You Have to Leave Your Sword in the Car….
This past weekend, I paid a much needed and long overdue visit, to my hair stylist who I had not seen in over a year.
After wrestling my hair from the bun it has been thrown into, (while wet), almost daily and discussing the small number of shiny grey strands that have sprouted along my part, we commenced discussing life and why I had waited until I resembled Animal from the Muppets before dragging myself in.
As I looked at my frazzled, frayed, split-ended, unintentional ombre’d, baggy-eyed reflection, (that always looks ten-times worse in a salon mirror), I confessed that since I’ve logged a few years as a parent, I’ve come to the realization that my preliminary expectations regarding the whole she-bang….were wildly unrealistic.
There were so many things I was not expecting when I was expecting….and beyond….
1. I Ordered the Rachel Green
I felt my first maternal stirrings while watching Rachel Green progress through her pregnancy on Friends. Granted, it wasn’t entirely for the right reasons that my ovaries did flip-flops.
At the time, my interest in pregnancy really only extended to what I perceived to be it’s cosmetic benefits and no one did pregnancy more adorably or with more style than Rachel Green.
Visions of a well dressed baby bump, shiny hair, well manicured nails and an etherial glow planted themselves in my subconscious and became part of my grand pregnancy plan.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Instead of all of the above, I got the chemo glow, which is less glow-like and more dull sheen-like….and all my hair fell out and I took on an uncanny resemblance to Mr. Clean. No amount of chic maternity clothing could help me.
On a positive note….beyond, you know, survival….I did not have to shave the entire time I was pregnant.
2. Judge Lest Ye Have to Deliver Au Naturel
I was never the type of woman who had any interest in attempting natural childbirth. Given the availability of modern medicine, I could see no value in what I considered the equivalent of biting down on a stick in a hut somewhere. I intended to be Zen like….sufficiently medicated and cruising through the birthing process….sans screaming bloody murder.
Yet another thing that wasn’t meant to be….in a cruel twist of fate, I wasn’t medically able to have an epidural before the time came to push.
Up until the point I was actually giving birth, I was full of all kinds of opinions regarding the women writhing and carrying on as if possessed in various episodes I saw of A Baby Story.
“Why don’t these women just suck it up, dig deep and get it done?”
“When told not to push, why don’t they just listen?”
Oh….Oh, Oh, Oh….I am an asshole.
Why don’t they listen when told not to push?….Because it’s not really a choice.
At some point during my own labor, I told my husband I needed to go to the bathroom….IMMEDIATELY. When the nurse offered to fetch me a bedpan and I said, “What I need to do isn’t bedpan appropriate,” she fetched a doctor who concluded I should prepare to push.
“Prepare to push? Um….how about I’m going to push right this very second….ready or not.”
Despite their constant coaching to push only when instructed, I pushed when I damn well felt like it….mostly, because I couldn’t help it.
And, did I really say, once upon a time….“Why don’t they just suck it up and get it done?” Yeah, I did.
Bold….considering my son weighed in at just over four pounds and based on my behavior, you would have thought I was birthing a mac truck.
In the aftermath, I had to come to terms with the fact that I was not only a jerk….but also a wimp.
3. I Catch What I Eat
Before I had a child and a work/life balancing act, I visualized homemade, healthy meals three times a day….lovingly made from scratch by my own two hands.
Perhaps I would have my own small backyard garden where I would grow fresh vegetables and a window sill herb garden from which I could pluck sprigs of basil and thyme as I flitted about my kitchen.
I imagined myself happily humming, while rainbows and cute, cartoon woodland creatures practically shot of my ass as I reveled in the sheer Hallmark Channel of it all.
Fast forward to reality and the only thing likely to come shooting out of my ass, is the morsel of random food I picked off my son’s booster seat and ate without a second thought.
