Text and images by Ryan A. Bell.
“Your children are trying to kill me,” Lynette said attempting to open the back door with her free knee.
Our 17-month-old, Poppy, was balanced while squirming on her hip below the 8 months pregnant belly filled with our next problem child, another female with an undisclosed name. No-name’s breech and has made her mother’s body into a human washing machine filled with stompy shoes and a torpedo forehead. She dances like a tiny Patrick Swayze on Lynette’s cervix and pushes her head Alien style upwards above the belly button. A month ago we began to lovingly refer to her as “Butthead”.
Fatherhood’s like owning a pet velociraptors… you worry about timeframes… exactly how long until they’re able to kill you?
At this point in my life I realize that when they’re able to kill me I’ve basically accomplished my job. After that, I can die happily wherever they’ve planned for my demise to take place. If they’re deadly they’re safe…
Without further adieu here are the reasons that fatherhood is like meth addiction:
Before Poppy’s arrival I was comfortable 215 lbs of “not-muscle”. This is a scientific term meaning that I was made of toothpicks and marshmallow. I look at my beautiful wife with my head cocked and think, “is this woman a chubby-chaser?”
My succulent grape former self has raisined in the brutal sun of childrearing. Belt-loops now cinch my clothing on like a Iron-Age coin purse and T-shirts hang covered in berry, oatmeal and other detritus from my gaunt frame. The delightfully plump and huggable Ryan of yesteryear has morphed from comfortable E-Z chair to rickety folding chair.
The funny part is that there was no diet or plan… not even an exercise regiment. I just went from Lane Bryant to Forever 21 in the span of a year.
Screw you Jenny Craig, those meals look awful.
I’m guessing that it’s the lack of time that I have to care for myself. I rarely cook food for me because I know there will be an adequate amount of floorfood knocked angrily from a highchair. I eat dirty bananas, hairy eggs and slivers of sweet potato with grit on them and I don’t care. It saves me the time to go to the trash can and the money that we spent on the food.
When my first child was tiny and pink I would sit up and hold the Samsung baby monitor and watch her sleep. I obsessed. Was she going to die? During sleepless nights I’d look at the history of SIDS and it seemed that each decade there was a different sleep position that was going to kill your child.
I couldn’t think of picking out tiny coffins or stop my mind from going into maddening abysses of despair.
When I wasn’t obsessing about her death I was dealing with how strong and red and screaming she was in her life. I slept like I was on a deadline every night. The darkness was always there but sleep never took me.
My sound sensitivity has reached a Peter Parker equivalency. My hypervigilance can tell the difference between the bump of a forehead and a heel against the wall from 3 rooms away. I sense temperature by sight and I can tell the exact threshold of volume that I can have a television on before a child wakes up.
Dear Lord, it’s tiring to use all of your senses at full capacity. Please let me turn it off? Oh… I can’t? Well, at least I’m able to talk to God. Hello God, It’s me Ryan…
That’s pretty methy, huh?
(and asking an invisible audience questions… that’s questionable too)
My wife has somehow managed to retain her beauty through the war but I, on the opposing spectrum, feel like I’m looking at an anti-drug poster when I look in the mirror in the morning. My face is built of dehydrated crows feet crossing a Sahara landscape of beaten trails and scars.
My whole regiment of self-care has taken a serious beating. I brush my teeth but I have a feeling that my dentist is going to shoot me when he sees the state of unfloss that I’ve allowed to get my teeth into. I imagine a rotting assortment of meats, nuts and cheeses not dissimilar to a UK dinner. My barber looks at me like a homeless man when I come in and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have some kind of food on my body or clothes.
In the end, parenthood is much like a very good drug and I’ve been hooked since day one and I consider myself a very good father. To tell you the truth, it’s been fun to watch myself die and, in the end, it will be worth it.
We give ourselves to the ones we love and there’s nothing more admirable or beautiful than that. Parenting is the most difficult and most rewarding thing I’ve ever experienced and if you think you’re ready for it… you’re not and if you don’t think you’re ready for it… you probably are.
In conclusion I’d like to point out that I realize there are touchy subjects in this article. There are people out there that have a problem and often they don’t talk about it… maybe they think they have it under control. I want to point out that if you do have a problem that there are services and groups out there that can help you. Your first step is to ALWAYS talk to your family and friends. There is support for you and you’re NOT lost. Get help. People love and appreciate you even if you think you’ve been forgotten. People are there for you even if you think you’re past help.
The preceding goes for any crystal meth readers as well.
Thanks for calling me out WebMD! (hyperlink below)