April 11, 2008

Growing Pains
Miami Beach, United States

I think I've upset Tatiana quite a bit this morning/afternoon.

Aidric has been annoyingly fussy and difficult recently—to the point where Tatiana thinks he might be teething, though there are no visual indicators of such development. With a month now completed in Miami, I'm really starting to feel particularly cooped up and under stimulated in this place.

I try to get outside as often as I can, but Aidic usually finds his own finicky ways to limit these outings. Taking walks with him in the stroller for a few hours in the mornings has been a routine that I've been trying to get in the habit of for a while now. Even though I'm far from a morning person, it's pretty much the only way that I can give Tatiana the peace and quiet she needs in the mornings to sleep without interruption.

This morning both Aidric and I were a bit grumpy, and he started wailing inconsolably just a block down the boardwalk. Frustrated and not in the mood, I made an abrupt u-turn, took him back to the hotel room, dumped him in his crib, and walked off.

I returned a few hours later to find a solemn Tatiana, displeased with how I'd acted.

During the rapid exchange of remarks, I said something that hurt her… that "keeping Aidric happy is a hollow, empty experience."

No parent I've ever met said raising a kid was easy, and I know one father that told me flat out that it could be quite the opposite.

I'm having a hard time dealing with the unhappiness that's been growing inside me. I don't dwell on the negatives, but it's hard not to notice the changes and difficulties. It's not one single thing, but a combination of them (with many building off a momentum that started when I arrived in Lima this past November):

  • I dislike being stationary for prolonged periods of time.
  • I have zero social life outside e-mail. I'm not meeting or conversing with anyone new.
  • Neither Tatiana nor I are sleeping enough. Aidric's first morning wakeup call is typically around 5:30, and by 7:30 he's up and demands to be entertained (which falls to me, since Tatiana gets home around the time he wakes up for his first feeding).
  • I'm tired of the amount of preparation and time it takes to get Aidric and Tatiana out of the hotel room to go somewhere—Sample Aidric checklist: Feed Aidic and ensure clean diaper; make sure he's in proper attire; gather and take stroller, diaper, bottle of water, powdered formula, blankets, eye mask, washcloth, pacifier, etc, etc, etc…
  • I'm tired of getting vomited on, and cleaning up regurgitated milk/formula.
  • And I'm growing very tired of spending most every moment of the day focused on keeping Aidric from crying, walking on eggshells whilst he sleeps, or playing the decipher my furious, inconsolable screams of rage game for the umpteenth time.

To put it frankly, Aidric is a little white time leech—living birth control.

Few things stifle the libido greater than living with an infant.

"Craig and Tatiana time" has all but disappeared. Given Tatiana's work schedule—which often finds her gone from the early evening until just before daybreak, and then sleeping until noon or later (if she can)—the only time we have together is in the afternoons, when Aidric is awake and wants to be entertained/interacted with. It's difficult to find time to be intimate.

I want Aidric to be a part of my life, not all of it.

On most any given day, I'm changing the majority of Aidric's diapers and feeding him his meals. There's maybe only six hours or so that Tatiana is awake, and available to help mind the child.

After I wash Aidric and put him to bed for the night (sometime around 9-10 p.m.), I typically have two or three hours of personal time before I can't stay up any longer and crash. I want to write and do Travelvice activities, but often fail to find the energy or desire.

I'm basically a housewife, without a house. My days revolve around Aidric, and keeping him happy. It's impossible to do anything during the day that requires a block of time greater than 45 minutes.

I try not to feel ungrateful though—I'm sure there are thousands or millions of fathers out there who wish they had the opportunity to spend as much time with their newborn son as I do with Aidric.

But I think what's really starting to depress me is that it's only going to get more complicated as time progresses. Every passing month and year will add in new variables and quirks into the equation—from crawling to credit cards. That these are likely the easiest times worries me.

Tomorrow is my 28th birthday, and I don't even feel like celebrating…

The climate is so lovely here in southern Florida that I'd be spending 15 hours a day outdoors if my son weren't keeping me anchored to this room most hours of the day. Shirtless and shoeless is my lifestyle of preference, lounging in the shade or walking in the sand. I deeply enjoy staying up late, waking without an alarm, and the stimulation of new sights, smells, tastes, and experiences.

I'm a somewhat selfish person, and I don't think Tatiana understands that having a baby isn't going to flip a magic switch and suddenly turn that part of me off. It doesn't mean that I don't love Aidric any less; it just means that his presence adds some complex points of friction and frustration in our lives.

I fear for aspects of my personality that will ultimately be sacrificed, repressed, or bludgeoned to a point where they no longer exist.

Do all men turned fathers experience these growing pains, or is it just me?

Tatiana and I talked not long after I left the room to type this (outside, on the hotel patio). Thankfully, one of us is always smart enough to be outgoing when there's some type of tension between us. Communication is paramount in so many aspects of life, and we're both direct enough that it's unlikely something will fester for long.

Holding a softly weeping Tatiana in my arms, watching Aidric behind her (propped up on the bed, watching the two of us and smiling gleefully at the sight of my face), she asked if I really meant what I said about taking care of him, and if I was really that unhappy.

"Sometimes it feels like I keep building something in the sand, only to watch the waves wash it all away," I replied. "I can't even remember the last time I had fun."

