At the lunch break, I was talking with a few other librarians, all childless and younger than me.
"When I have a baby and I'm on mat leave, I'm going to go to all the baby storytimes all over town!" one of them said.
"Yeah! Yeah! Me too! That'll be so great!" the others echoed.
"Yeah, I thought we'd go out and do lots of stuff too," I said. "But what happens is, first the baby needs a diaper change. Then you need to gather up all your stuff to go out, and that takes a while. Then she's hungry and you need to feed her. Then she falls asleep. Then you need to eat something and maybe go to the bathroom. Then she wakes up and her diaper needs changing again. And by then she's hungry again, and then it's dinner time, and then...time for bed!"
They stared at me as if I'd just recited a dirty poem in fluent ancient Greek. Because I am psychic, or maybe because I used to not have a child, I know what these extremely nice, smart, energetic young women were thinking: they were thinking that I was insane, or at the very least that as a baby-parent I had been criminally disorganized. They would not be like that, slaves to routine, housebound and scattered! They would sling those babies on their hips and get out into the world!
Well. Maybe they will. Truth is, eight years later, I can't exactly remember why I didn't, just that I, too, had thought I would be out and about all the time with the baby, but that when it came down to it, it all seemed incredibly, weepingly, Sysiphianically hard.
And I wasn't even (mostly) the at-home parent, except for the first three weeks and then Tuesday afternoons for a few months after that. (And Jewish holidays.) It was at least as hard for the Renaissance Woman, though if I remember right, she did a spectacular job of getting the two of them out of the house on a regular basis.
This training brought it all back for me, though in a hazy, faraway kind of way, like the memory of a fire alarm in the middle of the night. Which was what a lot of it was like, come to think of it: staggering around sleepily, aware that something urgently important was happening, but unable to wake up enough to grasp its exact significance.
I have to remind myself of this when MG is having one of her full-on earthshattering meltdowns (as has happened twice this evening): it's easier now. And God knows, I was one of those nodding fervently and knowingly at that training last week, when the trainer said that in her opinion all new parents are in need of extra support, and that in this culture having a baby increases a family's isolation profoundly, and that just getting to a library program can be incredibly difficult.
Yep. Yep. Yep. I may not remember it well, but I remember it, all right.