If I fuss, I’m not fussing at you. Unless I am, in which case, you might deserve it. But I fuss because I love. Or because I’m hungry and hormonal. One of those things.
I’m eager to join the Sorority of Motherhood, but a great deal about it mystifies me. Among the many things I wish I understood: Why do parents want to make expectant parents believe that parenthood is so awful?
I’m not talking about people who didn’t want kids, either. I’m talking about people who wanted and love their children. People who are happy for you when they find out you’re going to have one of your own.
People who are delighted to point out that YOUR LIFE IS OVER! Mwa ha ha!
Let me give you some examples.
Me: “We go to movies at the dollar theater about once a week.”
Okay, so obviously, I am about to hit a stage in my life when my evening entertainment options are going to be sharply curtailed. No impromptu nights at the ballet for me for a few years! But will having a baby really mean that I can’t join the other parents-of-babies in the back row of the DOLLAR THEATER once a week or so? I mean, it’s a buck. If I have to go out into the lobby, so be it. Oh, and it’s not as if I don’t have family and friends in town — not to mention a growing network of teenagers and young adults — who couldn’t watch Pablo for a couple of hours.
Here’s another one:
Me: “I have a really busy weekend: class all day Saturday, and two different performances.”
You’re right. I’ve never had a busy weekend before. Quick, someone call early 2000s me and let me know how easy I’ve got it. Yes, of course I know that my life is going to get busier and busier as Pablo grows up, joins activities, and gains siblings. Heaven help me if he decides he wants to do soccer or ballet or something; I don’t think those parents ever see the insides of their homes. But given the wee tyke’s genetic makeup, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if those busy weekends consist of long trips to the library and occasional mathalons… which, trust me, will seem downright relaxing compared to this past weekend or to just about any weekend I ever had throughout college.
A standard theme:
Me: “I found a cute shirt on sale the other day.”
Dude. I shop at Ross, thrift stores, and clearance racks. Yeah, I’m a little bit enamored of the Tiny Clothes Section, and I know he’ll grow out of every thing the minute I put it on him. But somehow I don’t think I’ll magically lose the ability to clothe myself just because I’m a mom… and even if I do put my clothing-purchasing energies into kiddy clothes, that’s okay because I’m still enjoying myself. Right?
Here’s a recent favorite:
Me: “I’m enjoying the fact that I just got my car washed and vacuumed.”
Okay, so, really? I’m not a neat freak (as my mom reads this, she is probably laughing out loud) and I’ve never really prioritized having a spotless car. Heck, I’m one of those teachers who basically lives out of her car during the school year. Yesterday, as a gift/payment for some help I gave Ryan with his student council stuff (hey, I’m not above being bribed) I got my car washed and lightly detailed. It’s the first time that it’s been really clean since we bought it, and you know how much time it took? Half an hour. Do I know that kids stain upholstery and stuff Cheerios and pacifiers in places that you didn’t even know your car had? Of course I do! But do you know how many ooooold homework assignments, flattened granola bars, lost (unopened) cans of Coke, and forgotten thrift store book purchases you can find between the seat cushions on a car that has NEVER had a child in it? Because I do. And besides, just because there’s a car seat back there doesn’t mean that anyone is going to tell me:
I guess it’s just kind of getting to the point where I feel like people really want to make sure I know that
which is weird, because I know none of them actually believe that. Quite the opposite, actually. So maybe they’re just trying to tell me that
Nevertheless, it’s kind of off-putting. I’d been warned to expect horror stories about childbirth (which I don’t mind, actually, but which I haven’t really encountered) but not really about the onslaught of ENJOY IT NOW comments.
The thing is… I’m 32 years old, which I guess isn’t very old, but I’ve been married for almost nine years and have wanted to have a baby for several of those. We put it off for reasons of finances/job stability/insurance. Then, when we felt like our life situation had caught up with our desire to expand our family, we began trying — and had no luck. We went to doctors, did invasive tests, took medicine that made me very ill, injected hormones into my stomach, had to make split-second decisions about risky interventions. We spent surreptitious moments investigating the costs and logistics of adoption. We watched, sick at heart, while people we knew got pregnant with babies they didn’t want and, in some cases, didn’t have. We fought back feelings of bitterness and jealousy when we wanted to be congratulatory and happy for friends. We rode the neverending roller coaster of hope, results, and despair. Then we got pregnant, and then we had a miscarriage. And it was horrible. And then we got pregnant again, and this time it stuck.
God in heaven, we are ready for a little bit of stinky, fussy, time-consuming inconvenience in our lives. We are ready to not just be Ryan-and-Kate. We are ready to stop falling through the crack between “young singles” and “married with kids”; we’re ready to be able to put up family photos and to not be thoughtlessly scolded by students and relatives who want to know if we aren’t getting a little old to have not had any kids yet. We are ready for milk stains, soggy Cheerios, dirty diapers, soccer practices, ballet recitals, all-night barfing marathons, Chuck E Cheese…
Will I go on Facebook and exclaim at how different — how hard — how busy — my new life is? Almost certainly.
Will I complain sometimes? Probably — especially if there’s vomit involved. Or poop-painting. That’s gonna be “fun”.
But I wanted this. I want this.
So bring on the interrupted and skipped movies, busy weekends, outdated wardrobes, and dirty cars. I am more than ready.
My life isn’t over. My life — the life where I get to grow old surrounded by my children and grandchildren, the life where I get to do the one thing that seems truly important to me — is just beginning.