Habitual Offender

As I was using the bathroom today, I took a look in the mirror and noticed that I had left the door open. This was an epiphanal (probably not a word) moment for me, as I realized just then how completely my life has changed.

See, life changes happen in three stages. The first is somewhat superficial — it’s just an acceptance of whatever it is that’s changed. From the trivial (I will eat vegetables) to the ordinary (I guess I’m not actually a 32 waist any more; I should really eat those vegetables) to the monumental (Let’s have a baby!). This stage really only involves an attitude change. It’s harder than it sounds, but it’s certainly the smallest of the hurdles.

The second stage is probably the toughest. Actually eating the vegetables. Seriously, unless they’re drenched, soaked, drowned in butter, they taste like the ground. Even then, they taste like buttered ground. Anyway, the second stage — making different choices — is tough. You’re fighting against instincts, muscle memory, a lifetime of developed preferences, and a decided dislike of broccoli. Seriously, it looks like a tree, and we don’t eat trees, do we? When it comes to having a baby, this part is the fun one. I’ll leave that to your imagination. Or, you know, 9th-grade health class.

The third stage takes a mighty long while, but it’s not one you actually have to do anything about directly. It happens after a sustained effort at that second stage, when those different choices stop being choices and start replacing the instincts, muscle memory, and developed preferences you were fighting against in the first place. Except broccoli. That ain’t happening.

I present this Psych-101 lecture as a way of introducing some of the new, odd, habits I only recently noticed after having a baby or two. I use the bathroom with the door open now. This is so that I can hear what my little trouble-maker is trouble-making. Some others:

  • I tie my shoes backwards now. This comes from tying Joshua’s for him as he’s learning how;
  • I cannot stop myself from calling it “The Potty” when talking to adults;
  • When standing, I sway back and forth, even when I am not holding a baby. I rocked a King’s Hawaiian Sweet Round for several minutes this weekend while talking on the phone;
  • If I’m out in public without my youngest and I hear a baby crying, I still look around to see if it’s mine;
  • Not actually sure if this is a habit or not, but most of my “Recently Watched” titles on Netflix have the word “alphabet” in them.
  • When people ask me for something without saying “please,” I have to consciously replace the social filter that keeps me from prompting them to do so. It doesn’t always work (sorry, cashier at the Nike outlet!);*
  • I talk about “having a baby” as if I did it. Jen gets too little credit for this. But then, I assume we all had a 9th-grade health class, so I doubt I’m misleading anyone.

There are more that, given the time, I’d happily add to the list, but this gets my point across.

What’s really interesting about the rocking is that it went dormant after I stopped carrying Joshua like that, but reemerged once Jack was born. When the nurses handed Jack to me in the O.R. after he was born, I started right away, without even thinking about it. Hadn’t done that in years, but there it was. It worked, too. Jack calmed down after a minute or two of it. A couple of months later, it still works, though the Sweet Round was less impressed.


*The cashier at the Nike outlet probably** does not read this blog.

**There’s always a chance!


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