Nina In New York: Beginning Again
A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
By Nina Pajak
Well hello again, Internet. It’s been some time. I trust you’ve been well? Oh, who am I kidding? I never stopped caring. It’s just that I’ve been sort of distracted for the last eight months.
Oh, me? I’m well, thanks for asking. In fact in many ways, I am a whole new me. The last time we spoke, I was extremely pregnant with feet so swollen I’d taken to wearing unlaced hiking boots to work. Now I’m not at all pregnant and I’ve got a baby girl, to whom we’ll refer henceforth as V. I quit my job to stay home with her full time. I live in an outer borough, which means I can buy paper products in bulk and frequent big box stores like it’s no big thing. I mean, I could totally join Costco but I just haven’t gotten around to it. Sorry, I’m just bragging now. In addition, motherhood has helped me to get in touch with my softer side, which means I
sometimes cry during the blind auditions on “The Voice” and occasionally use emoticons without irony and almost never bristle when others do the same. Did I mention I no longer work in an office and spend all day with a dog and an eight-month old baby? Conversation typically peaks at dadadadwawa-YA!, and I find myself inventing elaborate stories around her battery-powered, anthropomorphized toys. You see, the picnic basket and the teapot sound exactly alike except that one has an affected British accent. I suspect some sort of “Parent Trap” type switcheroo at birth and plan to reunite the two when I feel they’re both ready. One’s got an irksome preoccupation with manners and the other never shuts up about shapes, so communication thus far has been challenging.
Heaven help me when those AAs die. Heaven. Help. Me.
In all seriousness, having V really did change everything, and close to a year later I’m still trying to figure out how to right the ship in a way that feels good for everyone. It’s the sort of thing that’s probably gobsmackingly obvious to every single person reading this who has already had children, of course, and sometimes I feel silly for letting it take me by surprise. It’s not like friends and family didn’t warn me about the challenges of parenthood. But those are the kind of warnings that have no use without the proper context, and you can only understand that context once you’re deep, deep in the middle of it, laughing, sobbing and screaming your head off. Words like “difficult,” “exhaustion,” “terrifying,” and “sacrifice” were thrown at us frequently but remained essentially meaningless until V entered our lives.
For instance, I never realized I could lose track of when the last time was I’d brushed my teeth. That three consecutive hours of sleep could be the best feeling in the world. That I could be vomited on five to ten times a day and it wouldn’t make me wretch. That danger is literally lurking around every turn, whether in the form of a human predator or an inanimate threat. That I would ever care more about another person’s bowel movements than my own. That I could be made to feel so incredibly powerless, clueless and downright stupid by a tiny little creature who only recently discovered she has feet.
Of course, words like “love,” “wonderful,” “joy,” and “fulfilling” have taken on new significance to me, as well. It’s impossible to untangle them from the scarier words, but they’re just as present—and rather mandatory. You can’t be literally elbow-deep in poo at 5:00 am and recover without them. At least, I don’t think you can.
I don’t want to come across like one of those new mothers who’s all “I know everything about life and love and relationships and the world now that I have a baby and I’m connected to the Universe in a way that’s, like, totally important blah blah blah gag barf.” Believe me, I know far, far less than everything. And now I’m here to share that utter lack of knowledge and my quest for . . . uh . . .
more less less of it with the fine people who populate our little corner of the internet.
Don’t worry. This won’t become one of those interminable blogs in which the author ruminates on the family bedtime routine for 1200 words. I’ll still rant and rave about city happenings and such, because I do still live in the world and have made it a 2014 resolution to go back to caring about more than my daughter’s pancake intake and whether I should have held off on making Bloomberg jokes to the new mom I met at baby music class. Yeah, that’s right. Baby music class. Do I narrate every move I make, aloud, even when I’m alone? Sure. Do I hum “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” to myself in the shower? Maybe. Does it take me a week to make it all the way through an issue of Us Weekly? Yes, yes it does. But I’ve still got a point of view and I’m ready once again to express myself in complex sentences and multisyllabic words. Please, I need this. I’m a stay at home mom, not a lobotomy patient. Yet.
Nina Pajak is a writer living with her husband, daughter and dog in Queens. Connect with Nina on Twitter at @NinaPajak!