It’s been a stressful day. I’m feeling run down, and I need a little sumthin-sumthin to pick me up. Fortunately, I’ve got a regular source in my back pocket, and I’m on my way there now. I park the car and rush in, skitter down to the basement, slip in to the room. As soon as I lay eyes on my prize, I can feel myself calming down already. A blissful smile breaks across my face.
Perhaps it’s true. Perhaps I actually am addicted to my kid.
After reading the Time article linked above, I felt concerned for my own well-being, and pulled up an online list of addiction symptoms, just to put my mind at ease. Unfortunately, several of the items ring all too true:
Extreme mood changes – happy, sad, excited, anxious, etc
Life is so wonderful! I’ve never been happier! Except when I manage to make myself feel like the worst mom on the planet. And I start thinking of all the things I’ll miss because I’m not around my son 24/7. And then I think about all the terrible things that could befall him while he sleeps and tiptoe furtively into his room, hoping not to be spotted. I watch him sleeping, and… life is so wonderful!!
Sleeping a lot more or less than usual, or at different times of day or night
I’ve had this one in spades for the past 16 months. We’ve only just started getting consistent through-the-night sleeping, and in fact I’m hesitant to even mention it for fear of jinxing it.
Changes in energy – unexpectedly and extremely tired or energetic
All of a sudden, I’m actually awake at 7 a.m. and clear-minded enough to assemble all the things we’ll need for an entire day out. We go and go and go! Then we come home, Kiddo goes to bed, I wander downstairs, and collapse in a heap.
Weight loss or weight gain
Granted, I did drop about forty pounds since Kiddo’s birth. But I’m sure you’ll be reassured to know that it’s making its way back to me, slowly.
Changes in social groups, new and unusual friends, odd cell-phone conversations
So I’ve started running with a new crowd, what’s wrong with making new friends? And they’re all really nice people, you’d like them in an instant. “Latching on”? “Blowouts”? “Handling smacks”? Totally not odd, not in the least. Right?
Whatever. I’m sure I’m not an addict. After all, I–hold on, Kiddo is crawling into my lap. I need to give him a big hug and sniff his just-washed hair. MMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmm. Sorry, what was I saying?
Right, the article. Am I addicted to my kid? I prefer Time’s take on it:
Why else would behavioral studies find that the most addictive pattern of reinforcement is not consistent bliss, but inconsistent and unpredictable rewards? Loving each other is hard and not always pleasant; taking care of children certainly includes as much pain as it does pleasure. In other words, humans evolved “addiction regions” in the brain not so we could become junkies, but more likely so we would persevere in love and parenthood.
Suddenly it makes sense why, after struggling through the newborn and toddler years, we’re willing to go out and do it again, and again and again.