The moment you become a parent, people will tell you, your life will change – forever. No argument here. I will never watch another news broadcast about a missing child or a baby killed by poison gas in Syria without having to hold back hot tears (that doesn’t mean you have to have kids to be devastated by these stories, of course). But there are a lot of other things people say about parenthood that is mostly bullshit, depending who you talk to. Did I love my child the moment I laid eyes on him? Absolutely. But I know plenty of people wracked with guilt, because they felt nothing. Zero. Parenting is a wilderness with many paths, and I’d like to think most of us eventually find our way to the love.
When people describe parenthood as one great wave of joy, I suddenly feel like I’ve been surfing off the wrong beach, because there are moments of great joy, when a simple hug floods me with a transcendental kind of love, but there are also times when I want Scotty to beam me up.
There is also all the shit no one tells you, like the intensity of sleep deprivation in the first year of parenthood. No one sat me down and said, “Look, Rob, you won’t be you for a while. It’ll be your body, yes, but your mind will have exploded like a supernova. You’ll go to work, but you won’t be able to think clearly, string a sentence together without stu-stuttering, and you will lose your shit on people for almost anything.”
Finally, I received no warning from my parenting friends that I would necessarily have to put down many of my creative projects for the first year in order to give the time and mental energy to loving and caring for this little creature, who came streaking into our lives like a meteor of love and poop.
For me, it was a real adjustment to go from an expansive world largely free of schedules, where a 5 hour bike ride in the countryside or a 9 hour session working on my book project was a regular occurrence, to focusing down on all the minutia of parenthood: the loads and loads of laundry to be done, what dinner is going to be, or who is doing daycare pickup. Note to self: Tonight is bath night!
This radical overnight shift in priorities can be pretty disorienting, especially for those with a strong independent streak, and the reality is that the desire to express ourselves creatively doesn’t just die – it languishes for a time. All this is my long-winded way of introducing a few cool parental expressions of imagination. Please send more links to projects you like — child-centric or not — and I’ll be sure to add them to the post.
Queenie Liao’s photographs of her sleeping son:
Lilly and Leon Mackie’s CardBoard Box Office brought Hollywood movies home:
Jaime Moore’s thoughtful photography of her daughter dressed as famous women: