When you become a parent for the first time there are a lot of people willing to bestow their wisdom. In retrospect, most of the advice we got does have some truth to it, but in reality it really all depends how you look at things. Now that I am a new Dad and am somewhat qualified to give advice of my own, I strive to stay away from the general bits of advice I was given (sleep now because you won’t later, etc), and offer an even more general one: “Your life is about to change.” I heard this often BP (before Penny) and never really took it to heart. And now I find myself saying this more often and without further explanation, because it’s simply a hard thing to explain. But I am going to try.
Your life does change. I have never been more sleepy or happy in my life. The thought of our lives before Penelope seems like a very distant memory even though it was only about 14 weeks ago. BP I would love the thought of sleeping in, and now there are days where I wish I could, but I look forward to getting up with Penny at 6:00 am even more. She always has this huge beautiful smile and I love to watch her stretch as we sing her our morning song. It is the same song my mom sang to me as a baby.
I look forward to getting home after a long day at work too, but not for the same reasons as before. I used to look forward to taking a rest and winding down while watching a good show. That is not the case anymore. Now, I cannot wait to get home and hold our daughter and give her a kiss on those giant cheeks. Each night we try to go for a walk and I love to carry her and keep her close. More and more lately we have conversations when I get home. The sounds of her coos and noises as she practices talking is the best conversation I have all day. These signs of her becoming more of a person are amazing and a constant reminder that she will continue to grow faster than my brain can process it.
The nights going out on a whim and staying out late are also minimal. Or nonexistent. I loved to get home from work on a Friday night and just decide to go downtown for dinner and be able to leave at a moment’s notice. Now, we have a routine that we try to stick to for all of our sanity. And I love our routine because it involves being with Penny. Now it is a routine, not a schedule. And my favorite routine of all is our bedtime routine. I look forward to our bedtime routine most of all. I take Penny up to her room, change her into some cute PJs, put her in an overnight cloth diaper, and then Mel nurses her. During this time I read Harry Potter to Mel and Penny. We are currently on The Sorcerer’s Stone, about two-thirds of the way through. It is fun to make up voices for each character and to hear Mel laugh at some ridiculous line from Dumbledore. We take time to burp Penny and then we take a seat on her comfy sheepskin rug to read a book. Some nights are better than others, depending on how tired she is. Sometimes we can get through two books, other times it may only be two pages. Once she gets sleepy enough to let us know she is ready for bed, I swaddle her and rock her to sleep.
These are the moments that have taught me to live in the moment. Some days feel repetitive, others seem completely different. Some nights Penelope falls asleep quickly, others she cries for 10 minutes and then takes another 45 minutes to fall deeply into sleep. But either way they are special and are so different from the life we had BP. I would not change it for the world. There is no way to truly describe how it is different but to express how wonderful it is. There is nothing like holding your daughter, rocking her to sleep, and looking down at her dozing off and knowing that this is where you are meant to be.