They say that having a kid "changes everything". But 'they' say lots of things, they always have, and I've rarely cared to listen. Or at the very least, I've found that listening to all the 'things' that 'they' say doesn't lead me to a place 'I' want to be. Instead, it ties me up, pulls my eyelids open, and sits me down in front of the same crappy TV show about life that they've been watching, metaphorically, since forever.
So when Amelia came, I was ready. Preconditioned to tune out all the things I would undoubtedly overhear about my fate as a parent. Able to cleanly and decisively separate the useful from the harmful. Unafraid to face this new chapter with my raw nerves exposed for the benefit of the only 'they' that mattered, Amelia.
She'll turn 2 next month. So much has occurred in the last 23 months that most the memories are mushed together like colors of play doh. I have a picture in my mind of her on laying on towel on the kitchen counter. She's three days old. I'm feeding her in her sleep with a syringe. It's two in the morning. The dogs bark loudly at someone whistling on the street. Amelia is unfazed. Doesn't even open her eyes. It occurred to me that I was a father.
These moments are so valuable that I want to pick them all up, save them for some calmer time in my life, maybe when I'm 70. When I can fully appreciate their magnitude and significance.
So I do pick them up. But there's nowhere to put them. No place in my mind is big enough to fit their full meaning. No song or poem begins to do justice to the thing I'm watching everyday. So they all get mushed into that same jar like the Play DOh. They'll undergo a long series of reinterpretations over the next 50 years. They'll change sequence. And by the end, when I try to illustrate this experience for someone else, I'll be hard pressed to find a phrase better than, "it changed everything".