"Fun?" she said in a soft, inquisitive voice.

"Yeah, I can't even remember the last time I said This is fun."

(looking at Aidric)

"…But I just can't stay upset with him when he smiles at me—it melts my heart. I know that I alone am responsible for my own happiness, and that Aidric is worth the sacrifices."

"…Am I worth the sacrifice?" she questioned.

"You're not a sacrifice," I told her.

(sitting down on the bed)

"I only want you to be happy. I've always told you that you can leave if you're ever unhappy," she said.

"I'm not going anywhere, Tatiana. I know I'd be much unhappier without the two of you in my life. We'll get this all figured out."

"…I love you," she said softly.

"I love the both of you too," I replied.

Comments:

The United States

Bob L

April 12th, 2008

Welcome to the world of adults. In the world of most adults you cannot just walk away or avoid conflict. A large chunk of your life is dictated by the actions of others. It is not all just fun and games. Many people don't do well, especially in the beginning. I expect you will do very well. The key thing is to make it as much fun as possible and dwell on the good, not the bad. Use your travel experience to turn each day/event into somewhat of an adventure. You have already done more than most fathers, traveling with a newborn. Most men go back to work a day or two after the birth and continue their dreary lives with little contact with their children. And for most, a quick trip to see grandma is more torture than they can bear. Maybe you can turn this, or another web page into a traveling family advice page.

You are doing great, you will adapt.

Bob L

The United States

Glenn

April 12th, 2008

28?! OMG, you're old! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

Peru

Melissa B.P

April 12th, 2008

I have friends who have been reproducing themselves since they were teens, they made it somehow and some others that are dealing with college, a kid and a husband. Aidric is very lucky to have smart and strong (adult)parents. He is a healthy and beautiful baby so whatever you are doing, keep doing it.

The United States

Aunt Julie

April 13th, 2008

Parenting is a huge challange that changes daily!!
Happy Birthday!!

The United States

Natashia

April 13th, 2008

Happy Birthday Craigers!!!!!!!!

I just got done reading up on travelvice and have soooooo many comments!!!!! hahaha! First of all I hope that you have a wonderful birthday!!!! I hope that you can find that happiness that you deserve on your birthday and in every day! The thing is, is that you are so innovative with your life, I find it hard to believe that you would be the type of person that wouldn't be able to get out of this rut you are describing at times. I see you as a person that will innovatively create the change you want to see in your life. Look at how you have accomplished that already!

I must admit (I think I've known you long enough to be honest) haha! I about freaked out reading part of your last entry. (shocking… I know, being a girl) As a woman that sees herself put on this earth for one thing, it's hard for me to imagine the feelings that you are experiencing as a father. I wasn't being judgemental, really! I just saw myself in awe, not really understanding your descriptions of your life now. You'll be happy to know, and to my complete surprise, after finishing one of the most amazing entries I think you've ever wrote, I found myself being more proud of you than I ever have been. It's and AMAZING thing when people are raw and honest and REAL! This is real life, it describes to me what the REAL life would be like even if "I" stepped into the role I feel I was built for. Who's to say even I would feel the exact same way in your situation or even in my own situation with the "simple" addition of only one human life. I admire your honesty. I believe it NEVER works out the way we've always dreamed, it is life. There are hickups. Its just how you handle them, and I am so proud of you that you have the guts to be open about your reality. I don't think anyone can give you any advice on this part of life. And thankfully so! you don't need it. I'm impressed with how you live your life. I'm impressed with how you've grown. I'm impressed with how you've developed and changed. I'm impressed with how you've stayed the same. I'm impressed at how you strive to not lose yourself amongst a life of great change. I'm impressed with your sense of adventure and yearning for more. And I'm impressed by your raw nature and REAL life. Lastly, I'm honored to have witnessed it.

Happy Birthday Craig!

Looking forward to the rest,
Tash

The United States

Jen Flom

April 14th, 2008

Hey Craig,
My son is now 18 months old, and I completely understand where you are coming from. My husband and I wanted our child and were fortunate enough to be able to "plan" it, but it is still difficult. I love my child more than I can describe, but that doesn't mean I love every moment of motherhood. There are times when I am home alone with him and as soon as dad gets home, I hand him to dad and I'm done. I don't want to hold him anymore, I just want to be able to have some time to myself. I never understood this until I experienced it. I think you have captured feelings that most parents feel at times. Thank you for sharing the realities of parenthood. It is tough, but when you see your child light up when you walk in the room, you realize it is all worth it.

The United States

Dianne C

April 15th, 2008

Hi, Craig. Hang in there. While there is always some level of preparation you'll have to do to get out of the "house" with your little one, trust me when I say as they get older it really does get easier to do so and takes less time. By the time my daughter was a year old, I had gotten to the point where we could pretty much just pick up and leave within a 10 minute window if I wanted. I kept her bag filled with things I knew would keep her entertained, snacks, etc. so that I didn't have to remember to pack things on the way out the door. Being a parent is labor intensive but doesn't mean the death of you as an individual or your relationship with your significant other. Make time to focus on yourself and your relationship and you'll be a much happier and fulfilled individual, "spouse," and parent. I know, blah, blah, blah [heard it all before], blah, blah, blah. =0)

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