So it came as no great surprise when I happened upon an archive of a blog I started and abandoned in the space of three months back in early 2001. In those heady days when Blogger was relatively new and Pyra Labs still stalked the earth, I started a "blog", thinking it would immediately attract all manner of like-minded individuals who would enthusiastically begin to collaborate with me in the development of (what I self-importantly believed were) fantastic creative projects.
Needless to say, no one showed up. Not one comment, not one email of interest. Crickets.
In a fit of hubris I walked away from the blog and forgot about it. But true to form, prior to abandoning it, I archived everything. In the normal course of events it got burned onto a CD and filed.
Race forward (nearly) six years.
One of the little joys of being a compulsive archivist is getting letters from your past self. I stumbled upon that particular archive CD in my search for Something Else, and opened up the long-forgotten archive of the too-cleverly titled "Knocklong Press" blog.
99% of the content was, as it was then, utter crap, but hidden in it was a reflection on being the parent of two very young children (3 and 1 year old, respectively).
As the eldest of these two prepares for his ninth birthday, I realized I had forgotten just how soul-shatteringly weary parenting was in those days. Perhaps you, dear reader, have a better memory than I do, but it took the discovery of this piece to bring back all of those feelings that I had left behind six years ago.
Do you leave messages for yourself to remind you of where you've been, and who you once were?
Here's mine, from April 2001:
Oi vey, what a day. Roll out the screaming baby at 12:30am and 5:25am (yes, I looked at the clock) and you've got the makings of a topper.
Spring finally rolled up I-95 and stopped in northern Jersey before getting back on the road and heading for Connecticut. About effing time.
Thunderstorms rolled through about seven tonight, kept rolling for hours. The boy didn't like the storms; he got all clammy and agitated. Ultimately he fell asleep. Odds are he won't stay asleep. Odds are on any given night one of the two of them won't sleep. It's guaranteed.
It's amazing how noone (sic) tells you that sleep is the first thing to go once you have children. Intimacy with the spouse second. A close third is your ability to actually do anything without roughly an hour of prep-time. Thought you'd go out to dinner without a backpack full of amusements, jars of baby food, wipes (gotta have your wipes), extra diapers for the occasional crap-a-thon, medicine, whatever, and actually manage to finish your meal without having to take one of them for a tour of the joint? No way. They don't tell you this stuff. They keep it a secret so they can ruin someone else's life and laugh their ass off.
I think it's mostly the lack of sleep that's got me all bitter. And the kicker is - get this - to stay awake, you get all wired on coffee. Then you can't go to sleep.
Like all the other posts on that long-dead blog, there were no comments. So in the spirit of the moment, here's a comment to a dead blog post:
Sounds like a tough day - have courage, it gets better. Actually, that's wrong - it gets different. Over time you'll exchange the hardships of sleep deprivation for the hardships of dealing with teachers, of trying to teach morality and respect, of comforting them when you move them away from their friends and family. You'll deal with having to explain to them why daddy isn't working right now. In every way you'll put their interests first, certainly ahead of trivial things like sleep.
So enjoy your coffee, try to sleep, and endeavor to persevere. And lay off the blogging for a while, you have better things to do - most importantly, you need to make sure you remember the too-brief moment when your children are still very small, because the moment doesn't last. You'll forget what it feels like to hold them close to your chest and smell their hair as you rock them to sleep. You'll lose any memory of sliding them into high-chairs, of wrapping them up in bulky snow-suits. You'll never again see them climb into boxes on Christmas morning and shriek with joy as they play with the wrapping paper.
So enjoy where you are now. And for God's sake, say thank you to your wife more often. She deserves it.