I’m here to say to all those considering parenting, be careful. Be very careful indeed. It’s a thing you definitely want to think about before doing. Which is probably why the human gestation period is 40 weeks – to give you plenty of time to wrap your head around the idea. And buy all those baby things, of course. It truly is one of those things that you can’t fully appreciate. Until you get there, you just have no idea how much your life is going to change. Becoming a parent is a whole lot like having something big and scary hurtle towards you at a great rate of speed. Kind of like if a giant robot were about to overtake you in some badly sub-titled movie. It’s not that the robot is truly bad. In fact, the robot is actually just a whole lot bigger than you and horribly misunderstood. And, of course, you and your sanity will never be the same, even if you do manage to avoid getting trampled.
The level of insanity seems to be proportional to the number of car/booster seats you ultimately purchase. More kids, more car seats. More car seats, more crazy. Keep that mantra running through your head next time you head over to pick up one of those ovulation kits. Remember that bumper sticker you used to make fun of back in the late 70s, “Insanity is heredity. You get it from your kids.” Seems somebody may have been onto something. In order to avoid the equivalent of putting your sanity (and intelligence, but that is a matter for another day) in your Cuisinart and hitting “frappe,” start by getting yourself a decoder ring. You’ll be glad you did.
Now, before you start wondering just what kind of mother I really am, you can smooth out your knickers. I totally love my kids and can’t imagine just how empty and bereft my life would be without them. I can’t say that I always fully appreciate the complete range of their antics, but I do love them. It is just a bit overwhelming sometimes, that’s all. Kids take a whole lot of patience and energy. And parenting seems to suck the patience and energy out of me faster than I can make it. So far, I’ve been attempting to off-set the energy void with pints of ice cream and batches of chocolate chip cookies, but that doesn’t seem to be as effective as I would like. It is also hell on your wardrobe, but I digress.
I remember when my husband and I only had our first child. I was quite happy pre-kids to acquiesce to husband’s request that if we had one, we needed to have two. Kind of like getting book ends. There cannot be only one! And looking at that adorable little face in the rare moments he was sleeping, it seemed like a great idea to have two such adorable little faces hanging about the house.
Right about the time I was completely emotionally committed to the idea of being a family of four, he became 2.5 years old. Whew. While those rare nights of getting 6 hours of sleep at a stretch were pretty awesome, his new-found vocabulary was a bit daunting. Forget whining about stretch marks and all the other perks of motherhood. I like to point out just what hearing “No!” over and over can do to a woman’s psyche. It is almost as bad as the incessant comments about your appearance. Especially the appearance of your behind. As in, on the morning of your 38th birthday when caught exiting the shower, “Boy Mom. Your butt sure is big.” One gift-wrapped shredded psyche coming right up!
So we had two kids and I immediately realized that parenting two children was way different than parenting one child. Like I took books to the hospital to read to my hours old first infant. And with the second child, I finally actually read a complete board book to her when she was 13 months old. And she was our easy baby.
Now we have three (okay, “now” is rather relative as he is 2.5 years old) and we have found that three car seats/booster seats equals a new level of chaos and insanity. This kind of crazy is from using zone-defense and pitching out the idea of retirement in lieu of paying for braces and college tuition. However, the real nail on my sanity’s coffin comes from the fact that I have no idea what that little guy is telling me. This is driving me cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs at an amazing rate.
The third kid phenomenon is really quite interesting. If you are a parent like me, you end up having to really lower your standards. I’ve given up coordinated clothing for just clean clothing; and if the argument gets too bad, jammies are just fine attire to run errands in after-all. Balanced meals have become measured by if the plate is balanced on a flat surface versus what is actually being served on the plate. And forget all that reading to your child for 20 minutes a day thing. He’s lucky if I am able to make eye contact with him for 20 minutes in a day. Your first baby, you do everything just the way you should, including worrying about every little thing. Third baby? Eh, not so much. Including the language delay thing. That first kid had better hit every milestone within the acceptable timeframe or moms worry, worry, worry. By the third kid, you’re just happy they are yelling for something. Unless they yell in their own little language. Then moms get cranky.
“I’m sorry. I speak English. And since I don’t have a decoder ring, I have no idea what you are saying.” The poor kid must have spent four months asking for a rohdot. Imagine our disbelief when the volunteer in the church nursery showed us the picture of a robot he had drawn for her. We looked at the random crayon squiggles and said, “Rohdot? You mean he’s been asking for a robot all this time? Who knew?” Apparently a complete stranger.
Talk about a eureka moment. The only trouble is, he keeps adding words to his repertoire. So for every word I manage to decode, he adds a few more.
If we are ever invaded by Martians, I sure hope it isn’t my son who warns me, because I will have no idea what he is telling me. “Roh-dot-oom-ing? What the heck? You want to do some yoga? You would like to go swing?”
“Oh for pete’s sake, here’s a cookie and just be quiet while I polish off the rest of the Ben and Jerry’s.”