Thursday, June 13, 2013

They come in pairs

It's been oft-observed that newborns/babies/toddlers are a lot like drunks. Either they can’t speak, refuse to speak, or speak incoherently in their loudest outside voice. They cry for no damn reason. They don’t do what you tell them to do, or even cooperate with you when you try to do something for them. They are easily distracted, prone to wandering off if left unattended. They can be surprisingly, mindlessly strong, yet they flop around bonelessly and force you to carry them. Sometimes they throw up on you!

What I haven't heard expressed as much (or at all) is that being the parent of a newborn/baby/toddler is a lot like being drunk yourself. I've found this to be the case, at any rate, especially in the newborn phase. Dealing with a very small child isn’t reminiscent of dealing with a drunk when you’re sober, it’s a lot more like dealing with someone six sheets to the wind when you are also slightly incapacitated.

This may, I admit, be a bit of experiential bias on my part. Tally up and chart the misspent nights of my youth and the tallest column would be above the heading Nights When I Was The Wrecked One Being Taken Care Of, with a much, much shorter column beside it labeled Nights When I Was Pretty Buzzed But Taking Care Of Someone Else In Worse Shape. The highly elusive Nights When People I’d Be Inclined To Take Care Of Went Out Drinking Without Me, Or I Went Along But Abstained would not necessarily register. So that’s my personal context.

Mainly it comes down to sleep deprivation, which is inescapable when you have a baby. So all you want to do is go to sleep, so much so that you have trouble holding your eyes open, and yet your drinking buddy is clamoring for another bottle. You feel punchy, and occasionally downright dizzy. Your inhibitions go down and you’re liable to lose your temper more easily. You have the munchies (like All. The. Time.)

And yet, you do feel an outsized amount of indulgent love for the person who is keeping you away from your bed and/or functional clearheadedness. You don’t want to encourage their antics, and yet you often find yourself giggling at the crazy things they do or say (or try to do or try to say while sailing wildly wide of the mark). These are not the rational actions of someone who is in a completely different state of chemical equilibrium from the bundle of chaos in their nominal stewardship. They’re more the marks of a co-conspirator, an equal offender who just happens to be the slightly more highly functioning half of the pair at the moment. That’s the way it strikes me, anyway.

(Just for the record, this is a thought that was foremost in my mind probably six to eight weeks ago. This is about the time when it has finally become funny to me.)


  1. Just have to say that this post was AWESOME. Made me laugh several times. And that image = priceless.

    1. Thanks - I'm always happy to make people laugh. I can't really take credit for the photo, which just popped up in an image search for "drunk baby". There is a whole huge Drunk Baby meme out there on the web, with lots more laughs to be had if you Google it!