While I like to believe I’ve come close to what I envisioned, most nights we do sit together as a family over a homemade meal that has been simmering in a crockpot all day, or discovered in a 20 Minute or Less cookbook, I have to admit that there are also many mornings when I readily cave to my son’s request for a chocolate chip muffin from our local D&D and when PB&J and a bag of Pirate’s Booty for lunch for the fifth straight day in a row doesn’t seem so bad.
At least he’s eating….most days the only thing I eat until dinner is whatever I’ve caught falling from his mouth, or whatever he leaves behind on his plate….crusts from his sandwiches, a brown piece of apple, half of a chip.
It’s not that I can’t eat….it’s just that are approximately 427 other things I need to accomplish. While my son eats and we chat, I can fold a load of laundry, clean up the kitchen, check work voicemails and emails and/or prep dinner among many other things. The “You can have it all!” fairytale I was sold on, failed to explain that I could have it all as long as I was capable of functioning on coffee and one square meal a day….unless, of course, I could hire a full time staff to do all those other things for me.
4. I Have Two Butt’s
It used to be, that when I used the restroom, whatever went on in there was between me and the porcelain God. These days, I almost always have an audience.
When my son was an infant and we were home alone, I had to prop him in his bouncy seat just outside the door where I could still see him. Once he became mobile, I had to either trap him in the bathroom with me, or leave the door open and attempt to keep him entertained so he would remain within eye site.
Now that he’s a little older and more capable of following instructions, I feel better about closing the door, but it doesn’t really matter, because he can open it….typically barging in to ask if I’m pooping….normally, the dog is also in tow and he likes to use the opportunity to jump up and lick the sides of my legs.
When my son began potty training, it didn’t take him long to pick up on the differences in style between boys and girls. One day, he walked in and said to me, “I stand when I go pee-pee in-cause I a boy. You sit, in-cause you have two butts.”
5. Has Anyone Seen My Shit? I Seem to Have Lost it
I expected the plate spinning act that is parenting and….living….to be a lot easier than it actually is. I think I do a good job. Most days, I look at my family and feel a huge sense of pride, accomplishment and overwhelming love that makes me feel full to bursting.
But every now and then, when one of the tenously balanced plates I’ve been spinning, begins to wobble and then crashes…. shattering into a million messy pieces that must be picked up….all while continuing to dash about, keeping the other plates in motion….I sometimes fantasize about a life without the trappings of marriage and family.
The feeling doesn’t last long and is often, almost immediately, replaced by a pang of fear and hurt at the prospect of not having them in my life. But, I’ve also come to recognize it means I need a break and some time alone to be something other than a wife, a mom, a step-mom and an employee….preferably, before I lose my fu*%ing mind.
Case in point, a few weeks back, I was so exhausted by work related stresses I was trying to manage without taking away any time from my family, that after the 100th request by my son to “please get up and play basketball with me” I completely broke down and cried….hard, sobbing, exhausted tears, why I wailed, “Please buddy, I just need to sit for awhile. Please, stop!”
My son, having never seen me break down in that way, also started crying and saying, “Mommy, don’t be mad! You post to be happy!”
It was heart-breaking and made me feel like the worst mother in the world. It also made me realize I was pushing too hard and I needed to do a better job recognizing my limits and asking for help when I’ve taken on much more than is necessary or even expected of me.
6. Argh….Please Don’t Lick That!
The following is a short list of things I never thought I would say:
1. Please don’t touch that….it’s poop.
2. Honey, public bathroom floors are really dirty….anything you drop on them, can’t be eaten.
3. That’s not a hat….(my bra).
4. No, no, no!! That’s dog food….please spit it out!
5. No, you can’t pull on that string….now please go play and let me have some privacy.
7. I Guess My Shirt Sleeve Will Do
The following is a short list of things I never thought I would do:
1. Lick my finger and use it to wipe something off my son’s face.
2. Make a coffee run in my PJ’s….at noon.
3. Pick something crusty from someone else’s orifice.
4. When lacking other options….wipe said something on my pant leg.
5. Leave my house for work wearing two entirely different shoes….”Mommy Brain” is a real thing.
Despite it all….I can’t wait for whatever comes next!