There’s a common phrase about parenting: “The days are long, the years are short.”
The days ARE long when you have a baby. Especially when you have a baby that only takes a half-hour nap. And when you have a non-napping child and no handy relatives to help?
A day feels equal to a year.
A day feels like a century.
Even with an occasional babysitter, Baby D and I were usually outside by 4 PM, waiting on the steps for Daddy to come home. Baby D thought it was because we loved Daddy. But really, it was because I literally could not wait another second to hand him off to someone else.
Any stay-at-home parent knows exactly what I mean. You judgey fuckers who think staying home is easy and going to work is hard? You have clearly never parented a child without stuffing them in a playpen or parking them in front of a screen. I’ve worked for/ with some of the most demanding assholes in Hollywood. I would rather spend an entire week at the American Film Market fending off Harvey Weinstein’s acquisition phalanx (yes, I did that) than one day with Baby D when he was sick or teething.
I cracked one day when Andy moaned about how hard work was.
I asked, “Does your boss scream at you every time you don’t guess his needs in advance? And does he do this ten times a day? Has he bitten your nipples? Does he throw things at you when you do something he doesn’t like, except he doesn’t tell you what he does like? Does your boss follow into the bathroom? Does he poop, puke, or pee on you? Did he hit you in the eye with Toby the Tank Engine? Does he give you more than one half-hour break? Is your workday from 5 AM until 4-5 PM? No? Then you can take a goddamned seat.”
Andy meekly took that seat, especially after one short trip alone with Baby D.
The days were long. Sometimes the years were also pretty damned long. I took deep breaths and reminded myself that each challenging phase of Baby D’s life was not forever.
When Baby D screamed and pummeled his crib during sleep training, I murmured, “Only two more years until preschool. Then I will have three whole hours to myself almost every day.”
When tantruming three-year D kicked and hit the door I held shut, I chanted, “Just 2 more years until kindergarten. Then I will have five whole hours alone. Just two more years.”
When kindergartener D howled, “You don’t love me, YOU NEVER LOVED ME OR CARED ABOUT ME,” and broke his closet door because I would only let him watch two episodes of The Clone Wars, I whispered, “Next year, he will be in school for six whole hours. SIX!”
When my kid insisted on endless summer Nerf Wars (while throwing a fit if any of my shots actually landed), I thought, “Just a few more years until I can put him in Junior Life Guards for half the summer!” Then I shot him in the butt.
When D whined and complained about the 1.25 mile uphill walk to school, I muttered, “Just 5 more years until middle school. He can walk himself! And I will have seven hours! Seven glorious hours with no immediate demands or whining or tantrums!”
There is no school.
There will be no summer programs.
My child and I are together again for the foreseeable future.
Just like working parents who never planned on working from home and their children. Those folks are discovering the joys of having their kids 24-7; the noise, the constant demand for attention, the fights over screen time, the fights over exercise, the fights over bedtime, the fights over homework, the fights over food.
There is no escape, parents.
Welcome to the long days.
Welcome to a world where each month is an eternity.
Take a deep breath and repeat after me:
“Just one more year until they find a vaccine.
Just one more year…”