Cry before lunch and you’ll laugh before dinner, right? Isn’t that how that saying goes? I don’t know either. All I know is that I was walking across the pool deck at the YMCA to put away my water fitness dumbbells, and the next thing I know I’m spiraling towards concrete with my soggy feet slipping out from under me in separate directions. A 16yr old lifeguard with the Apple icon tattooed on his shoulder hurries over, while all the old biddies from my pool class descend upon me like a herd of grandmas. Each cotton haired classmate more mothering than the last. While my left knee begins to throb and my instructor announced that I definitely scraped up my knee. Awesome. I gather my bells, leave my pride, and limp off to the shower for a good cry.
I follow-up that performance by hobbling out of the YMCA with my 3-year-old Manchild in tow. Manchild had completed his morning ration of socialization and was begging for granola bars. I promise him one to be illegally eaten straight out of the un-paid for box in Aldi’s as hush money, and zoomed about my weekly shopping. Manchild, the strongest, fiercest man-child in all of Maryland, has declared himself to be my own personal shopper, and sauntered off in search of the milk. While contemplating the carbohydrate content of a Greek yogurt, I hear the unmistakable sound of a plastic jug of fluid hitting the tile. “Oh, no”, I think “Please let that be some other person’s kid”. Nope. Sure enough, Manchild stands amid a lake of white, while milk gushes out of a cracked jug on the floor. He looks disappointed, and mildly bashful. I look horrified. Time to go.
Back when I was young and single, I used to think everyone should get married and have kids. Only selfish people find fulfillment in living just for themselves. Unless you are called by God very specifically to a life of singleness and the mission field, surely parenthood is in your best interest. Who wouldn’t want it?
Then I had a kid. No one told me just how much they are selfish, time sucking, demanding creatures. No one told me how they make you and your husband their instant slaves, and wait for the most inopportune moments to embarrass you in new and inappropriate was. I now see why God made them cute. Now I tell people do NOT have a baby unless you simply can not live without one. There’s more truth in that.
But, if you have one then you gotta have two, I assumed. I mean siblings help you learn to share, make family fun and rowdy, and prevent Spoiled Only Children Syndrome. Like peanut butter M&M’s, you can’t have just one. So I had another, by C-section no less. It was like my mind exploded. Your body just goes through this major surgery where they cut you open and drag out another human being, and you’re just supposed to go home and wait on him?! If it were any other surgery there would be a 6 week recovery period where you would lay in bed, binge watch Netflix, and ring a bell for assistance. No one would expect you to accomplish anything, lest you injure yourself. But no, this is parenting. You slap a stretchy belt around that injury soldier, fork your top tender bits over to a waiting piranha to nourish them, and run after the devious 2-year-old that just grabbed the clicker to your car and left the house. Go ahead, try to heal!
I’m standing by my statement that one should not duplicate their spawn unless they simply can not live without a second child. It’s true. Somehow the workload quadruples, yet there are no extra hands on deck for which these new tasks are to be delegated. It’s ridiculous. It’s mind boggling. It’s unfair. But little by little, like dust piling up on your Ikea book shelf, this new normal sinks in. And you slowly forget who you were or what life really looked like from the time you got home from the honeymoon to the time you became a mother. It’s like childless you never existed in your marriage, and you can only remember things like whose turn it is to load the dishwasher, or if your daughter did her homework, and the last time your son pooped. You know, the important stuff.