“I’ve been thinking about a vasectomy,” my husband announces as our 3-year-old proudly hands him her booger.
I try to disguise the panic in my voice: “Vasectomy?! That’s, like, really final.”
“That’s the point,” he says. “Three kids, we’re done, right?”
He looks at me. I look at him. We both look at our curly-haired booger-gifter.
I’ve always admired the way little kids are able to be simultaneously disgusting yet incredibly endearing. Somehow, even when I’m catching my toddler’s vomit in my hands, her sweet “I sawee I barfed on you, Mummy!” totally makes up for the chunks of banana stuck between my wedding rings.
And here’s something else that’ll have you questioning my sanity: I LOVED being pregnant. My family says I was actually more pleasant when pregnant, and although that’s pretty much a veiled insult, I’ll take it! Bring on the cankles, constipation, contractions—they’re all just one step closer to inhaling that delicious newborn smell. I’m tellin’ you, I love that stuff like Donald Trump loves 2am Tweeting.
My husband keeps reminding me that babies grow up. And—some of you may already know this—the older a kid gets, the more expensive he gets. And the more money we shell out for lessons and teams and STUFF, the less time we actually spend with our kids. It is then that parents are forced to navigate the unfamiliar terrain known as My Kid is Making New Friends…
It’s not that I’m against new friends whose families I’ve thoroughly vetted. New friends are welcome in our home for two hours, one snack tops. It’s just that I much prefer the days when I was my kids’ favorite playmate…
Now I have to speak to my son in Minecraft lingo and do my very best to stay calm when his eyeballs roll to the back of his skull any time I ask him a question. All too soon, we’ll be dealing with Axe Body Spray littering the bathroom counter tops …
Jesus take the wheel! This big kid stuff is hard!
Babies need a blanket and a boob! That’s it!
Toddlers survive on hugs, lollipops, and Band-Aids.
But nothing in that repertoire prepared me for the afternoon my daughter came home from school crying because her “new friend” told her she has a fat face.
I resisted the urge to blanket my child in Peppa Pig Band-Aids and took a deep breath.
“Ok,” I told myself. “You can do this. Just say whatever Mama Berenstain Bear would say.”
I steadied myself. I would say something profound, something my daughter would one day share with her daughter…
To this day, I still can’t pinpoint the exact moment I made that turn into Crazy Town… but in a voice I barely recognized as my own, I heard myself say: “Wellllll your new friend? She sounds like a real asshole!”
Time had me tricked into believing those monotonous baby days would never end, but they did end, and I’d like them back right now please.
And here’s the thing about time: it didn’t warn me it was happening; it just…happened. One day my life was no longer a blurred assembly line of diapering and swaddling. My kids started doing more for themselves, which sounds lovely in theory, but in practice, their minimal independence has given me just enough time to become neurotically introspective.
And let me just say that this level of self-reflection can result in bad decision-making. Like the other day, instead of using my newly available free time to read a book with no pictures in it, I chose instead to sit down at my make-up mirror and flip it to the magnifying side.
Slowly and in great detail, I began deconstructing everything about my life:
I cannot believe I used to perm my bangs.
Is that a hair growing out of my chin?!
OMG are we saving enough for college?
WHY is it so hard to find a pair of jeans since having kids? Can I please get something in between butt crack on display low-riders and “Strangler,” hike’em up to your neck Mom Jeans?!
Should I have a bucket list? ‘Cause I don’t have a bucket list. GREAT. I’m a loser with no goals.
Why do people call when they can just text?
I’m not even tired—this is just how I look now.
I learned something that day: there is no such thing as FREE time; it cost me hundreds of dollars in Oil of Olay creams and, most notably, my ability to be a rational human being.
For years, I was blissfully unaware of this heavy stuff, like decreased elasticity around the eyes and my own mortality. Now I’m left craving something, but what? More babies? My younger self? A force field protecting my kids from “new friends?” I don’t know! All I do know is like that make-up mirror magnified the pores on my nose, closing this chapter of Motherhood only emphasizes these questions, questions I didn’t even know I had until time slapped me in the face with my husband’s scrotum.
So. That vasectomy? Maybe next year.
This is the essay I read at our 2017 Listen To Your Mother Pittsburgh show. The photo of our cast was taken by the talented Ashley Mikula Photography.