Ryan Reynolds talks about the stress and exhaustion of new parenthood
For the first two years of my child’s life, I checked to make sure he was breathing during every nap, nighttime sleep, or random time he closed his eyes. Every, single, time. I remember thinking, “this can’t be normal.” Turns out, it’s the most normal thing in the world. All new parents are paranoid — it just comes with the territory.
Ryan Reynolds talked to Men’s Health this week and admitted that he, too, falls victim to the vitals check: the incessant checking to make sure your child is breathing, every time they close their eyes. “I still check on her in the middle of the night and put my fingers under her nose just to make sure she’s still breathing,” he said. “Is that insane? I feel like it might be a little bit insane.”
No, it’s not insane. I mean, it totally feels insane at the time, but it’s called “parenting.” I used to come home from work and hover over my child’s crib, not to stare at him lovingly, but to check for the rise and fall of his chest. Yup. He’s breathing. Parenting success!
If I woke in the night to use the bathroom, there was another crib check. Yup. Still breathing! I understand why I did it in the beginning. Every doctor in the land terrifies parents with SIDS horror stories. Don’t co-sleep! No crib bumpers! No pillows! No blankets! Is that a freaking teddy bear? What are you, crazy? To hear them tell it, it’s a miracle that any child makes it through the night alive.
The question is — why I’m still occasionally doing it now? Or more importantly — will I be doing this for the rest of my children’s lives? I’m beginning to wonder if my mother checks if I’m breathing when I visit her. Got to make a mental note to ask her that.
The constant worrying may explain the exhaustion many parents complain about. Are we ever really relaxed? Or are we too busy worrying about whether our kids are alive? “During those first six months, it’s amazing that you find a way to keep going,” Reynold’s told Men’s Health. “Just the lack of sleep, and the hallucinations. F— peyote. You want to trip balls? Have a kid and see what it’s like to be awake for a month straight. You’ll have moments where you’re like, ‘Did I really ride a unicorn to work? I’m pretty sure I didn’t, but I don’t know.”
Turns out that it’s the experience of this sheer horror — day in and day out — that makes a parent, a parent. What else would explain the fascination with every little, insignificant thing our children do? Maybe we’re just totally shocked that we’ve somehow managed to keep them alive long enough to do anything at all.
Reynolds and wife Blake Lively just celebrated their daughter James’ first birthday. It’s good to know that the gorgeous couple is as freakishly paranoid as the rest of us.