Sometimes I think parenthood is just one long, slow descent into insanity. It starts when you are expecting your first child, and some kind of weird madness seizes your brain, causing you to spend hours contemplating the difference between different brands of diaper or formula, agonizing over the effect that subtle differences may have on your baby. In my case, I did this, and then spent my first nine weeks with my daughter in a third-world country, where I quickly gained some perspective on whether different brands of diapers and formula really mattered. It was my first lesson in “Things which seem to be very important at one stage of parenthood may later be revealed to be trivial and meaningless” – my first lesson in how parenthood drives even a sane and rational person act a little nuts. Little did I know that obsessing over diapers was just the first of many nutsoid acts I would commit over the next several years.
The ride to Crazytown continues when you spend hours planning a first birthday party for a person who is barely aware that other humans exist, and plan the perfect cake for someone who not only doesn’t care what it looks like, but is just going to pound on it and smear it everywhere they can reach, including their own hair.
Every year you find yourself doing something that, objectively speaking, seems just plain nuts. And yet…here you are, with the best of intentions and love in your heart, doing that crazy thing for your child. Signing a two year old who hates the bath up for swimming lessons, as if any child learns to swim by being paraded around in a circle in their mother’s arms while embarassed adults wearing bathing suits in the winter sing “The Grand Old Duke of York.” Flooding the back yard to make a dining-table sized rink so a preschooler can wobble around and around in a pair of brand new skates that will be outgrown before the end of the season. Paying far too much money to book the big! fun! indoor playground! for a birthday party when the kids would be just as happy to run around the basement and eat cake at home.
Yes, every year of parenthood is another year of losing ground on your own sanity.
Until one day, you find yourself discussing plans for a home climbing wall with your husband. And you find yourself saying, “The only logical place to put it is the family room.” And then a couple of days after that you find yourself saying, “I know I said we should wait a few weeks, but I think we should start it now.” And very shortly after that, you’re vacuuming sawdust off the furniture and looking in the online classifieds for a used futon mattress to use as padding, and you’re saying to your oldest daughter, “Well it’s not quite finished, but Daddy says it’s safe, so yes, you can put up a couple of holds before you go to bed.”
We know it’s Crazy. Crazy in love.