t been much time -- like when Baby sleeps -- but it has been something.

Like confusing love with happiness at the arrival of a child, I can confuse time with desire. I have precious little of the former and about none of the latter. And one can’t exploit one’s time without the desire to do so.

It’s not just the fact I’ve turned into a zombie action figure. It’s the priorities, and if ever there was a cliché that rings true, it’s that having a newborn changes your perspective.

Writing suddenly doesn’t matter. Little else matters than the child. Everything seems to filter through the prism of what’s best for Baby.

Your desire to complete other projects evaporates with your energy. In fact, I can’t even seem to finish this damn entry. I'm just going to post it now, complete with typos and poor word choices and all the flotsam and jetsam I pride myself in avoiding.