Child's Play:

The Return to Normalcy

By Justine Manzano

            Ask any mother, and they will tell you that being a mother completely changes you. But they sugar coat it. They say, ďOh my God, youíre life is never going to be the same. For the rest of your life, you will now be a mother!Ē And that sounds great. But what they donít tell you (unless they are a really good friendÖand actually notice the changes themselves) is HOW it changes you.

            There is a new baby in your home and now you must live for him. Very easily you slip into this life where everything revolves around him. When you go to a bookstore you walk to the kidís section, which you only really ever found yourself in when buying a book for your nephew. Where you would once read your magazines about the field of writing, you are now reading parenting magazines and constantly on the search for the best and cheapest formula, bottle and diapers. You suddenly know everything you need to know about first aid Ė just in case.

            Everything is a missed opportunity to be a toy. You find yourself finding a bottle of water interesting because of the grooves in it, emptying it, bringing it home and rolling it around in front of your kid to see how he reacts. You talk to the mural on your wall because your kid smiles every time he sees the monkey in it. You find it perfectly justifiable to dance around your living room, jump around and make silly faces because it keeps him from crying for those 2.5 seconds.

            In short Ė you turn into a kid. And itís fun.

            But one of the things that, no matter how many times they told me, I never got, was how much I would change, how much my adult interaction would change, with becoming a parent.

            You lose all sense of privacy. This is something I am attempting to fight against, as nobody really wants to know as much about you as you are suddenly willing to share now that youíre a mother. And this doesnít come from the baby himself. This comes from the pregnancy. Because when you are pregnant, nobody feels funny about asking you even the strangest questions. Some will ask you sweet, harmless questions with easy, unobtrusive answers. When are you due? How far along are you? Is it a boy or a girl? How are you decorating the nursery? Will you be a stay at home mom or a working mom? Then, some people ask you some really rude questions that make you wonder why they speak at all. Did you plan to have this baby? What does your husband think about you being pregnant? Arenít you kind of young? Do you plan to breast feed or bottle feed? How much did you throw up today? And my all time favorite, from a complete stranger, are you even married?

            Before you know it, you find yourself doing it too. You are no longer ashamed of registering for breast shields for your breast pump. You tell anyone near you that you just threw up in the bathroom. You donít even get too embarrassed when you sneeze-fart in the middle of a lecture hall because you no longer have any control over your bodily functions. And when people ask you how much you dilated before they skipped to the c-section, you gladly tell them 3 centimeters, because after spending a day and a half of having people come into your hospital room every couple of hours to shove their hands into your lady business (sometimes without any announcement, leaving you wondering, that was a doctor, right?) you find that privacy no longer matters.

            Until you go back to workÖand you realize that there are people who probably donít want to know that your baby couldnít latch onto your nipple or that your babyís poop smelled so rancid after breast feeding that you discovered he needed lactose free formula so you wouldnít suffocate from the smell and so he would stop being constipated.

            So, how do you go back to normal adult interaction after that? You have no filter, you think like a child, and have no other topics of conversation aside from that cute thing Logan did today. How does one return to normalcy? Well, Iíll let you know when I figure that out. Till then, Iím going to go see if I can change Loganís diaper without accidentally eating the pee he shoots out like a fountain. But you probably didnít want to know that, did you?

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